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Many teachers feel they can’t easily incorporate purposeful play into the classroom--but doing so is surprisingly easy

Purposeful play helps kids learn–here’s how to integrate it


Many teachers feel they can’t easily incorporate purposeful play into the classroom--but doing so is surprisingly easy

Key points:

  • Teachers agree that learning through play is a more effective way for students to learn compared to more traditional approaches
  • Students say their favorite times in the classroom are when they get to do hands-on activities and believe that play helps them learn
  • See related article: How to integrate a computer science curriculum into K-5 classrooms
  • For more news on teaching trends and curriculum, visit eSN’s Innovative Teaching page

A new survey of K-8 teachers and students from LEGO Education found that nearly all (98 percent) of students say purposeful play helps them learn and the majority (96 percent) of teachers believe it’s more effective than traditional methods like lectures or textbooks. On top of that, almost 80 percent of students want more playful learning experiences in the classroom.

Despite these benefits, 40 percent of teachers are incorporating play only once a week or less, and nearly half (47 percent) think they spend too much time on it.

“Many teachers feel they can’t easily incorporate play into the classroom, so LEGO Education created the Permission to Play kit as that first step. Once you see students engaged and learning through play, it clicks and the question goes from how to how do we add more?” said Dr. Jenny Nash, Head of Education Impact, U.S. for LEGO Education.

Key findings include:

  • Teachers are craving permission to play and the support they need to implement more play-based learning: Right now, 40 percent of teachers incorporate play once a week or less and in fact, 47 percent of teachers think they spend too much time on play. However, nearly half of teachers say they would be more likely to incorporate play in their classroom if they had support from school administration (46 percent) and parents (45 percent). 
  • Teachers and students both benefit from purposeful play in the classroom: 97 percent of teachers say that learning through play reduces their feelings of burnout. At the same time, 98 percent of students stated that playing in the classroom helps them learn, with 89 percent saying it makes them more excited to go to school.  
  • Teachers see and students feel the difference when they get to learn in fun ways: 81 percent of teachers find their students are much more or somewhat more engaged during play versus during standard lessons. At the same time, students say play makes them want to learn more (43 percent), helps them remember what they learn (42 percent), and helps them pay attention (40 percent). 
  • Teachers and students want more play but need support: Nearly half of teachers say they would be more likely to incorporate play in their classrooms if they had support from school administrators (46 percent) and parents (45 percent).At the same time, 45 percent of teachers say ready-to-use or downloadable lesson plans would persuade them to incorporate more play. 

“For nearly three decades, I used purposeful play in my classroom and have seen firsthand the impact it has on both students and teachers,” said Alicia Miller, a retired elementary school teacher from Evans, GA. “There are a lot of trends and products that have their place, but the biggest game-changer for education is hands-on, playful learning. I encourage every teacher, principal, and parent to try a play-based learning activity with their students and see what joyful and meaningful learning should look like. Our students and teachers deserve to love learning again.”

Teachers, administrators, or parents can get Permission to Play by visiting Rebuild The World, where they can:

  • Take the Pledge: Commit to adding purposeful play to your own classroom or encourage teachers you know to add more play.
  • Download free activities: Bring purposeful play into your classroom with activities for you and your students to join in on the fun (can be used with or without LEGO Education products).
  • Track your play: Get your student(s) involved to see how much progress you’re making with a Color-By-Number template and “Learning in Progress” poster.

This press release originally appeared online.

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Laura Ascione

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