7 Elements of Play & How They Impact Learning in the Classroom
Element #4: Spinning
by Deborah Stevens-Smith View Bio & Jami Murdock View Bio
Dr Deborah Smith has taught at Clemson University for 28 years in the College of Education. She teaches elementary physical education methods to preservice teachers with a focus on enhancing play in the classroom. Dr. Smith is a professor in the College of Education at Clemson University, Clemson, SC. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Jami Murdock has been an early childhood educator for over 25 years with a focus on using play to prepare children for upcoming educational experiences. She operated an “in home” daycare center for 13 years and has been teaching preschool for the past 12 years. She has experience working with children on the autism spectrum and sensory processing dysfunction. Jami presents on “How Important are Playground Activities to a Child’s Success in the Classroom.” Her passion is her family and her work with children. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit www.abcreative.net for more information on the author's work
- Climbing increases muscle tone and strength in both fine and gross motor movements.
- The act of climbing sharpens visual perception and motor skills as they decide where to place a foot or hand to move up or down.
- Problem-solving and decision-making skills are also enhanced through climbing
Read the article for even more benefits!
Fromberg states that play is the “ultimate integrator of human experience”. When children play, they use fine and gross motor skills; they problem solve to think about what they are doing or are going to do, they use language to communicate to themselves and friends and respond to a variety of emotions. All of these factors combine to integrate and enhance the development of the cognitive experience.
"Without PLAY, learning and evolution are impossible." (Nachmanovitch, S. 1990, p. 42).
Play unites all of these elements, and that is why it is a very effective vehicle for learning. In our fourth series article, we focus on the element of spinning. Traditional playgrounds used to have ample opportunities for children to spin. Today's modern playgrounds are less likely to provide equipment where children can spin due to safety concerns. Yet, spinning provokes an extreme reaction in the brain that children crave. Think about the number of carnival rides that involve spinning, where if done long enough the brain will react with dizziness, falling over, nausea, flushing of the face, or even tossing your cookies! This reaction occurs because the brain is protecting itself from too much input and it responds by telling you it's time to stop with one of these reactions.
More spinning activities need to be added to educational curriculums and playgrounds because of the impact it has on the developing brain. Spinning is good, and it is one of the elements that positively enhance the vestibular system. Spinning allows children to experience shifts in their weight, develop depth perception, balance, and the cause and effects of motion. Spinning is the most potent form of sensory input that the brain takes in and processes.
The definition of spinning is to rotate rapidly or whirl. A swift whirling motion.
BENEFITS ON THE PLAYGROUND:
- It enhances sensory stimulation in the areas of touch, balance, and feel.
- It develops decision-making skills as children must think while in motion.
- Spinning helps with postural control as they have to stand tall or fall off the spinner.
- Social interactions are improved as the child is forced to take turns and get along with whomever is pushing or riding along.
- Kinesthetic awareness (the act of knowing where your body is in space) is enhanced as the child must determine where he/she is in space and move without collisions. A hypersensitive child may fear to spin and get dizzy quickly, but spinning can be used here as a tolerance builder for better vestibular input.
- It also helps to build muscle strength and endurance as the child has to grip and hold on as he/she spins.
BENEFITS IN THE CLASSROOM:
View last week’s article 7 Elements of PLAY & How They Impact Learning in the Classroom: Brachiating on The Genius of Play’s website. Check back next week for the fifth element of play: climbing.
- Spinning helps the development of both sides of the brain for effective integration.
- It also helps kids pay better attention, since both sides of the brain are being utilized.
- Spinning enhances vestibular stimulation, which helps the brain decide if it is ready for more learning and can process what's taught.
- Spinning teaches kids the laws of motion like speed, force, and direction.