Should We Play in High School? Participating in Global School Play Day #GSPD2017

Wednesday, February 1, 20174:56 PM

Today, February 1, was the annual Global School Play Day, with over 275,000 students participating around the world. And this year, my 20 tenth grade students were among them. We had a great time playing and talking about the value of play.

Global School Play Day started in 2015 with 65,000 students. The numbers have jumped impressively last year, growing to 177,000 students celebrating play. Their website asks educators to “Light the fire so others will catch the vision of returning the gift of unstructured play,” calling for a day of unstructured play without screens.

The #GSPD2017 website shares these wise words from Plato about the value of play. 

Before class, I spread out a series of games around the room: Checkers, Chess, Scrabble, Pictionary, Play Dough, and more. I introduced the students to the concept of #GSPD2017 and let them go. We put our cell phones down, chose games, and played. I also asked students to think about the value of play in schools, especially in high school.

I took some quick pictures and then I put my screens away, too. My cell phone went in my desk, and I played Scrabble with my students. And I did not win.

What’s the value of play in high school?

In the last five minutes of class, I passed out note cards and asked students to reflect on the value of play. Here are some of their responses:

  • Play allows for more social interactions between classmates. It can help with team work skills.
  • Play time is valuable because it shows us how to be creative and to use our brains in a different way.
  • Play keeps your life balanced.
  • Play gives us a chance to relax and give our brains a break.
  • Play is valuable in school because it teaches you to think creatively and in a different. setting than just your classroom. It can let you express yourself and have fun in a healthy, competitive manner.
  • Play is valuable because it makes the brain think and provides a sense of innovation and creativity.

For more about play in my classes, check out Everything I Know I Learned from the #MarshmallowChallenge and Ending the School Year with #BreakoutEDU.

I love these responses and reflections on creativity, socialization, and collaboration. I’ve tried to value play a lot this year and have had success with challenges like #BreakoutEDU and the #MarshmallowChallenge, but would love to see play become a more consistent fixture in my class and school--even (and especially) for high schoolers.

What role does play have in your classroom? Why is play valuable for students? Have you participated in #GSPD? Share your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter @MrSchoenbart.

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