Feature

The Lost Art of Play

Brenda Schepper

If adult learning is child’s play, then the teachers gathered on this cold Saturday morning in March understand what is meant by the expression “Playing is learning and learning is playing.”

Approximately thirty interested educators from ETFO’s Kawartha Pine Ridge Teacher Local have met for breakfast and the second of two active learning sessions dedicated to exploring elements of dance, drama, music and visual arts through rich picture books. This  Primary ETFO Arts  book club offers an excellent opportunity for teachers to engage in learning more about the arts by moving, singing, playing, laughing, sharing, connecting, listening, collaborating, creating and imagining.

The teachers arrive to find an open, desk-free space with a circle of chairs around the perimeter of the room. “She always begins her work in circles,” says Kim. “Circles are an important way to build community and build relationships. Circles are inclusive, not exclusive. Now my students form a circle every morning too!”

We begin the day in a standing circle with a song:

Hello. How do you do? It’s good to be with you.

Hello. How do you do? It’s good to be with you.

Hello. How do you do? It’s good to be with you.

It’s good to be together here with you!

We form concentric circles as we add movement to our song. The room fills with laughter as we try to figure out how we can repeat a grand chain movement correctly. In between each repetition of this simple greeting, the teachers share the arts experiences they had their students participate in as a result of the learning from the previous  Primary ETFO Arts  book club session. We are mingling to music.

Leah shares an imaginative advertisement for a particular kind of shoe that she wants to entice the participants to buy that has come out of her class’s reading of  Those Shoe s by Maribeth Boelts. She walks around the room pointing dramatically at the imagined shoes. The teachers gathered are uplifted by the laughter generated by her improvised creative thinking.

Colleen shares dance phrases that her students created after reading  I’m Here.  These movement sequences emulate the flight path of the paper airplane in Peter Reynolds’ book. The movement sequences start with a beginning balance shape, use a variety of locomotor movements along a pathway and end with another balance shape.

After a reading of  Ish, another book by Peter Reynolds, Tracy shares some stunning visual artworks that are Mondrian-ish. The teachers generate multiple ideas about doing “ish” artwork based upon many artists (Van Gogh-ish, Picasso-ish, Henry Moore-ish).

Learning About the Arts through Play

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