play based learning

Teaching Through Games

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Let’s play games!

Teachers use lots of ways in conducting their lessons. One of them is through games. The advantages of using games for students include:

  1. Competition factor: Generate positive competition among peers to achieve stated objectives of the games
  2. Discipline factor: Allow students to be able to follow series of instructions or rules.
  3. Unity factor: Teach students about teamwork, sense of belonging and unselfishness. Games also encourage the students to play for teams instead of their own personal accomplishment.
  4. Confidence factor: Games enhance students’ confidence and communication skills.

Here are some games that I have used for teaching students mathematical concepts.

Game 1: “Throw the Ball”


  1. Place 4 trays in line. Put some division facts in each tray. The closest tray consists of the most difficult questions. The easiest questions are in the furthest tray.
  2. Students make a line and give them a ball (I used ping pong balls) and asked them to shoot the ball into the tray. Yes, most of them tried to shoot the ball in the furthest tray, which has the easiest questions.
  3. If the ball is out, students will line up again from the back.

4. Once the ball got into the tray, ask students to get a piece of paper and answer the questions by themselves.

5. If they can’t answer in a given time, students will then line up from the back.

6. Finish this game until all the questions have been answered.

Game 2: “Solving Word Problems”


  1. Prepare papers with question. Label each paper 1, 2, 3 and so on.
  2. Divide class into groups.
  3. Each group stands in front of a piece of paper.
  4. Let students answer the questions on post-it notes. Tell them to put the answers at the back of the paper.

5. Ask students to move clockwise to the next paper.

6. Stop until all the groups are back to their first paper.

7. Discuss the answers together.

Game 3: “Group Yourselves Equally”


  1. The students stand in a circle.

2. Give the question, “Group yourselves into 2”, “Group yourselves into 3”, and so on.

3. Ask students to count how many groups they made.

4. Write down the number with the equal answers. Examples include 9 (18 ÷ 2) and 6 (18 ÷ 3).

5. Discuss why some students were not in groups. It means the number cannot be divided equally. Examples are 18 ÷ 4 and 18 ÷ 5.

6. Discuss and review what numbers are really equal if you divide for 18.


I found that the students really enjoyed these games. The students actively participated and cooperated well during the activities. Using games in teaching creates an exciting learning atmosphere for the students and the teachers as well.

By: Debby Selvianita

Grade 1 Co-Teacher



Yahmad, S. B. H. Motivating students with games.


Grade 1 Exploring Forces through Games

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What is Play-based Pedagogy?

Play-based pedagogy describes an approach where the teacher recognizes that children learn through an active, hands-on, playful environment. In a play-based classroom, the teacher makes decisions about, and adjusts, the daily schedule, environment, materials, interactions and activities based upon the strengths, needs, interests, and input of the students to enhance learning opportunities. (Common Understandings – Play-based Pedagogy, Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, page 35).

As active children, Grade 1 students enthusiastically explore the world around them through play-based learning. For the young students playing is an effective provocation, one which stimulates their thinking skills in connection to their unit of inquiry.

Under the theme ‘How the World Works’, Grade 1 students had the opportunity to play several games to engage their knowledge about the impact of forces on everyday life. We joined two classes to play frisbee, bowling, javelin, soccer and tug of war. During the games, the students observed important information. We found out that the games had different rules and procedures. We also observed how the objects that we used moved, and identified differences between the weight and size of the objects. Through the games we found out that the more power we use, the faster things move. We also practised our social skills and communication skills by showing our respect for each other.

After we played the games, we held a discussion and some of the students recognized the similarities between the games. The games required us to perform certain actions (throw, push and pull) to make the objects move from one place to another. To engage our knowledge, we read a variety of books, including ‘The Enormous Turnip’, ‘I Can’t Open It’ and ‘Motion’. We also had the opportunity to role play ‘The Enormous Turnip’ book in front of our friends. This story helped us to understand that we need forces to make things speed up or slow down.

One of our formative assessments required students to differentiate between pictures using a Venn Diagram. Students categorized which pictures showed pushing activities, pulling activities or both. After finishing, the students did a bus stop activity to observe other groups’ ideas. From the observation, students found out that other groups had different ideas so we held a discussion to enrich our understanding.

Here are some examples of the students’ comments.

Group A: “Bu, we observed that other groups put the fishing picture as an example of a pulling activity. We think it’s supposed to be a pushing and pulling activity because we have to cast the fishing line out first and after we get the fish, we have to pull it.”

Group B: “We put the fishing picture as an example of pulling activity because we saw the girl in the picture already got her fish, so she only needed to pull the fishing line in.”

When discussing the other pictures, the students sometimes had the same opinions and sometimes their opinions were different. We learnt that it is important to listen to others’ opinions, because every point of view has its own angle and every angle has merit.

We also conducted some experiments about how forces affect movement. Students explored the three stations provided, each representing different types of force. After doing the activities at the three stations, students explained their experiences in one particular station through drawing and writing.

We believe that through play students are able to explore things more enthusiastically and also learn how to negotiate with one another and solve problems, be more of a risk-taker, and develop self-confidence.

Grade 1 Teachers

Sekolah Pilar Indonesia

Involving Parents in Play-based Learning

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On November 18, 2016, early years classroom teachers facilitated an information session on play-based learning for parents at BINUS School Simprug in Jakarta. It was an informative and engaging session. The teachers shared their knowledge and experience in teaching children using the play-based approach.


At the beginning of the session, parents were asked to recall and share an early memory about learning through play. It was interesting to know that some of the parents who are from different countries played similar activities such as hopscotch, jumping with rubber-band rope, hide and seek, role playing and jackstones. They also used native materials or instruments due to limited resources or creativity. Parents came up on inventing games without the need for anything but themselves. Many of the traditional games shared by parents appeal to a broad age and don’t require much equipment.

In this session, the definition of play was emphasized as any activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, especially for children. It was pointed out that play without enjoyment is not play. Children do not necessarily need expensive toys to enjoy playing. It is even encouraged for the children to explore their surroundings and materials when playing. In that way, they will be more creative and spontaneous.


As adults, it is important to interact and observe the children when they play so that we will be more aware of their interest and to have a better understanding of our children, including how they think and behave. It is through play that children learn or acquire information, develop physically and socially and express themselves confidently. German educator Friedrich Froebel stressed that “play is the highest expression of human development in childhood, for it alone is the free expression of what is in a child’s soul.”

The poem, “The Hundred Languages of Children” by Loris Malaguzzi beautifully conveys the important roles imagination and discovery play in early childhood learning. The poem points out that “the child is made of one hundred. The child has a hundred languages, a hundred hands, a hundred thoughts, a hundred ways of thinking, playing, of speaking. A hundred always a hundred…”

The hundred languages are the endless number of children’s potentials, their ability to wonder and inspire. The poem reminds us that there are multiple ways of seeing and multiple ways of being. As adults (parents and teachers), we should not hinder them but support them instead.

The “Not a Box” story also captures children’s imaginations at play and how boxes or other objects can become anything. It brought back a particular memory of the box I took from my mother’s kitchen. I used it to become the flooring of our toy house, which was made of banana and coconut leaves. I had fun playing in my house with my siblings and friends and until now I still recall how we helped each other in building it.

According to Sir Ken Robinson, who is an expert on learning and children’s education, “imagination is the source of all human achievement.” Imagination is essential in the learning process and can advance cognitive development. Young children often learn about events, cultures or people that they will never meet, and imaginative play is a way for them to discover the world that surrounds them and collect experiences. Through imaginative play, children are more likely to adapt learning habits and to develop their communication skills.

Children learn important skills through play such as solving problems, thinking creatively and critically, and interacting with others. There is also a link between PLAY and foundational skills and complex cognitive activities.

After the sharing session, our Early Years parents realized the importance of play in their children’s development and their roles as parents in supporting them as they play.

By: Lea S. Carbonell

Early Years Class Teacher and Level Head