Co-Creation and Play: The Power of Play in the Classroom
Updated: May 26
One of our values at ecl is, co-creation and play. Co-creation and play are essential elements in working with children, yet they are often times overlooked by adults. ecl recognises the significance of these practices and encourages its practitioners to become proficient in their use. ecl also emphasises the importance of blending these practices within their own approach, resulting in a unique and authentic experience that is suitable for their specific context. The ultimate goal is to encourage this approach within the education system and provide children with the opportunity to experience it firsthand. Co-creation and play have a number of benefits that include engaging the whole child, encouraging motivation and stimulating thinking in and among children. All of these together promote a multifaceted approach to learning in the classroom. What is more exciting is that, ecl has tools that can be used by teachers in the classroom to introduce co-creation and play.
What is co-creation and play & what does it look like?:
Simply put, co-creation and play involve children being part of the design of their own "playful" games that help them learn according to their own creative desires - either individually or as a group. Children, with the guidance of teachers, explore topics in innovative ways and through fun activities. This can include, storytelling, puzzles, painting or anything that stimulates creativity in general.
Benefits of co-creation and play:
By participating in co-creation and play, children have an opportunity to become actively engaged in the learning process. This means that by introducing co-creation and play in the classroom, children are more inclined to partake in these activities because they will be involved in the creative design process.
In addition, children become more motivated. By being involved in the aforementioned process, children are more likely to feel positive and optimistic about learning what the teacher is trying to communicate during the lesson. For instance, if a teacher decides to do a co-creative lesson on maths and instructs the class to create individual visual patterns, there is a higher possibility that the children would feel more motivated to learn about that specific maths topic.
Furthermore, children are stimulated to think more critically and develop advanced skills.
When children are engaged in a lesson that involves co-creation and/or play, they become analytical and critical of their own creative designs, learning objectives, processes and outcomes. In other words, the activities in which they engage have the potential to, challenge their existing knowledge, introduce new knowledge and create an opportunity for children to think independently.
Looking back at my years in high school, I can say that I felt that something was missing in my learning process. I was not active in designing my own unique spin on learning and never quite knew how to establish any creative, much less co-creative, learning techniques to study.
Tools to introduce co-creation and play in the classroom:
ecl has a few tools that embody the underlying principles of co-creation and play. The following two can be molded by an educator to form part of creative learning within a certain context.
Tool 1: Group Mobile
The Group Mobile invites teachers and students to explore their interconnectedness and their sense of belonging to the class group. As each person creates and attaches a personal representation of themselves that captures their sense of identity and self-expression, the mobile takes shape as a dynamic, visible representation of the entire class as a human system. It provides a focus for understanding and resolving conflicts and challenges within the group, as well as for celebrating moments of common achievement and harmony.
Although the essence of the Group Mobile is focused on belonging, the process of constructing the mobile itself can be a playful and collaborative activity. The teacher can involve the entire class in designing and building the mobile together, encouraging teamwork, creativity, and problem-solving.
Tool 2: Systemic Pizza:
Having identified and refined our Breakthrough Question, we can use a tool playfully called the ‘Systemic Pizza’ to explore and understand the issues that lie behind it. Issues always exist in relation to their context. This is a simple mapping tool that enables us to see the bigger picture.
Based on the insights gained from the "Systemic Pizza" activity, guide students in further exploration and investigation of the issues related to their Breakthrough Questions. This can involve research, discussions, group projects, or creative presentations.
"Life in school should be based on daily routines that take into account the students' rhythms as children, their natural desire from movement and for physical awareness, for breaks, for the opportunity to withdraw into quieter states of consciousness, and for changes in activity."
-You're One of Us by Marianne Franke-Gricksch