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Initiative sees Sudbury students learn through different types of play


Students at St. David Catholic Elementary School in Sudbury were taking part in an interesting bit of learning Monday: the cardboard sled challenge.

It's part of a national project aimed at broadening play-based teaching.

Five classes went head-to-head in a battle of building and racing the cardboard sleds, and if you think advance engineering wasn’t on the mind of these kids, think again.

“We did a net design to reduce the amount of seams in it,” said Grade 5 student Dharshan Shinoj.

“We also did a small paper prototype before we started so can make sure it’s a feasible design.”

“To make it go fast, we put tape on the bottom and we coloured it with crayons so it’s waxy and slippery,” added Grade 5 student Xander Pharand.

The project is part of a larger initiative with the University of Ottawa and the Canadian Playful School Network, which sees schools from across Canada take part in these play-to-learn activities.

Around 12,000 students from six provinces are taking part. Trista Hollweck from the Canadian Playful School Network said there are different types of ‘play’ they focus on to promote different types of learning.

“So there’s green, screen, machine and everything in between,” Hollweck said.

“Those are like the four modes we’re exploring. And so what we’re starting to see in terms of preliminary findings is how a lot of this learning through play is not stuck in one mode, that we use a variety of modes.”

Grade 3-4 teacher Lynsie Royer said they’ve been able to network with other schools.

“Bot just around the province, but around Canada, as well, and we’ve been able to share ideas with each other,” Royer said.

She said this type of learning gives students a chance to deepen their understanding of how play is an important part of skills development.

“(We) were not really thinking about the integrity of the structure and when we did the races they realised, oh wow, maybe we should have spent a little more time on that,” Royer said.

“So we’ve done a lot of work of working with failure this year and that is exactly how we learn.”

The study is looking at how the education system is in a transition period, with the hope that more curriculums will incorporate the playful network model. Top Stories

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