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Far too few schools and even fewer teachers properly recognize the educational value of play. Every experience has a dramatic effect on a child’s knowledge and future development as students and productive members of society. When a child is allowed to play shapes their development in significant ways.

Muscle memory, spatial memory, and the ability to manipulate the world around them are some of the most powerful influences on a child’s mind and the growth of their knowledge. Children effortlessly absorb knowledge from everything they do. This is one of many reasons why it is so easy for younger people to learn new languages.

So how can educators take advantage of a lesson plan that involves play?

Select the Right Toys and Tools
If a class is going to learn by playing, it is clear the first priority for the teacher should be to properly define the boundaries. What a child is given as a toy or tool is going to influence what activities they choose. The more engaging these objects are, the more likely they will be a positive influence on a play-based lesson.

Generally speaking, anything that requires the child to move from place to place or to perform physical activities of some kind on a relatively regular basis is going to be effective in this role.

Select the Right Objectives
Once a child has been properly equipped, the next step is to decide what they are to accomplish. If they have building materials, for example, what should they construct? What criteria should it satisfy? If they have something more focused like a kite, for example, what might they accomplish? Will their achievement be based on altitude or based on alterations to the kite’s design?

The combination of toys, tools, and objectives can be extremely powerful, especially if they can be connected in some way to an overall academic theme like mathematics or to developing essential skills like creativity or empathy. These play-based lessons are likely to become the most memorable in a child’s academic career, so it is vital teachers find the right combinations and adjust them to fit each class and its particular preferences.

For a lot of teachers, the opportunity to get kids outdoors where they’re doing something other than sitting quietly is enough incentive. When they see the results, most teachers are likely to expand their use of play activities and will see better results.