GSE at Rutgers Day 2019: Play is Learning

For the third year in a row, Rutgers GSE showcased our popular “Play is Learning” theme at Rutgers Day! The GSE hosted several play stations for kids to enjoy while the adults were able to learn more about not only what skills were being attained from these different methods of play, but why play overall is important to children and their development.

A station with a lot of activity was the “Creative Play Center”, full of kinetic sand and Play-Doh. Children were able to build shapes with the sand and practice sharing while taking turns with the different bins of sand. They were also able to build and create different shapes with Play-Doh and build their content knowledge by mixing colors to create new ones.

Over at the “Construction Play Center,” children were able to use their problem-solving skills to build – and destroy – block towers while building different structures. These activities also allowed them the chance to exercise their use of sustained attention and create something they were happy with. There were also Geo Stix available for the children to build with, along with cards to show them how to build different shapes such as cars, flowers, and boats.

The “Dramatic Play Center” was also a hit with many children leaving with a puppet they had created. In some cases parents helped their kids with the creation process and also made puppets of their own. Once the puppets were built, the symbolic representation was visible as they pretended their puppet was a doctor or a superhero. Children had the option of making a human puppet or an animal one, with many choosing to make animals like elephants, tigers, frogs, and bears.

Once again, the Center for Literacy Development provided their “Make and Take a Story Sparkle Center” – complete with iconic images from classic children’s stories as well as glitter and other materials for the kids to use to make the image their own. Parents also seemed to like this station, where some would help their child and others colored a picture for themselves. Some of the children with puppets also visited this booth to either add some sparkle to their puppets or to find a story to go along with their new friend.

In addition to these, Dr. Mary Curran and her team from the Conversation Tree Program put on a Multicultural Storytelling station, featuring stories told in English, American Sign Language, Spanish, French, Mandarin, and others. Complete with accompanying story boards and props, they told stories with the intention of showing how using context clues can lead to greater understanding of those who may speak another language. This was a popular station among kids and passing adults, who often came to sit in on the stories throughout the day.

Dr. Kathy Shoemaker set up a station on Mindfulness, attracting those of all ages to understand what mindfulness is, what it can do for them, and various methods of achieving mindfulness. Some sensory activities included blowing bubbles, timed breathing and meditation, counting, and more. GSAC set up science experiments and games for visitors. Their science experiment involved coloring milk and using other products to make the colors mix and swirl. They also had a sight words fly swatting game where the players would have to slap the fly with the right word first to earn points.

GSE visitors stayed at our tent for quite some time as parents enjoyed being able to sit and take a break while their children explored different methods of play. Several parents thanked us for reminding them why play is important and it really brought home the “Play is Learning” theme for our team. Special thanks to all of the volunteers from around the GSE who helped contribute to yet another successful day of play!

Visit our Flickr album for photos of the day!