In our Kindergarten crew’s first literacy module this year, we have been working to become experts about toys and play. We explored the questions: What can we do to make playing together fun? And What toys do others prefer? Why do they prefer them? We started our study by exploring different types of toys and describing attributes of toys. We then learned about what toys others prefer, first by learning about toys that kids from long ago played with and then by working with a partner to discover what toys they prefer playing with. To culminate our study of toys, we organized a school-wide toy drive to collect toys for the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, and created tags to go with the toys that include a picture of the toy and two sentences of writing about how to play with that toy.
One way that we were able to learn about and become experts on toys and play was by talking with and interviewing experts about toys and play. We started our module by interviewing a Child Life Specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Ms. Sinead. This interview helped us understand about why kids in the hospital need toys and what kinds of toys they like to play with. We learned that children in the hospital have a play room that they go to to ease the stress of their treatments and to feel less lonely when they are away from their friends, family, or school. After we interviewed Ms. Sinead, we were able to come up with a list and create posters for our toy drive of which types of toys the Children’s Hospital needed and requested.
We continued to learn from experts throughout our module! When we learned about what toys others prefer and toys from long ago, we interviewed a classmate’s parent, who brought in two toys she had when she was a child! This helped us to understand what toys others prefer to play with and how toys have changed from long ago to today. Finally, we interviewed a student at DAA who spent some time at the Children’s Hospital a few years ago. He told us about what the toy room at the hospital was like and how going to the toy room helped him get through his illness and bring a smile to his face when he was away from his toys at home. Kindergarten students asked good questions to get a feel for why it was important to donate toys to kids who don’t have any, and throughout the writing and drawing of their toy tags, were passionate about making their work the best it could be to be able to support a real purpose.
Learning from and interviewing experts is one of the best ways to deepen our learning at DAA. Not only does it help students practice speaking and listening skills, but it also brings a real purpose to what we are learning and helps students make connections to the real world!