Children shouldn’t be limited to worksheets — Mancala Game

Children shouldn’t be limited to worksheets — Mancala Game

Author: Eden Orillo

Instagram: @happykindergarden

Connections to Ontario’s FDK curriculum: Demonstrating Literacy and Mathematic Behaviours, Problem Solving and Innovating, Belonging and Contributing, and Self-regulation and Well-being.

I introduced this math manipulative game to our students during the beginning of school (September 2016) and they love it.

What does this teach children? Counting, social skills, taking turns, thinking, it challenges them, and having fun.

I believe that children shouldn’t be limited to worksheets. Worksheets are the last resource that I would recommend for educators or guardians. This is due to the fact that worksheets are limiting to children’s learning and expression. Although worksheets are a great task for children to use when they are on a road trip or airplane where it can occupy their mind and keep them busy.

However: Do they expand children’s thinking? Do children feel free when using worksheets? How much of its content do they understand?

The best thing to do is to focus on what the child is able to do. Keep in mind that every child learns different, yet we also have to understand what children are capable of and be able to learn deeply from their creative representations. This is something that we as educators, guardians, and anyone who believes in education has to recognize. One of the richest resources that we can offer which also allows children to expand their learning are loose materials (lids, empty tin cans, or dry natural things).

Why loose materials/loose parts?

Loose materials has many benefits. Loose materials enable young learners to think and be creative. It encourages them to explore with their imagination and/or interactions with their friends.

It is one of the richest and effective resources that myself and my teaching partner use daily in our classroom. It allows children to be the boss of their own learning (taking initiative). They feel such freedom that they are more willing to take on responsibilities and learn independently.

In this field of education I feel that many of us who are involved with working with children or raising our own should ask ourselves:

How much value of learning does worksheets offer to our young learners?”

If a child is given a worksheet to colour a rainbow inside the circle, what is the child learning? The child is focused on what a rainbow looks like. They may be able to practice their fine motor skills. However, if a child is given colourful pebbles, the child may represent a variety of ideas such as sorting, counting, connecting, making shapes, making rainbow shapes or creatively glue to paper to make hearts or a card. The child can use the pebbles in which ever way they feel to and from many play areas.

I strongly believe that loose materials are very significant resources to our children’s learning and we need to understand and recognize the role open-ended materials play in expanding children’s thinking, learning, and imagination.

Happy teaching. Happy learning. Happy growing.

Eden Orillo

Designated Early Childhood Educator at York region District School Board.

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Connections to Ontario’s FDK curriculum: Demonstrating Literacy and Mathematical Behaviours, Problem Solving and Innovating, Belonging and Contributing, and Self-regulation and Well-being.

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