This week, I asked one of our teacher aides to pop in one morning to lead the PBL session. She is experienced with the early years, and I wanted some support in how to facilitate and direct the play sessions for the students to gain the most out of it. I observed her interacting with one group of students. They sat on the floor together and played with a cardboard box. It quickly became a house, then a shop and they spent the next 45 minutes or so making things out of paper, card and tape for it. The main things I got from this observation were:

  • Actually play with them – don’t just observe and ask questions, actually get onto their level on the floor and play with them.
  • Ask open ended questions, e.g. ‘what do you see in a shop?’, ‘what do you do in a shop?’, ‘what can you buy in a shop?’
  • Create things with them – they will copy an modify what you are doing.

I had a go at this during the rest of the week (construction theme), and we made a shoe rack for the classroom. I took the lead in making it, but following its construction, the students started making their own things, by copying what I’d been doing – measuring, marking, cutting, helping each other hold things, etc.

What next?

I want to explore providing thoughtful provocations for play. This has happened haphazardly these last few weeks with themed tables – slime table, craft table, science table and this last week being construction week.

I am also visiting a local Kindergarten to spend the morning observing the teachers supporting the play based learning.