Learning through Play: 5 Easy Play Ideas for Your Classroom

Text: Learning Through Play: 5 Easy Play Ideas for Your Classroom  Image of boys playing with blocks.

Learning through play is important in EVERY classroom, but with so much to cover it can be really difficult to find time to play during a school day! Here are 5 Easy Play Ideas that you can use to get more playtime into your day!

This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links. If you purchase anything through these links I will recieve a small commission at no cost to you.

Learning Through Play: Morning Tubs/Afternoon Tubs

Start your day off with some play! Ease your students into their school day by letting them play! Morning Tubs can be done in a number of ways. My favorite was using my math manipulatives. I would put a different math manipulative in different spaces around the room. The students would come in and complete their “morning business” and then choose a tub to play at and socialize with their friends until our “Circle Up” song came on.

Some other morning tub ideas are puzzles, board games, playdough, legos, scrap paper with fun scissors, plastic animal toys, ect… There are so many ideas for Morning Tubs!

You could also flip this idea and end your day with some “Tub Time”. I don’t know about your students, but the afternoon was rough for mine. End your day with some playtime, the students will look forward to it and hopefully get their stuff done so that they can play! 🙂 My room was Star Wars themed, so we called this time Jedi Academy. It was a hit for sure!


I taught primary-age students for 23 years. Each year the group was different, but one thing they all had in common, whether they were Kindergarteners or 2nd graders, was that they needed to MOVE! Students only have short attention spans and can only attend for so long, so add some movement to your day to keep your kiddos engaged and learning! Some ways to add movement to your day:

  • Charades: Have your students act things out! A favorite game of ours was “Verb Charades”. The best part? This was a silent game. The person acting out would only call on calm quiet students to guess.
  • Brain Breaks! There are so many fun Brain Breaks on YouTube! My students especially loved the “This or That” brain breaks.
  • Sight Words or Spelling Words. Practice the words that your students need with movement. Spell the words doing a different motion for each type of letter. Clap for the consonants, snap for the vowels. Reach up high for the tall letters, hands on the waist for the middle letters, and touch your toes for the letters with a tail. The possibilities are endless!
  • Stand Up! When you call on a student to answer a question have them stand up to answer and sit down when they are done!
  • Vocabulary: I loved doing Word a Day (I am not affiliated with Mrs. Wordsmith in any way, I just love their Word a Day flip chart, and the students did too) in my classroom. We would read the word, discuss the picture, and come up with a movement to go with the word. Every time we used that word during the day we would all do the motion!
  • Act it Out! Students love to act things out! So, let them. You can have them act out stories, poems, or individual words. It also helps them to remember whatever it is they are acting out!

STEM/STEAM Activities

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) or STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) activities are usually a big hit! Students enjoy the hands-on, playful, social nature of these these types of activities! Plus, a challenge is always a good motivator!

Add in some playdough and you have an irresistable activity! My students always loved these super fun Playdough STEM mats! Just print, laminate, and add playdough! You could give each student their own mat, or have them share in a small group! Either way your students will be playing and learning in no time!

Learn Through Play: Pattern Blocks

I LOVE pattern blocks! They are by far my favorite classroom math manipulative! There are so many ways to use them. Your students will LOVE to discover, explore, and investigate shapes and mathematical concepts using pattern blocks.

I love pattern blocks so much, that I created a whole line of pattern block mats! I have puzzles, games, and build the picture mats for so many topics! I also have pattern block games for sight words. Just print and add pattern blocks. Of course you could laminate them as well for durability. These are perfect for morning tubs, math center, indoor recess, fast finishers. These are a perfect for learning through play.

I also have a great pattern block freebie in my Free Resource Library! Sign up for my Teachery Newsletter and get access to the Pattern Block Freebie, but also to get a free STEM Playdough Mat Freebie, a Writing Cootie Catcher Freebie and a Writing Game Freebie! So much good stuff!

Writing Games and Cootie Catchers

Text: Learning through play: Playdough, and Cootie Catchers, and Pattern Blocks, OH MY! Images of playdough STEM mat, cootie catcher writing prompts with pictures, and sight word pattern block game.

Playing with writing is always tough isn’t it? Writing can be a great way for your students to express themselves, be creative, and practice their communication skills. It can also be a lot of fun! My classroom writing center was a great place to have all of my materials for playing with writing.

Here are some ideas for ways to learn through play with writing:

  • Re-write a story or poem using your own words.
  • Use Sticker Stories!
  • Write with fun writing implements (Amazon Affiliate Link): Glitter Pens, Markers, fun crayons ect..
  • Writing Prompts with Pictures
  • Write a “Newspaper” about things going on in the classroom or a topic that you are learning about.
  • Write a Comic Strip about something that you are learning about
  • Writing Prompt Cootie Catchers
  • Writing Games
  • Make a list!
  • Make a fun Menu – create your own currency to set prices
  • Story Cubes (affiliate link)

I have several fun freebies for playing with writing in my Free Resource Library (sign up for my newsletter to get access), and I have some great materials in my Store:

Writing can be a great way to express oneself, have fun, and explore new ideas. Give it a try and see what your students come up with!

I hope you have discovered some fun ways to get more playtime into your school day! Pin the image below to share and save these fun learning through play ideas!

Text: Learning Through Play: 5 Easy Play Ideas for Your Classroom Image of boys playing with blocks.

Happy Teaching,


Share it:


You might also like...