I first heard about GSPD on Twitter, where I found numerous posts with #GSPD15 at the bottom. After finally following the link (see what I did there?), and watching the video, I realized just how much my kids missed out on unstructured play. They needed the chance to play without my providing the material (educational...usually tied directly to a standard that I am focusing on), and the rules, guiding their play. I asked. Permission granted.
An entire day of play seemed like a bit of a challenge. We played during the afternoon, after working hard throughout the morning, going outside for recess (FINALLY...it had been SO LONG) and getting to run around in PE. Heading to the gym, the kids were SO EXCITED! They all had toys in their backpacks, waiting to be unleashed. Upon returning to the classroom, getting toys out and talking about the two rules (Rule #1: Don't get too loud. Rule #2: Don't do something that could hurt you, or someone else.), we were off! 24 five and six-year-olds in a room full of toys (some from their homes, some from mine, some from school). Chaos would surely ensue, only...it didn't.
I was amazed at how well the class played, and absolutely enjoyed watching them be a little community. They were never loud. They never ran in the classroom, or jumped chairs, or wrestled each other (things that they try to do on a daily basis). Four students approached me with small tattles at the very beginning of the afternoon, and I just told them to work it out or talk about it (I had vowed that I wouldn't step in and handle it for them...this was a skill that could be practiced on a day like today). After that...they handled it all. Play-Doh creation accidentally destroyed? Apologies and understanding. Lego building accidentally destroyed by a passer-by? Apologies, understanding, and help rebuilding. They governed themselves, for the most part, and it was glorious. Sharing. Helping others. Including others. I was so proud of my kiddos for working together as a community.
This was a cleansing of their little souls. Play time that was void of a hidden agenda (from the teacher) or an impending assessment. A chance to be a kid, and play with other kids...just for fun. A chance to be a part of someone else's game, or pretend story, or car race, or Lego architecture, or role playing, or board game, or drawing class, or Play Doh party, or...whatever. It was just awesome.
These kids could use a GSPD every week.
Things that I saw during GSPD15:
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Planning and execution
- Caring for others
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Joy...pure joy
Things that I heard during GSPD15:
- "Can I play with you?"
- "I'll help you."
- "Let's play _____!" (fill in the blank with any toy or game)
- "Did you see that?!"
- "Let's put these together to make a ______." (fill in the blank with the random name of a crazy contraption)
- "Thank you for letting us play." (a bazillion times...usually as they were moving to another toy or play area)