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  • Seem like opposites -- and oxymoron…
  • Can they plan for play? Yes…plenty of evidence that children are capable of planning what they will do…Brown and DeLoache… Should they plan for their play in preschool? Well - maybe they should….and that’s the focus of the session. Tries to make the case that maybe children should be planning ttheir indoor play at school at least some of the time.
  • One reason is that planning ahead for play facilitates the development of mature play behaviors. When these behaviors are present then play is what Vygotsky referred to as a leading activity in early childhood -- in other words, it is activity that pulls development forward. The defining elements of play as a leading activity are listed here:
  • Here’s another reason. Mature play develops self regulation also referred to as executive functions. Core EFs are: inhibitory control [resisting habits, temptations or distractions]; working memory [mentally holding and using information - the learning sketchpad] and cognitive flexibility [adjusting to change]. Implemented EF training: self-regulatory private speech; dramatic play and mediators to aid memory compared to a balanced literacy program. Children in EF training (Tools of Mind program) outperformed those in balanced literacy on inhibitory control tasks. These tasks are strongly correlated with standardized academic measures of literacy -- for example Get Ready to Read. Study concluded that more demanding EF tasks, such as play planning support higher academic performance -- and moves poor EF children to a more optimal state.
  • And a third reason is that play planning as designed affords lots of meaningful practice with emergent literacy skills, such as name-writing, print awareness, concept of word, sound-symbol matching and print functions as an aid to thinking and memory.
  • So…play planning has possibilities -- that it may be useful and appropriate is a definite MAYBE. How does it work? Establish 5 primary play areas & color code them both in terms of signage and management for play activity.
  • Getting started…
  • Build up to more cognitively demanding tasks that exercise EFs.
  • Early stage -- word segmentation. Help children segment the speech stream into word units.
  • Next stage: help children use letters and connect to sounds - beginning phoneme awareness. Most salient letter-sound matches.
  • Focus on initial sound-letter matches as introduction to onset-rime and phoneme segmentation - the gateway to decoding.
  • Keep modeling and scaffolding to include more and more children.
  • The combination of play and literacy behaviors should not be underestimated. When children can read and write for real purposes - meaningful to them they indeed can behave ‘a head above’ -- not only in the moment but also into the future.


  • 1. Play ~ Planning Kathleen Roskos ICCP June 17-19, 2010 [email_address]
  • 2. play planning
  • 3. Can children plan for play? Yes Should children plan for play? Maybe
  • 4. Facilitates Mature Play
    • creating imaginary situations
    • using objects in a symbolic way
    • using language to enact play
    • taking on explicit roles
    • following implicit rules
    • persisting at play
  • 5. Develops Self-Regulation
    • Inhibitory control
    • Working memory
    • Cognitive flexibility
    “ Although play is often thought frivolous, it may be essential…mature, dramatic play helps improve EF [executive function]. Daily EF “exercise” appears to enhance EF development much as physical exercise helps bodies.” Diamond, Barnett, Thomas & Munro (2007). Preschool program improves cognitive control. Science, V 317
  • 6. Affords Meaningful Literacy Practice
  • 7. Getting Started Reading/Writing Discovery Blocks Art Dramatic Play
    • Play Board
    • Colored Clips
  • 8. Weeks 1-2 Choose-Say-Go
    • Step 1: Describe the 5 play areas + colors
    • Step 2: Use choose-say-go procedure
    • Step 3: Each child chooses play area if clips are gone, then must choose another area
    • Step 4: Each child says name of area and what will do there
    • Step 5: Goes to play area with
    • clip
  • 9. Weeks 3-4 or longer Choose-Say-Draw-Go
    • Step 1: Introduce play plan form
    • Step 2: Choose-Say-Draw
    • Step 3: Go
    name drawing word
  • 10. Weeks 5-6 or longer Choose-Say-Draw-Write-Go
    • Step 1: Scaffold writing
    • Say : I am going to make a castle.
    • Draw lines:
    • ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____ ____
    • (I) (am) (going) (to) (make) (a) (castle)
    • Write words :
    • I am going to make a castle .
    • Reread and point each word.
  • 11. Word segmentation
  • 12. Letter awareness
  • 13. Letter-sound awareness
  • 14. Weeks 6 and beyond
    • Step 1: Choose
    • Step 2: Say
    • Step 3: Draw
    • Step 4: Write
    • Step 5: Go
  • 15. For example…
  • 16.  
  • 17.  
  • 18. Benefits
    • Children identify a pretend scenario and role before playing
    • They represent the plan in a symbolic way
    • They practice self-regulation
    • They use language to negotiate play
    Play Power
  • 19. + forge play~literacy links
      • Language
      • Imagination
      • Storytelling
      • Capability
      • Enjoyment
    In play the child is always behaving beyond his age, above his usual everyday behavior; in play he is, as it were, a head above himself. - Lev Vygotsky (1978, p.74) F Y I F Y I
  • 20. Learn more about play planning…
    • Bedrova, E & Leong, D (2007). Tools of the mind. 2nd Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
    • Diamond, A., Barnett, S., Thomas, J & Munro, S. (2007). Preschool program improves cognitive control .
    • Neuman, S & Roskos, K (2007). Nurturing knowledge (chapter 5). New York: Scholastic.