Adding Play To Your Curriculum

This blog will give you three reasons why “play” should be added into your curriculum:


  1. Play promotes essential skills that make us feel alive and allow us to have great lives.

  2. Remembering boring stuff is like trying to forget awesome stuff.

  3. Students who capture themselves playing and then viewing it, increases self-esteem



When “play” is integrated into the school curriculum, students learn in a completely different way than from sitting at their desks memorizing facts.  How do we change the system?  I have a few ideas but more importantly, we all need to share our ideas because it will take a lot of us to figure out how to do it and then be brave enough to actually do it.  Here is why it is ok to play, and also why we need to ban together to integrate it into the school curriculum.



On the websiteDirt is Good  , it says that “Leading experts have noted that the time that children have for exploratory, hands-on play – the kind where they go out and get dirty – is worryingly on the decline, and that as a result today’s children risk losing out on learning essential skills that will set them up for the future.”  Ken Robinson talks about how “Play” stretches our imagination, develops social skills and empathy.  Why is it that we teachers are scared to have someone catch us while our students are playing?  Perhaps we should change this perception in order to tweak the curriculum.  Dr. Stuart Brown says, “Play is necessary for well being, for health, for optimism, for innovation and for exploring the possible.”  This is what makes us feel alive.  We need to have good discussions about this and how to incorporate play while addressing the Standards. We have to find ways to insert play into our curriculum. I know we can do it.  Here are a few suggestions:



  1. Play and write about it.  

  2. Play games and tie in math standards.

  3. Invent games and discuss strategy.

  4. Have students play and ask them what parts of their body were being used and discuss anatomy.

  5. Bring in sand and have students of all ages build things out of sand related to lessons being taught.




Students who are not playing are most likely bored.  You can not be bored when you are playing.  It is also important to note, that boredom  has some nasty side effects, such as overeating. Boredom can even make you angry, upset, or depressed.  We need to make sure that our curriculum isn’t boring because no one wants their students to feel that way.



Play can take many forms.  It can be physical when using your motor skills, constructive when building things and imaginative while thinking abstractly.  Albert Einstein said Imagination is everything. It is the preview for life’s coming attractions.

One way we can help students develop their imagination and creativity is through reading.


We have to have discussions on how to implement play into our curriculum. “Just as eating against one’s will is injurious to the health, so study without a liking for it spoils the memory, and it retains nothing it takes in.”Leonardo Da Vinci

If something is boring, students will not be able to create memory.  This gives us another reason to have fun!  I am not saying that we need to be on stage all day and make everything fun. I am saying the exact opposite.  How do we keep students entertained all day?  We don’t. We let them entertain themselves and we are the facilitators.  Here are a few physical, constructive and imaginative forms of play that we need to incorporate into our daily curriculum:



  1. A lot of students LOVE reading.  Ken Robinson tweeted an interview between Art Garfunkel and Tavis Smiley.  Look what happens to Art Garfunkel when he is reading. It is a great interview but if you don’t have time to watch it all, start at 12:20.  Just because the students are quiet doesn’t mean they are bored.  Reading gives students the opportunity to play with their imagination and to play with others from different times and spaces.

  2. More group activities.

  3. Incorporate outdoor lessons.

  4. Have them build things.

  5. Allow them to discuss and talk about topics.

  6. Let them sit where they want and move around but with certain rules that THEY make.

  7. Give them a choice to act out the lesson.


Capturing Play

CrossBraining embraces play while realizing that teachers need to teach skills that students can use to better their lives.  Many teachers feel that their plates are already full and there isn’t enough time in the day to let their students play. That is why I suggest that you add a little dash of play to your curriculum here and there.  As mentioned above, play involves imagination, creativity, decision making and communication. A great way to strengthen play and its benefits is through the use of video.



Let your students play around while recording each other.  Then encourage your students to capture some of their favorite lessons that involve some sort of play; physical, imaginative, constructive. Have the students make a 45 second video about something they learned and how they learned it.  Once the class feels comfortable recording and editing their video, use some of our free templates on our website to help guide your students through the CrossBraining Method.  Dr. John Bisaga, a child psychologist, confirms that when children see themselves on television, it increases their self-esteem.



With all the changes going on in education today the one we need to keep a very close eye on is PLAY.  We should make it an important part of the curriculum.  If someone says, “Those kids look like they are playing all day,” feel good about yourself, because that comment is often said in a negative way.  Press On!