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Play in the Kindergarten Classroom

What can you remember about Kindergarten (or first grade for those who didn't attend Kindergarten)?
When I think about my Kindergarten experience I'm warmed with memories of playing in the leaves on a fall day, sitting on the carpet listening to my teacher play songs on her guitar, color with fat crayons and writing my name with a fat pencil, heading home after lunch, and lots of playtime.
What will 21st Century Kindergarteners remember about their experience years from now? 
Will they remember taking standardized tests on the computer, learning perfect penmanship after practicing on worksheets, memorizing sight words from long lists, mastering math facts with a pencil and paper, and "Magic School Bus" videos watched from their desks?
As teachers and parents is this how we want our Kinders to remember their very first school experience? For me, I can answer that with a resounding, "NO!"
 (Okay - except maybe the "Magic School Bus" part - I love that show!)
When I first started teaching Kindergarten a few years ago I believed that Kinders in the 21st Century didn't really need playtime with half-dressed baby dolls and a hodgepodge of wooden blocks and that if I were to focus on my standards I would not have time for such frivolities. After a year or so I started to realize that, although my students were learning at pretty high levels, something was missing in my Kindergarten classroom and I found myself asking,
"Why is P-L-A-Y a 4-Letter Word?" Read more here!

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