Exploration Stations

Sunday, October 11, 2015
Playing is learning! Teachers have so much content to teach and curriculum to follow, but allowing students time to play is so worth it!
This year, I have implemented Exploration Stations. I am not able to fit in every day, but we try to schedule it as much as possible. Also, if my students get through some required work early, as a class, we dive in our play! The only rule we have is no technology! My students are on technology for a lot of instruction time, so I want them to experience some play without screen time.

Students build such amazing skills through this time. They're able to build imagination and creativity. They work collaboratively with peers. Students are building relationships and working on speaking to one another appropriately. Here area few ways we implement Exploration Stations in the classroom!

1. Board Games
Board games are a great way for students to build strategic skills, as well as communicate with others and being good sports. Some of our favorites include Battleship, Candy Land and Connect Four.

2. Legos
Kids LOVE Legos! They're able to build and work on that creativity and imagination. They can definition add up in price, but they truly never get old.

3. Card Games
Kids LOVE old school War, Crazy 8s and Solitaire. Cards are such a great tool to have in the classroom. I was able to go to my local casino and they donated so many sets to my school!

4. Magna Tiles
Magna Tiles are super addicting! They can be a bit pricey, but you can definitely find deals on Amazon or get the knock-off brand. Find them HERE on Amazon. They work just as great - more bang for your buck :)

5. Dominoes
Play actual dominoes, stack them, build marble mazes - anything works! Grab some reasonable dominoes HERE and marbles HERE.

6. Free Art Time
I bought some cheap yarn and beads. Kids went crazy for them and they have lasted awhile. Kids also love braiding the yarn to make bracelets and necklaces. Students can also use this time to use their own art supplies, extra paper, markers, etc. Giving kids some freedom with these materials sparks some creativity.

7. Check the Target Dollar Spot!
More often than not, there are always little toys, connectors, cheap items that students can use to build or create! Cheap and easy way to incorporate engineering and math into the Exploration Stations.

It's pretty amazing what your students can do given the time to practice these skills. I also give my students choice on what they want to do during this time - as long as there is no technology! Give them a little digital detox and give those kiddos time to PLAY!

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