The game is an educational tool in its own right. It is essential in kindergarten education for children’s learning and development at all levels: physical, motor, sensory, and social. To facilitate the integration of play into the various activities. The layout of the classroom also has its role to play. Space should consider the most strenuous activity for children, Montaigne said in the 16th century. The writer-philosopher was decidedly a pioneer. Because not so long ago, gambling was still considered a frivolous and occupational activity, even for the youngest. You can also teach your kids about vocabulary words that start with d.
The richness of children’s experiences
Fortunately, this belief is no longer valid today, and learning through play in kindergarten education is generally adopted in all preschool classes. The program of the Ministry of Education itself states that “play promotes the richness of children’s experiences in all kindergarten education classes and serves all sectors of knowledge. It enables kids to exercise their freedom, act on truth, build fiction, develop their imaginations, exercise motor behavior, and experiment with various rules and social functions. It improves interaction with others and the construction of strong bonds of friendship. The teacher gives all the children sufficient time to develop their play activities. Activities them in their free play to them better. It also offers structured games explicitly aimed at specific learning.
In 2015, the Ministry of Education also published a very comprehensive report on these various points. Entitled Play and Learn, Kindergarten Resource, this document also offers ideas for integrating play into the school career in Small, Middle, and Large sections, not only in terms of pedagogy but also of space planning.
The game as a learning tool: different categories
“Play is not chaos, as a playful reminder of this video from the Ontario Science Center in Canada dedicated to the role of play in developing a scientific mind in children. Even free, the game needs a framework expressed through the pre-established rules and explained by the teacher (who also gives the start and the end of the game period) and an environment and a piece of well-thought-out equipment. Whether it is free to play (where the child builds his course within a framework and according to rules of use and behavior explained by the adult) or structured play (without or with a learning objective explicit), we can distinguish four-game categories:
Education game categories
Exploration games: sensorimotor, manipulations, experiments, discoveries. The child interacts with his material, and the social environment discovers his power to act on things.
Symbolic games: immediate imitation, “pretending” (delayed replication), role-playing, staging. The child reinterprets the reality of his experience then invents his scenarios. He is built as an autonomous individual but can play his social role within a group.
Construction games: assemblies, manufacturing. The child uses materials to build or create objects – plasticine, bricks, boards, blocks to be assembled without or with the interlocking or connecting device, puzzles, drawings, productions. He realizes according to his own choices or according to directives. He confronts the physical world and the laws that govern it.
Rules games: individual or group games, board games. He adapts his social behavior and implements strategies in the service of projects or objectives.
Play to learn in a classroom set up in micro-activity zones
Play with dolls in pairs for the little ones (social behavior), sort shapes (geometry), count objects (mathematics), differentiate and recognize letters (before learning to read): the game can use for different learning. It is transversal. Rather than a “space reserved for the game,” it is better to organize the class in several micro-zones, each of them accommodating different types of games. Cinblog
The equipment and furniture
For these arrangements, a few simple general principles may prevail: These areas must be well defined: use colors and different types of furniture, for example. That provides clear reference points for the child and helps him structure himself in his activity, especially for free play in class. The equipment and furniture must be easy to clean: the game, especially the sensory exploration game, which uses materials such as sand, for example, is often messy.
Arrange a central space
Delimit and arrange a central space in the classroom, also well equipped (poufs, stools): it allows, on the one hand, to bring the children together for a group game or the explanation of rules, but also to teach them to have an overview of the other business areas. The equipment must be easy to access: storage at children’s height in cabinets or shelves at children’s size, and without stacking complicated to mobilize. The games must be visible, in transparent boxes, or identified by labels.
A toy library
We can also set up a toy library within the classroom if space permits, or common to several classes, as the report from the Ministry of Education suggests. We will explain the precise rules of its use (and its organization) to the children. It is not necessarily necessary to devote an entire room to this game library. A typical piece of furniture may suffice, even in an informal place (in a sufficiently wide corridor, for example).
The microzones of the classroom
The microzones of the classroom must be scalable to follow the needs of children as they develop: choose furniture on casters or skates for more flexibility during the year. Choosing mobile equipment also makes it possible to adapt a class to several ages in the case of a “multi-age” kindergarten class: we do not play in the same way in Small, Medium, or Large sections.
Games and spaces that change with the age of the students
In Petite Section (around 2 or 3 years old, when the child discovers himself and asserts himself as a subject). We promote exploration and construction games for fine motor skills. Provide spaces where the child can settle down with his play: on the floor on a carpet or at his table with a large enough surface. Games requiring motor skills are, of course, crucial. These need you to leave the kindergarten educationand to go to the gymnasium or the playground. Around four years old, in the Middle Section, learning is acquired in an “informal” way, during free games and the first structured games, with more and more time devoted to symbolic games, construction, and exploration.
Writing preparation activities
In the Grande Section, space devotes to writing preparation activities. That implies more stable seats so that the child settles down correctly and confirms his excellent pencil holding. But this area, which looks more “classic” (a work surface with seats all around). That can also use for classroom play activities: board games, construction games, or increasingly complex puzzles. The other activity zones can remain in place, for scientific exploration games in kindergarten education. For example ( the video from the Ontario Science Center gives several ideas in this direction.
Finally, we see that learning through play is essential for children (and it does not stop with “grown-ups. Look at the many training solutions for adults based on “gaming.”). The layout of the classroom, with its small, well-demarcated areas, is crucial. Defined by the teacher, these spaces help to give the child a safe environment. But it was also inspiring, thanks to a diversity of colors and shapes and the comfort that it offers. It is aimed at slightly older children. We can also integrate digital into play in kindergarten. Exploration game, in particular, using a tablet to capture images related to a subject discussed in class (insects, plants, etc.)