My enquiring question –
In what way does the format of ‘loose parts play’ need to change to provide progression of creativity and problem solving skills at P1, P4, P7?
My learning –
The whole process has been a great learning experience and has developed my understanding of Learning for Sustainability as a whole, as well as my interest into how we develop and assess skills in schools. Specific learning related to my enquiry question has been that there is not one way of ‘playing’ for different stages at primary school. Pupils enjoyed a range of play experiences and each had their own benefits as well as joint benefits. I realised that I did not need to change the play dependent on the child but in fact, the child would access the play at the level appropriate to them. Taking this ownership away from the child creates a different activity. Set tasks and differentiated activities have their place in school, but by doing this to play experiences removes the benefits that ‘loose parts play’ has.
Pupil learning –
The pupils found that without realising, they were using broad learning vocabulary during their play e.g. ‘this is really heavy’, ‘if we push this harder, there will be more force behind it’, ‘let’s make this stronger by creating a bigger base’. They were also able to highlight more skills being used than I was able to spot when observing them. I believe that by making skills more visible to pupils, means that they will be more able to apply and use these skills in a range of contexts.
Colleague learning –
The staff who have been involved in my enquiry have been interested to see how it was managed. Staff agreed that this type of play has great benefits but were sceptical that it might become an add-on or a trend that quickly gets forgotten about. My challenge to staff has been to start using these materials as part of lessons when links can be made as well as giving their pupils the play experiences to become more confident and more familiar with the materials but not to use it as an additional lesson. These members of staff are beginning to collect more materials to add to our ‘loose parts’ as they notice links to learning that can be made. I acknowledge that we are at the start of a journey but hope the interest continues to increase and the scepticism decreases as time goes on.