Learning Through Play
- Grades: 1–2, 3–5
- Unit Plan:
- Play board game with small group.
- Share discoveries from board game with class.
- Play with puppets.
- Create stories with puppets.
- Hawks and Rabbits (PDF) from Science Quick and Easy Learning Games: Grades 1-3 by Maria Guevarra-Chang
- Raptors and prey puppets
Set Up and Prepare
- Purchase or make raptor and prey puppets. Set up area for puppet play.
- Make copies of game board and directions.
- Cut out game boards and piece together.
- Get out dice. Use one die per game board, instead of spinner.
- Get out plastic discs or paper squares for food tokens. Each group will need a small stack of tokens.
- Divide students into groups of three or four.
Part I: Rabbits and Hawks
Step 1: Go over the directions for Hawks and Rabbits (PDF) with the class and answer questions.
Step 2: Assign groups to areas in classroom and pass out materials.
Step 3: Students play game and teacher assists as needed.
Step 4: After about 20 minutes, stop the game.
Step 5: Small groups share results and discuss process.
Part II: Puppet Play
Make puppet area available to students. Observe the stories students create. Encourage students to help one another and make suggestions as needed. Open-ended, playful activities can lead to meaningful learning.
Supporting All Learners
Less fluent readers and writers are successful at puppet play, because they can tell a fact-filled story without having to read or write. When coupled with praise from their teacher and recognition from their classmates, this activity bolsters their self-esteem.
Making Up Games:
If a student is interested in making his own raptors game, before he starts talk with him about board games, directions, and scientific accuracy. Help him as he designs his game. When he is finished and has played the game with you, share it with a small group or another grade/class.
Family Game Night: Playing board games brings different ages together in a fun, light-hearted way, makes family members talk and listen, and strengthens the family bond. Encourage families to have a regular time for playing board games.
Students play a board game with a small group. They play with predator and prey puppets and act out stories.
When evaluating this lesson, think more about process than product, both for your students and yourself. Ask yourself these questions:
- stay in the background?
- observe carefully while I was on the edge of the action?
- encourage students to rely on one another?
- help students sum up what they learned?
- learn something new about my students as individuals and a group?
- gain understanding about students’ personalities, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses?
Finally ask yourself: What would I do differently next time?
Here’s what I’m looking for:
- work cooperatively?
- share materials?
- follow the rules of the game?
- learn something new about predator – prey relationship?
- have fun?
- create stories with puppets?
- put on a puppet play for a small group or class?