PLAY: It’s Not Just for Kids

By Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, September 12, 2006

Grade Level

  • Middle School

Category

  • Architecture

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts

Lesson Time

One or two fifty-minute class periods

Introduction

Play is an important part of life. Yet, as people grow up, they tend to think that play is just for "kids." In this lesson, students are asked to design a space where teenagers can play. They will listen to a National Public Radio audio transcript that features the Strong National Museum of Play, which is a giant laboratory for exploring the role of play in society.

National Standards

Writing
Standard 1. Level IV.  Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process 1. Prewriting: Uses a variety of prewriting strategies (e.g., develops a focus, plans a sequence of ideas, uses structured overviews, uses speed writing, creates diagrams) 5. Uses strategies to address writing to different audiences (e.g., includes explanations and definitions according to the audience's background, age, or knowledge of the topic, adjusts formality of style, considers interests of potential readers)
Reading
Standard 7. Level IV. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts 1. Uses reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of informational texts (e.g., textbooks, biographical sketches, letters, diaries, directions, procedures, magazines, essays, primary source historical documents, editorials, news stories, periodicals, catalogs, job-related materials, schedules, speeches, memoranda, public documents, maps) Standard 4. Level IV. Gathers and uses information for research purposes 2. Uses a variety of print and electronic sources to gather information for research topics (e.g., news sources such as magazines, radio, television, newspapers; government publications; microfiche; telephone information services; databases; field studies; speeches; technical documents; periodicals; Internet) 
Listening & Speaking
Standard 8. Level IV. Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes 3. Uses a variety of strategies to enhance listening comprehension (e.g., focuses attention on message, monitors message for clarity and understanding, asks relevant questions, provides verbal and nonverbal feedback, notes cues such as change of pace or particular words that indicate a new point is about to be made; uses abbreviation system to record information quickly; selects and organizes essential information) 4. Adjusts message wording and delivery to particular audiences and for particular purposes (e.g., to defend a position, to entertain, to inform, to persuade) 5. Makes formal presentations to the class (e.g., includes definitions for clarity; supports main ideas using anecdotes, examples, statistics, analogies, and other evidence; uses visual aids or technology, such as transparencies, slides, electronic media; cites information sources) 8. Responds to questions and feedback about own presentations (e.g., clarifies and defends ideas, expands on a topic, uses logical arguments, modifies organization, evaluates effectiveness, sets goals for future presentations)
Working With Others

Objectives

Students will do the following:
  • listen to an audio broadcast to acquire information
  • write responses to journal prompts
  • identify the components of playful activity
  • analyze and evaluate information
  • design a play space
  • evaluate group work
  • create a presentation highlighting what they have learned

Resources

  • "My Space to Play" handout
  • Internet websites

Materials

  • computer with Internet access

Procedures

Building Background Playful Thoughts

The purpose of this activity is to provide students with an opportunity to explore the components of play. 1. As a class, listen to the following NPR audio broadcast that describes a museum designed for play: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5559584 2. Ask your students to respond in writing journals to the following prompt:
  • When you were a child, your days were filled with play. Describe a memory you have of this time in your life.
Ask for volunteers to share their thoughts. 3. Brainstorm a list of ideas that define play. Post the list so students may use it as a reference while they complete the lesson activities.

Steps for Learning Designed for Play

The purpose of this activity is to provide students with an opportunity to use the steps of the design process to create a place for teens to play. 1. Divide the class into small groups. Give each group a copy of the "My Space to Play" handout. 2. Provide the class with the following information resources that they may choose to use as they develop their ideas.
  • "Teens Forge Forward with the Internet and Other New Technologies"
http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/109/press_release.asp
  • "A Place to Call Their Own"
http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=79&aid=104246
  • Six Flags
http://www.sixflags.com/
  • CD Baby
http://www.cdbaby.com/ 3. Provide time for each small group to present its work to the class. 4. Discuss the different elements of each group presentation, and how each group provided a place for teens to play.

Assessment

Reflection

Create a class rubric with your students that will help them understand the effectiveness of their design process. Use the following guidelines to help create the rubric. -How effective was your brainstorming in generating ideas? Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate how effectively you analyzed the information you used to identify your problem. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate the effectiveness of your solution. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate how clearly you communicated the problem you wanted to solve. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate how clearly you communicated your solution. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate your effectiveness as problem solvers. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor -Rate your creativity. Excellent             Good            Adequate            Poor

Enrichment Extension Activities

High Tech, Low Tech
1. Tell your students to work in their small groups to complete one of the following:
  •  Choice 1: If the play space you designed has no electronic or technology-based components, rework your design to include them.
  • Choice 2: If the play space you designed has electronic or technology-based components, rework your design to remove them.
Have the groups create a graphic organizer comparing their initial design with the modified one. 2. Lead a class discussion comparing how one plays when technology is available versus how one plays when technology is not available.

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