Learning Through Play

06 Nov

Learning through play is certainly not a new idea or term, but seeing places other than classrooms or field trips as learning through play experiences may be a much newer concept. The term “learning through play” makes me feel that we’re essentially tricking our minds into learning essential concepts or ideas while having fun and being creative.

I know some older people who like learning but would never consider “playing” and some younger people who would prefer to play and not think about the learning concept. I feel like both sides could be reached depending on how the particular program in question is being marketed. After all, nobody is really too old to play, and what you might learn is that you like to play! Maybe I just know too many grumpy people, haha.

Paper, Messy, Notes, Abstract, Paperwork, Documents
Photo from Pixabay

I really enjoyed reading about Sacramento Public Library’s yearly scavenger hunts where they worked together with local businesses to make the adventure and following the clues even more fun. In addition to highlighting those small businesses, which the parents might remember and think about in the future, the activity also encouraged the children to work together with cooperation, as well as sustainability and ecology.

I know we learned about this a couple of weeks ago, but all of this talk about libraries as learning spaces reminds me of The Mix at the San Francisco Public Libraries. I mean, their “Art and Design Wednesdays” have events such as creating lip balm and learning about the science behind it, and, of course, building robots. In addition to this, when the teens worked together to create the space, they had to have played around a lot with designing fun areas, and with the different types of technologies they were going to make available.

This made me curious about what kind of playing to learn activities were available at my local library. There is an ongoing “Stitching in the Stacks” meetup each week, where you can bring whatever you’re working on and talk to other people who knit, crochet, cross-stitch, or embroider. I’ve attended a few times, and I always end up learning something there because people are so happy and willing to share their knowledge and teach others.

Three dinosaurs play among prehistoric butterflies.
Image from Humboldt County Library

For kids, they’re having something called Dinovember where they have different activities involving dinosaurs. This week’s activity says: ” It’s Dinovember – what are the dinosaurs doing in the library? Reading books from the Author Festival? Stomp down to the library and find out! Measure your size against a dinosaur, play a dinosaur matching game, and help stage some dinosaur photos in the children’s room. Make some dinosaur stamp art and check out some dinosaur books. Bring your family to the library for a fun night of literacy play.” I really like that term, “literacy play”.

I feel that literacy play is available all over the place, without us even realizing it most of the time. That’s the best type of play, I think!


Posted by on November 6, 2019 in Reflections


4 Responses to Learning Through Play

  1. Michael Stephens

    November 18, 2019 at 10:48 pm

    These are brilliant examples of what is possible under the learning banner. I like the term ‘literacy play’ as well. Intriguing to think about all the age groups we could reach with that. Imagine Adulting 101 classes as literacy play…

    • Alice Roy

      November 21, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      Adulting 101 classes are perfect for literacy play, for sure!

  2. Tori

    November 20, 2019 at 1:43 am

    @aliceroy, I love the examples you chose for literacy play! Reading your post, I couldn’t help being reminded of a term I came across as a high-schooler (and found an excuse to work into my undergrad thesis): “ludic reading.”
    The term comes from Victor Nell’s 1988 “Lost in a Book: The Psychology of Reading for Pleasure,” and it describes the dreamy trance-like state that a lot of us get from reading for pleasure. When you’re absorbed in something you enjoy, it’s almost like being hypnotized–the perfect time to sneak in some learning!

    • Alice Roy

      November 21, 2019 at 4:49 pm

      Thanks, Tori! Ludic reading reminds me of my childhood, I used to always have my nose in a book and could lose hours and hours inside one. I definitely agree that it’s the perfect time to sneak in some reading!


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