Literacy Lenses

Focusing on The Literacy Work that Matters

Igniting Deep & Joyful Learning through Purposeful Play

by Mary HowardAd

On April 14, 2016 #G2Great welcomed guest hosts Kristi Mraz, Alison Porcelli and Cheryl Tyler, authors of an amazing new book, Purposeful Play: A Teacher’s Guide to Igniting Deep & Joyful Learning Across the Day. Their personal commitment to the topic is evident from the first page with the words that implore us to take action: ”Play isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity.” This message quickly reverberated across Twitter in a celebratory ripple effect of newfound appreciation for purposeful play as #G2Great moved into trending overdrive.

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As it turns out, research supports our collective enthusiasm. Dr. Stuart Brown, the world’s leading researcher in the science of play, states that “what play does better than anything else is unite what is in your head and your heart.” Celebrating play as one of the best exercises for the brain, he lists an impressive array of by-products including lightheartedness, empathy, hope for the future, optimism, flexibility, and adaptability, making a strong case for purposeful play in our classrooms.

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In a nod of enthusiastic support, our #G2Great chatters added a myriad of benefits including opportunities to discover, explore, negotiate, imagine, create, rehearse, problem-solve, revise, collaborate, engage, innovate, elaborate, persevere, cooperate, compromise and plan. Add social and emotional intelligence, growth mindset, motivation, choice, curiosity and flexibility to that lofty collection and the ‘necessity’ in purposeful play is elevated to a new sense of urgency.

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What makes Purposeful Play such a powerful book is that it is brimming with research support that inspires us to embrace purposeful play and affords ample evidence to convince naysayers while their treasure chest of tips and suggestions in a step-by-step illustrated guide transports us to a visual playground of pure joy. They don’t just tell us how to make purposeful play a reality – they show us. Purposeful Play is a magical mix of compelling research evidence and practical application that is sure to bring the play movement back into glorious view.

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This message comes at a time when far too many schools view recess and other forms of play as expendable in favor of an ever-increasing emphasis on academic rigor. In response, Kristi, Allison and Cheryl highlight the rigorous nature of play as ‘play in work and work in play.’ In or out of our classrooms, purposeful play engages children in enthusiastic ‘rigorous’ learning that can fuel our instruction to a new level. Our favorite new play friends remind us that although we may not have a choice in what we teach, how we teach is always in our hands. In others words, purposeful play as a personal and professional priority is a choice.

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This week on #G2Great, with the gracious support of Kristi, Alison and Cheryl, our chatters made a conscious choice to make purposeful play a personal and professional priority and their excitement was palpable. Teachers left with a new resolve to embed purposeful play into every learning day. Best of all, our #G2Great Twitter playdate will impact our students and make them the lucky benefactors of their enthusiastic determination.

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Kristi, Alison and Cheryl keep the promise emblazoned on the front cover of their book. Through research support and words of encouragement and guidance, they take us along on a purposeful play “joy” ride toward igniting deep and joyful learning across the day. In their words, “Play connects us to the world and to each other and offers unlimited possibilities. So come. Let’s play!”

Oh yes indeed girls. Let’s play!

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Follow Kristi at Kinderconfidential & Chart Chums with Marjorie Martinelli and Heinemann

Revisit a few of our #G2Great Purposeful Play tweets below