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Core components of social-emotional Learning though Play in middle childhood

In this video, we’ll see two examples of learning through play activities for middle childhood.
Welcome back, can you guess what we’re going to talk about in this step? Did you say snacks? No, but close. We’re going to talk about play. How does learning through play fit into this age group? And actually, I’m particularly interested about how we can identify the characteristics of play while it’s happening. Usually play is dynamic and fast paced, so it can be hard to spot the characteristics of learning through play unless you really know what to look for. So to help provide some insight, we’d like to welcome back Stephanie and Rebecca. Hi Carly. So right now we’re going to watch a couple of videos. And we’re going to talk about the examples of learning through play that we see.
OK, so to get started we’re going to start with the Tricky Tower.
Tricky Tower is a fun activity that allows you to develop fine motor skills and persist in the face of difficulty. All you need to do this activity are 6 bricks per participant, but remember to have some extra bricks available and two people. We are using the bigger bricks here, but you could try it with smaller bricks if you prefer. Are you ready? Let’s go. To start this activity. Spread out your bricks on a table or maybe the floor. As long as it’s a solid surface. Now you need to stack the bricks vertically short end to short end. Using one hand. Try to make the tower as high as possible.
If you can do higher than six, then give it a go and maybe even turn it into a competition of who can do the highest tower. When the tower falls, simply try again. The current record is 38 bricks and do let us know if you manage to beat that. This can easily be turned into a team activity. Work as a group and take turns placing the bricks. If you want to make it more difficult, you can build with your non-dominant hand or build with your eyes closed. But I need to warn you that this can be very challenging.
If you want to make it a bit easier, on the other hand, use both hands or allow everyone to build the tower with the bricks stacked horizontally. Now it’s your turn. Have fun with Tricky Tower.
OK, so what came through immediately for me in that video that was so compelling was all the social interaction. So they were doing the Tricky Tower together. They were doing it separately and then they were collaborating. So when it got a little bit harder, one of them had to guide the others hand to do the task. Yeah, I love that part when they decide to do it in a new way.
In a different way by closing their eyes and then the child really does have to guide the adult to figure out where to place the brick, and I think it’s a really nice example of the iterative nature of this activity, where you can do it again and again and again many different ways, and in that way there really is more social engagement going on because they’re really having to work together. Right, and it changes the task so it becomes actively engaging. It changes each time and they’re really involved and excited about doing it.
Yeah, they really have to focus, they really have to pay close attention and really use all of their attention in order to do it because it’s challenging, but they’re also engaged with it, right, which makes it fun. They look like they’re having a lot of fun. They’re joyful. Yeah, they do look like they’re having fun. I think it’s a meaningful task because building is something that kids love to do and often do in a lot of their time. So here they’re doing a building activity and they’re doing it together and they’re doing it in this focused way. And there’s also that counting, which links to activities that might happen in school. So should we watch the next one?
OK, so the next one is Marbles On The Run.
Marbles On The Run is a fun activity that lets you practice your creativity and problem solving skills as well as working together as a team. For this activity, you need some cardboard, a pair of scissors and tape. Oh, and something that rolls like a marble. Super ball or even a small piece of paper rolled into a ball. Are you ready? Let’s go. The purpose of this activity is to build some awesome marble tracks. To get started, cut the cardboard rolls in half so that they look a bit like a drainpipe. These are your tracks. Next, you stick the first one to a wall, door or window.
Then stick the next track below the first in order for the marble to roll down and land in the next track lower down. Continue adding tracks for as long as you like and for as long as you would like the marble track to be. You can use whatever you have around to help support the track. We use tables and chairs. Or use other materials for making tracks like a guitar. Now it’s time to test the marble track. Ouch. These marbles are very lively, but simply pick it up and try again. Maybe you want to slightly adjust the curves of your track to make sure it can travel all the way.
If you don’t have much space, just take some toilet paper rolls, cut them in half and put them on the wall with some masking tape and there you go with your small on the wall marble track. If you’d like the activity to be more challenging, you can make a marble track that runs around the corner or design the tracks so it takes maybe 30 seconds for the marble to travel from start to finish. You can also build your marble track to make the first marble activate a second marble. Be warned, it’s super tricky, but give it a go.
If you’d like to make the activity a little bit easier, on the other hand, you can make the cardboard rolls in advance to help the children get started. Now it’s your turn. Have fun with Marbles On The Run. OK, so with this one, what I really noticed first was how meaningful it was. So it really touched on those kids lives. They brought their own materials in. They built it around their house. It was really tighted to their own life which gets them involved. Yeah, you could tell they are really focused on making it work, so building something that really held together, and that could really move the marble around.
And so that kind of the goal of really building it together makes it engaging for them. They’re really focused on it. They really want to succeed, and I also notice that they really had to work together to do it. So it’s a large structure that they’re building and it’s taking up a lot of space, and they had different kids in different places and they had to kind of coordinate in order to make it work. Right, and in doing that they built multiple parts so they did it over and over again in all these different ways, which is iterative. Yeah, I notice that too.
So many of the little connections are similar, so they’re having lots of opportunities to try to build the same type of thing, like a place where to card pieces of cardboard connect, but they do it a little differently each time, so they get lots of opportunities to practice and try out how to do it. Right, and I guess the final thing I would say is that it was joyful. They were climbing on the furniture, they were having so much fun when they were doing, and they were deeply engaged in the activity. Yeah, you can tell they’re really enjoying themselves. I think you covered all the characteristics of learning through play. You got iterative, meaningful, joyful, engaging, and social.
Thank you for the commentary and we will see you later in this unit. Thank you. This was so fun. Thank you, Carly. Thank you everyone. It’s nice to see you.

In this step, we’ll see two examples of learning through play activities for middle childhood with Dr. Stephanie Jones and Rebecca Bailey from the Harvard EASEL Lab. They will explore how these activities can target learning through play and social and emotional development.

Tricky Tower – LEGO Foundation Playlist

Marbles on the Run – LEGO Foundation Playlist

Explore other Learning through Play activities at the LEGO Foundation Playlist

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Coping with Changes: Social-Emotional Learning Through Play

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