Let Them play! Let Them Play! – Global School Play Day

Let them play! Let Them Play! was the chant in my head this morning as I was thinking of the day ahead. It was from the movie from when I was a kid, Bad News Bears.

Global School Play Day is a day to just play. Scott Bedley and his brother Tim Bedley are some of the organizers for this event. The event encourages us to take a day to learn through play. Whether it be board games, outdoor games, creating games or even playing in a sandbox. “In his TEDx lecture, Peter Gray clearly argues the case that today’s kids do not grow up playing and this has negatively impacted them in many ways. It’s time we return the gift of play to this generation.”

So my fourth and fifth graders spent today doing just that. It was fun seeing them excited this morning holding their games they had brought. I even had a parent tell me that her son was up an hour earlier to come to school today. I tweeted that out and was retweeted and favorited many of times. I was sent a message from another parent through ClassDojo on how much his daughter was looking forward to this day. She was excited to come to school with her game to play with others.

Students played and played all day. Games ranged from simple board games to the strategic game of chess. We even went outside and played with some chalk. Students interacted with each other, played and had fun. Here are some of the tweets from the day:

These students even played in the snow. Now that is what I remember as a kid growing up in the Buckeye State, near Cleveland, Ohio.

During the morning we even connected with Scott Bedley’s 5th grade classroom via Skype to see what the students would do. There was some interaction and some attempts at communication between the two classes, but it was nice to see another class have as much fun as we did today. Student’s took pictures on their iPads and are eager to blog about their experience today. I will post when they become available.

JasonSeliskar_2015-Feb-04 3   JasonSeliskar_2015-Feb-04 2  JasonSeliskar_2015-Feb-04 4 JasonSeliskar_2015-Feb-04

It was a very fun day and I think the students walked away with an experience they don’t get to have often. An experience that incorporates school and school friends and peers. This allowed students to interact with each other in more of a social setting. They shared emotional connections.

There was mostly laughter, sharing and smiles around. One instance, a student went by herself to put a puzzle together. She said she didn’t want to play any games and nobody wanted to play hers. I think there was some emotional social struggles going on. It seem to have worked itself out as she was playing her game and others soon after. Another time, a student was at her desk coloring. I asked her why she was coloring, she said she just needed a break. The noise level was up and I can even identify with just being alone for a few minutes. As I enjoy the quiet writing this post, it was worth the noise to see the interaction and joy that was here today. It was nice to connect with another class and we definitely will be doing this again.


Integrate Google Drawing into Writing

Finding creative, dare I say innovative ways to do the same task in a different way can transform student writing. We as teachers have always taught students to use some kind of organizer to start the writing process. But is writing even a process anymore, but a mere brainstorm draft and a series of revisions that can go on ans on. There is always some tweek, change, update that can be made when it comes to writing. There is a final draft because there is probably a deadline for the writing. But writing can be always looked at different and changed and retold. Sir Ken Robinson has spoken about a book he needed to make some edits to for a new update of the book and he ended up rewriting the whole book not just parts.

In my district we use Thinking Maps to help students organize and think through their writing. We have charts, paper sheets and posters to teach with and for students to practice with. Nothing against this process, but how does this show the overall process. We do the brainstorming and then ends in a final draft. We always just see the final product. That is what we have required. How about incorporating the brainstorming into the the final draft? Sharing the thought cycle in a way that allows the reader in on the writer’s process. This allows the reader to see how the writing was created, developed and then synthesized.

Using Google Drawing in Google Docs allows this to happen. I teach fourth graders and we use the maps to think out the thoughts, sequencing, relationships and others. These maps can be recreated in Google Drawing and then inserted into the writing in the students’ Google document.

Below is the beginning stages of a narrative in a sequential map with details. This is being used to write a categorical narrative of a field trip to San Diego we went on.


This can be taken into a Google document with other maps made in Google Drawing. Allowing the writing to tell more than just the written story. There are visual thinking maps that show another side.

As shown, students created these maps and are using them in the midst of the writing draft.

Circle Map

They do this while in their Google Document. Google Drawing is inserted seamlessly. Simply going to “Insert” in the tools bar and then selecting Drawing. You can then create or import the drawing into the document.


At the end of the day, however you require your students to write, this can be a good tool to incorporate into writing whether it be before the organized writing or during it. Having the thoughts of your students in front of you while you read their writing can be a powerful insight into each individual students thought pattern. You might not do this for every piece of writing, but a times it allows us see into the thinking behind the creation. We don’t read stories or newspaper articles with the authors brainstorming incorporated, but as a teacher and guiding your students in writing, this can be another portal to understanding our students, the way they think, organize and create.


So try it with your students. It helped me follow them through their process and gave me insight to further help them along that process at a deeper level. It allowed me to see what they felt was relevant and important in what they were communicating. You get to see the unused, the ideas that didn’t make the cut, the ones that seemed important at the time, and now don’t have a place in the masterpiece created. You get to then have those conversations of why this idea or detail made it into the writing versus another. It allows you to start a conversation to assess your student in a way a rubric cannot.



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