VIS staff and students aged 3 through 16 participated in two hours of unstructured play in honor of Global Play Day.  This event was in part a tribute to the effort put forth by our Early Childhood team in promoting the importance of play to the learning process.  VIS teacher Jenny Wong-Powell elaborates on the role of play in the article below: 

Writing and Play

Do you wonder why we play at school?

Literacy acquisition is a constructed skill, requiring students to develop discourse strategies. When it comes to writing as a craft,students develop their conscious awareness to the units and systems of written language. When it comes to writing as an art, writing appears to be magic. It is therefore our responsibility “to take our students backstage to watch the pigeons being tucked up in the magician’s sleeve” (Murray, 1985, p. 4) to enable students to develop their writing from a craft into an art.

In early childhood, students build the foundation for understanding the structures of written language through their imaginary play. As children play, the different roles they take on and the dialogue between each other during their play constitutes the characters and narratives in writing. Students use a similar representational process during imaginary play as they do when they are writing.

For an older student in PYP, the writing process can be supported through block play. When given blocks, it is observed that students develop an idea about what to create (planning). As they begin constructing (drafting), dialogue with their peers (refining) result in additions or omissions (editing) to their creations. When the creations are completed, students step back to enjoy their masterpiece(publishing). Through block play, students internalize the steps for producing a piece of writing.

In MYP, strategic board games help facilitate the development of the traits of writing. As students get to know the theme of the game,the ideas trait is supported as players find out the main message of the game. When students come up with a gameplay to outwit the other players, the students develop the trait of organization as they follow the sequence of their plan. The dialogue between players supports the development of conventions, practicing features including usage and sentence formation. Following the gameplay also involves the use of precise language surrounding the game (word choice) and students impart a personal tone as they develop the voice trait. The cadence, power and rhythm in the way the players strategically interact with each other develop the trait of sentence fluency.Playing strategic games supports and develops features for quality writing.

Play is serious work. Without play, we risk raising writers who do not adequately develop the foundation and strategies to support the development of their writing from a craft into an art. The power between the relationship between play and writing suggests that this is the way we learn now. Without play opportunities, we are in danger of raising less competent and confident writers. An emphasis on play does not detract from academic learning but actually enables students to learn (Bodrova & Leong, 2003).