Role of the Teacher During Play

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Types of play in early childhood



Roles of the Teacher during Play


The artist apprentice--while a child or children are creating an "art object," you
listen for and meet their requests for materials or assistance.


The peacemaker--if children get into conflict about materials for any other
reason, you mediate the conflict.


Guardian of the gate--if there is limited space to participate (e.g. only so many
easels in a room), you make sure the space does not get to crowded, and monitor turns
if needed.


Parallel player--do whatever the activity is that the children are doing, without
intervening in their interactions (e.g. play in the sandbox near them, but not directly


Spectator--watch closely what the children are doing, without interacting directly,
to learn more about the interests and skills of each child.


Participant--be part of a play activity (e.g. you can be a grandparent in a makebelieve housekeeping incident).


Matchmaker--suggest that certain children try out an activity together, basing
your suggestion on your knowledge of the children and of the activity.

Play Materials for Children

Parents, teachers, and caregivers can also consider play in developmental domains in
their choices of toys and materials for children. They will want to include a balance of
toys for different types of play, as suggested in the following list:
Gross-Motor Play
Large blocks
Transportation toys
Climbing equipment

Tricycles, wagons, Big Wheels, and so forth
Woodworking equipment and materials (child-size hammers, workbench, vise,
screwdrivers, scrap lumber, etc.)
Fine-Motor Play
Art supplies (finger and water paints, brushes, markers, crayons, scissors, etc.)
Beads for stringing
Construction materials (small blocks, Legos, Lincoln Logs, etc.)
Language and Literacy
Writing materials (notepads, individual chalkboard, pens, pencils, old typewriters, sand
trays, etc.)
Thematic props (teddy bears for “Goldilocks,” puppets, etc.)
Cognitive Play
Materials for water play (buckets, squirt guns, sieves, etc.)
Simple board games
Simple card games
Materials for science experiments (balance scales, eye droppers, animal cages,
aquariums, terrariums, etc.)
Objects from nature (leaves, bird’s nest, feathers, etc.)
Sociodramatic Play
Dolls and stuffed animals
Props for dramatic play (hats, neckties, child stethoscope, eyeglasses with lenses, etc.)
Miniature life figures

Housekeeping equipment and props (child-size broom, dishware, table and chairs, etc.)
Types of Playground
Traditional Playground

First appeared in the United States in the 1920s
G. Stanley Hall (1844-1924)
o Considered as the founder of the American playground movement.

Types of Playground Equipment
Monkey Bars

Monkey bars can still be found in local parks, but newer versions of hanging
equipment are taking over the playground. Swinging bars instead of the fixed-in-place
styles are gaining popularity. The movement of the bar offers a challenge as the child
plans how to swing from one bar to the next. Other popular hanging bars or rings are
formed in various shapes and styles, offering complexity and skill-building potential for
all ages and ability levels.

The sandbox offers a child an opportunity to dig, design and build. Small,
portable, raised plastic sandboxes can be placed on porches and patios. Wooden
sandboxes can be built in the standard square or rectangular shapes, but they can also
be built in the shape of a pirate ship or car. Store-bought sandboxes are often made of
plastic, and can be shaped like turtles or dolphins. Trucks, cars, shovels, pails and
sifters offer plenty of sand play adventures.
Climbing Equipment

Climbing structures have evolved over the years from basic domes to structures
shaped like caterpillars, dinosaurs or geometric configurations. Climbing nets allow the
imagination to run wild when children pretend to be pirates or spies. Plastic rock walls
and ledges build strength and skills in analytical reasoning. These structures will
encourage children to have adventures while climbing in a safe environment.
Swings and Slides

Swings and slides are traditional staples of the playground. Safety swings allow
younger children to be fastened or lifted into place. Rope and tire swings are

increasingly popular and can attach to play structures or can hang freely from a tree.
Plastic slides don't hold heat like steel slides, and are available as add-ons to home
playground equipment or commercial equipment. Curved slides that twist and are
topped by tunnels are also popular.
Balance Equipment

Equipment that promotes balance will help a child improve his physical dexterity.
Stepping stones that increase and decrease in height will challenge a child's balance
and spatial awareness. Balance beams in various heights are another way for the child
to learn these skills. Dual ropes connected to two poles, one rope just off the ground
and the other rope strung about three feet higher, will allow the child to balance on the
lower rope, while holding the upper rope.
Adventure Playgrounds
Adventure Playgrounds is an outdoor area that has fixed and movable structures
(such as slides and rope ladders) on which children can climb and play and that often
also has equipment and loose materials for building projects and modifying preexisting
structures <In an , children are given hammers, nails and boards and under adult
supervision can construct anything they want.
The first planned adventure playground was erected at Emdrup near
Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1943. C. Th. Sorensen, an architect who had designed many
playgrounds, noticed that children enjoyed playing with scrap materials left on
construction sites rather than on established playgrounds (Frost & Klein, 1979). This
observation led to the creation of the first adventure playgrounds, sometimes called a
junk playground.
The Adventure Playground has three overlapping concepts:
Adventure Play - a mode of activity.
Adventure Environment - a type of physical setting.
Play Leadership - a form of relationship and an organizational role.

Essence of adventure play:

Learning & the Development of Social Relationships:
Children learn through contact--direct contact with different environments,
materials and people.
Childrenʼs ideas inspire the creation of their own activities, structures and games.

Community is important for children and for adults. Adventure playgrounds
provide an opportunity for children to meet one another and make their own
community through games, activities, and the development of friendships.

Children in the City:
All children need a space that they can call their own, a place where they can be
loud, dirty, silly, spontaneous and anything else they feel like.

Safety Guidelines
Teaching Kids About Playground Safety
Safe playground equipment and adult supervision are extremely important, but it's only
half of the equation: Kids must know how to be safe and act responsibly at the
Teach your kids to:

Never push or roughhouse while on jungle gyms, slides, seesaws, swings, and
other equipment.

Use equipment properly — slide feet first, don't climb outside guardrails, no
standing on swings, etc.

Always check to make sure no other kids are in the way if they're going to jump
off equipment, and land on both feet with their knees slightly bent.

Leave bikes, backpacks, and bags away from the equipment and the play area
so that no one trips over them.

Always wear a helmet while bike riding, but take it off while on playground

Never use playground equipment that's wet because moisture makes the
surfaces slippery.

Check playground equipment in the summertime. It can become uncomfortably
or even dangerously hot, especially metal slides, handrails, and steps. So use good
judgment — if the equipment feels hot to the touch, it's probably not safe or fun to
play on. Contact burns can occur within seconds.

Wear clothes that do not have drawstrings or cords. Drawstrings, purses, and
necklaces could get caught on equipment and accidentally strangle a child.

Wear sunscreen when playing outside even on cloudy days to protect against

Cognitive Stages of Play.

The way children play also reflects their cognitive or intellectual development.
There are 2 theorists that we rely on when talking about Cognitive stages of play,
Jean Piaget and the more contemporary Sara Smilansky.

Child’s age
0-2 years



Piaget’s Description
The child uses their
motor skills to explore
objects in the
environment. Children
gain pleasure from
repetitive use of their
physical and sensory
Symbolic Play
The child uses one
object to represent
another. This means a
significant change in
thinking as children are
using an internal
representation or idea.
Games with rules.
Children are involved
in complex and
structured rule
governed games.

Social Levels of Play
Parten’s Stages of Play
Unoccupied Play. The child is not actually “playing” but watches anything that happens
to catch his interest. He may play with his own body, move around, remain in one
location, or follow a teacher.
Onlooker Behavior. This stage is termed “behavior” instead of play because this child
is content in watching other children.
Solitary Independent Play. Children prefer to play by themselves and are not
comfortable interacting with other children. They may play apart with chosen toys, yet
within speaking distance, and demonstrate little interest in making contact. Contact may
consist of grabbing other children’s toys when the opportunity exists.
Parallel Play. This stage is also known as adjacent play or social coaction. Children
occupy space near others, but seldom share toys or materials. They may talk, but each
has their own conversation and there is no attempt to communicate with each other. As
an example, one child may talk about going to the circus while another interrupts about
going to a fast food restaurant.
Associate Play. Children lend, borrow, and take toys from others. However, it’s still
“every child for himself.” At this stage, the children are beginning to engage in close
personal contact, however, they still consider their own viewpoint as most important.
Children are not yet ready to participate in teams or group work, but there should be
opportunities for group work so they can gradually learn how to communicate their
Cooperative Play. This stage is the highest form of children working and playing
together. They share, take turns, and allow some children to serve as leaders for the
group. For example, one child may be the policeman, another a nurse, while another is
the mother. In cooperative play, three-year-olds play best with approximately three other
children; five-year-olds can play successfully with approximately five children.
Young children, who learn to share, take turns, work and play with others show a higher
degree of success later in life. Parten found that as children became older and with
more opportunities for peer interaction, the nonsocial types (solitary and parallel)
declined in favor of the social types (associative and cooperative) (Lorton & Walley,
Other Influences of Play
Herbert Spencer, psychologist and philosopher, born in 1820. He stated that humans
have a constant amount of energy that must be expended. Early in our existence, most,
if not all, of that energy was used just meeting basic needs. As our civilization

advanced, and less energy was used meeting these needs, we have had to
compensate by expending our excess energy in some other manner, namely, play.
Sigmund Freud, psychoanalyst, born in 1856. He suggested that play was a way of
expressing socially unacceptable behaviors. Play was therapeutic, allowing one to vent
undesirable feelings and actions in a more acceptable manner.
Maria Montessori, born in 1870, elaborated on this theory. She proposed that children
would be better off if they spent their play learning, or imagining, useful things. These
two theorists feel that "play is the child's work."
Lev Vygotsky, psychologist, also born in 1896. His play theory emphasizes social
development. He suggests that there is an ability level that children can reach but not
without help from adults, which he refers to as a zone of proximal development, or ZPD.
When children play, they give cues to adults about their readiness to learn new skills
with assistance.
Karl Groos, zoologist, born in 1861. He studied play first in animals, then in humans.
He explained that play was a way of preparing for survival in the adult world.


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