In Choice Time, Dinnerstein offers readers a taxonomy of play adapted from this report, nine types encompassing “forms of exploration that support…social, emotional, creative, and intellectual growth.” Never mind the overlap in form and function—children develop mastery, learn rules, and have their senses engaged in many kinds of play. In clear, simple language, she sets forth the rationale, rooted in research, for the centers of the ideal classroom:
"… it’s a laboratory for exploratory learning, a place where children build things, conduct experiments, create innovative art projects, read fascinating books, write original stories, use technology and texts to find out information and feel free to imagine and try out possibilities. It’s a place where children grow big ideas, make new friends, and dig deeply into exciting investigations."
Here, learning is collaborative, students’ voices are heard, and their work documented. The teacher is the guide, scaffolding “children’s natural instincts for play, introducing materials and posing questions and ideas that help them develop a wide range of skills.”
Observation and recording, a vanishing skill in the age of quick, quantitative assessment, undergirds practice. Close, careful attention to children yields information for extending their learning. In the centers Dinnerstein proposes (blocks, science, reading nook, dramatic play, math, and art), these strategies hold, and she tells her readers just what to do, chapters interspersed with charts called “Teaching Interventions,” lined with observations and possible responses.
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