Research shows that play is central to creative learning, meaning children need to engage in playful experiences in order to expand their imagination, make connections between subjects, and develop the necessary problem-solving abilities.
Researchers and theorists remain divided over an acceptable definition of play, ranging from discrete descriptions of various forms such as physical, construction, language, or symbolic play to lists of broad criteria.
1. Connecting with the Text
Play is an activity in which children engage in self-selected activities that bring enjoyment while suspending any sense of reality. From pretending to be queen in her kingdom to instructing younger brothers under her tutelage as her teacher, children learn vital socialization skills as they engage with play – while also developing critical connections to make sense of their world and make connections between others and themselves.
Students’ comprehension deepens when they can make meaningful connections between what they read and their lived experience, thus monitoring and improving comprehension levels themselves. This strategy, known as metacognitive reading strategies, also enhances reading comprehension skills.
Text-to-self connections are among the easiest for students to comprehend as they rely on existing knowledge to make sense of a story and understand it better. Students may recognize familiar themes, characters, or topics within a text that help make this connection.
Students can create text-to-text connections by recognizing similarities in two texts they have read, whether this be similar settings or having similar themes.
Students can make text-to-world connections by understanding how a theme or message in a story relates to them personally and the world at large. This requires higher-level thinking skills as it requires students to view articles from multiple angles, such as global or universal considerations.
2. Inferring from the Text
Inference refers to the ability to draw inferences from clues presented in a text, often called reading between the lines. Writers convey more than they directly state through subtly hinting or suggesting things within their writing; students need to develop this skill if they hope to understand texts effectively. An excellent way to teach inference is with wordless picture books or short dialogue that requires them to make inferences.
As students learn this strategy, make sure they comprehend that inferring is distinct from making predictions. Instead, inferring is the practice of connecting clues from text with previous knowledge to create a realistic guess at what may come next – for example, if a character in a story is crying, it would be reasonable to infer that his brother just made fun of him and caused their distress.
An inferring chart is an invaluable tool for helping students with inferring strategies. It gives them an organized place to record what they know, identify clues in text passages, and read between the lines – something the Comprehension Strategies Box includes, as well as a template specifically designed to assist this.
Once students are adept at answering literal questions, they can practice inferring by reading longer texts that include both explicit and implicit information. A great place to begin would be with Goldilocks and the Three Bears or The Very Hungry Caterpillar as starting points; then moving onto Kylene Beers’ “It Says, I Say and So” strategy, which helps students realize some questions are “Right There,” while others require them to search out evidence in both textual sources and personal reflection.
3. Making Connections
As children play, they often develop rules and symbols to regulate their interactions. This form of negotiation between children is one of the critical aspects of learning through play that teaches cooperation, leadership, and social boundaries, as well as how to connect their experiences to those of the world, both past and present.
Playing “school” with their brother allows children to practice both social and emotional skills while teaching them how to collaborate in playing together. By pretending she’s Queen or Bossing Him Around as their Teacher, they demonstrate their ability to take turns and assume different roles effectively.
Making connections is central to creative learning because it gives students an expressive channel through which to explore concepts they’re studying. Drama classes have been shown to enhance both reading and public speaking abilities, while long-term studies of music education show children benefiting more from learning math through music studies and vice versa.
Connections Classes for grades 1-3 offer students an immersive project-learning experience to bridge the curriculum through project-learning blocks. While working on Humanities-themed blocks, for instance, they can simultaneously develop math skills by designing and creating currency. Science comes into play when classifying it, and even the Fine Arts can make connections through unique artwork created by them!
Students benefit from having access to more knowledge. Encourage them to make connections between new learning and their existing knowledge by asking prompting questions such as “Does this remind you of something you have read or experienced before?” or “Have you ever seen this before? How is it similar and different?”.
4. Creating from the Text
Importantly, creative learning occurs when students go beyond what is written on the page, making connections, inferring meaning, and even rewriting texts they read. This approach to reading, known as creative or critical reading in some schools, allows for innovative analysis rather than just regurgitating what has already been said.
At its heart, Bloom’s Taxonomy–Evaluation sometimes known as Creating–is one of its highest levels; similarly, it forms an essential part of positive education and creativity studies research (Von Glasersfeld 2013).
Storytelling can be an excellent way to engage learners by appealing to their emotions, which in turn drives attention and increases retention. Engaging students this way keeps them on task for maximum learning potential and enhanced performance.
Additionally, it helps students become more connected to literature and its authors by giving them a platform for sharing personal experiences that have had an effect on them and shaping their perspectives. Furthermore, this process encourages them to explore various approaches to solving a problem, creating greater confidence and social awareness in them as individuals.
Additionally, this reading experience gives students a unique view of characters and their relationships among themselves. Through this process, students gain an enhanced appreciation of how complex relationships and events play out in real-life situations, helping them better comprehend real-life complexities themselves. With this deeper comprehension of text comes increased creativity when responding creatively; furthermore, it increases empathy toward others within daily life – this is true creativity in action!
5. Taking Action
Students need to take active steps toward making creative learning real and tangible for themselves and others, including coming up with ideas, solving problems, contributing to others’ knowledge, and making connections between emotions and experiences in class.
Emotions play an essential part in creativity and learning. Storytelling makes information more interesting by appealing to six primary emotions such as anger, disgust, fear, pleasure, sadness, and surprise – this helps maximize retention while maintaining unwavering attention.
Role-playing is another method for encouraging creative learning. It helps foster team-building, develop practical skills, and deepen student engagement. Furthermore, role-playing allows students to tap into their strengths, helping them consider problems from multiple angles before coming up with novel solutions.
Teachers often strive to provide their students with answers they know will work, yet students’ learning trajectories affect how they interpret new information and experiences (Beghetto 2020).
Therefore, students must be given ample opportunities to develop creative insights, ideas, and interpretations about a subject. At an individual level, this allows students to go beyond reproductive and reinforcement learning to explore novel and potentially surprising concepts, ideas, and interpretations (Beghetto & Schuh, in press). At its core, creative learning involves contributing to the education and lives of individuals within schools and classrooms as well as beyond (for instance, a student’s solution for alleviating social isolation in the lunchroom). Such contributions represent positive education; they enable students to build resilience as they persevere through productive struggle.