In her book, Invitations to Play: Using Play to Build Literacy Skills in Young Learners, Anne Burke explores why it is important that children are encouraged and supported in their play in primary classrooms. Burke begins with oral language development and then moves to reading and writing, digital literacy, music, ELL, creating citizenship in the classroom and briefly touches on mathematics.
Invitations to Play is well-researched and cites many psychologists and early childhood researchers. Burke explains why play is the most natural way children learn, as well as being the basis on which children acquire language. As she explains, “Seeing the rightful placement of play as a pedagogy that responds to and addresses early literacy and numeracy skills is a return to the natural way in which young children learn.” (p. 12)
Although most of this book is focused on the philosophical connection between play and learning, Burke has also included practical examples you can immediately put in place in your classroom, as well as stories directly from teachers and her own observations of children at play.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is new to teaching Kindergarten or who is returning to Kindergarten after teaching elsewhere for a number of years, as the approach in this book aligns with almost everything in the Kindergarten program. As the Kindergarten program does, Burke recognizes that children learn language through play. I would also recommend this book to anyone who is interested in trying to incorporate a greater number of playful, hands-on learning experiences in Grades 1 and 2. The foundational principles in this book would help the teacher tie together the purposeful, hands-on learning in art, music, science and physical education with greater development in oral language development and early literacy.
Marlene Sutton is a member of the Hastings and Prince Edward Teacher Local.