Play and Culture - Session 9

Roots: Parents, communities, and governments that work for and support human rights for children provide opportunities for children to play and learn about their culture and their family's religion (CRC Articles 30-31).

Rights: Children have the right to

  • play and recreation;
  • cultural expression;
  • learn about and practice their religion.

    Responsibilities: Children are responsible for

  • engaging in play and leisure time activities;
  • being tolerant of culturally different recreational and religious activities;
  • respecting others' rights and space.

    Session Outcomes


    • recognize the right of every child to have opportunity to play;
    • practice respecting this right while playing together;
    • share games associated with their own culture and learn new games from others.
  • Parents
    • understand the value of play for a child's development and learn new play activity ideas to use at home;
    • understand the value of sharing their cultural and spiritual values and customs with their children;
    • enhance family empowerment and encourage commitment to the Convention by encouraging families to play;
    • foster a spirit of tolerance and curiosity about other's games and religious practices;
    • provide a venue for learning from each other.

    Materials needed:

    Interactive Activities
    • Bubble solution, bubble wands, and devices for making bubbles.
    • A large variety of dress up paraphernalia, including hats, clothing, gloves, shoes, and so on.
    • One or two large sets of blocks. This may include Lincoln Logs, DUPLOS, Unit Blocks, or others.
    • Flannel board story kits or pieces for children to create their own stories and a large flannel board.
    • Janet's Playdough Recipe, the ingredients for Playdough, an electric fry pan, wooden spoon, measuring cups, measuring spoons and sandwich-size zip-lock bags. See Session 2 for playdough recipe.
    Children's Learning Circle
    • Two puppets.
    Parent Education
    • Parent Education Handout PE #9;
    • Table toys such as jacks, cushball, deck of cards, tops, yo yos, gyroscope, etc.;
    • Flip chart and markers;
    • Pencils or pens.


    Greet as usual. Make sure everyone gets a name tag.

    Parent/Child Interactive Activities


    Provides opportunity for individual and cooperative play.

    • Fill the sensory table with bubble solution. Provide wands and cups for participants to use in making bubbles. (The cue card is in Appendix B with Session #1, p. 103.)

    Provides for imagination and day dreaming; incorporates past experiences to create new scenarios.

    • Children use a variety of hats, clothing, silk scarves, shoes, and props to create a temporary new self-image. They can pretend to be anyone they choose. Provide ethnically diverse clothing if possible.

    Provides opportunities for small muscle development and coordination.

    • Place a variety of tops on a table top for children to twirl. You may tape sections of the table to define spaces. One way to confine the tops is to tape bulletin board edging around outside of table as a guard.

    Provides an opportunity to practice language skills and create with imagination through shared stories.

    • Children and parents will create stories using various flannel cutouts with their parents to illustrate the story they are making through imagination.

    Symbolizes the creative energies of learning.

    • Parents and children cooperatively experiment with the medium of play dough and produce varied sculptures. (The recipe and cue card are in Session 2.)
      • Dancing With the Indians, by Angela Shelf Medearis
      • Piggies, by Audrey Wood
      • The Keeping Quilt, by Patricia Polacco
      • Mirandy and Brother Wind, by Patricia C. McKissack
      • The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
      • Latkes and Applesauce, by Fran Manuskin
      • Miss Mary Mack, by Joanna Cole

  • Sauce Pan Game, by Jan Omerod

    Community Circle

    • 1. Transition: Early childhood teacher speaks to each child, and/or touches them on the shoulder and reminds them that circle time will begin soon. After connecting with each child, the teacher begins a gathering song.
    • 2. Preparation: "Today we are learning that children have the right to enjoy their own culture and practice their own religion and language. Children also have the right to play. Children are responsible for allowing others to play, not destroying equipment, following rules, and being tolerant of culturally different recreational activities.
    • "We are able to exercise this right when we enjoy our cultural celebrations. Who can name a celebration that you enjoy: (possible answers might be, birthdays, weddings, Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July, Christmas, Hannukah, Memorial Day, Children's Day, Kwanza, New Year's, etc.) It is our responsibility to make sure others can practice their celebrations and rituals, too."
    • 3. Share games: Parents share games they have prepared or the teacher may share one of his or her own culture's games. Play the game if it is short. Many games can be found in Wee Sing and Play: Musical Games and Rhymes for Children by Pamela Conn Beall and Susan Hagen Nipp, 1981.
    • 4. Sing: "The Hokey Pokey," or "Ring Around the Rosie" (for toddlers).
    • 5. Share mementos: Parents share mementos of their religion or home or family culture.
    • 6. Sing your regular closing song or, "This Little Light of Mine."

    separate learning time

    Children's Learning Circle Session 9

    Preparation: Bring two puppets, and have a skit prepared that you can do with them. You can use the one below, or choose a skit that is relevant to your community and its population. You may want to use a problem that has occurred between children in your setting.

    • 1. Invite the children to the circle with the gathering song.
    • 2. "As you learned in Community Circle, you all have the right to play and enjoy your cultural life. . . . Well, I have two friends, here (introduce puppets) who don't always respect other's rights to play. Would you like to see what happened the other day with our friends, Jan and Sam (puppets' names)?"

    Example skit:

    Puppet 1: Hi everybody, my name is Jan.

    Puppet 2: Hi, everybody! I'm Sam, and I'm building a bridge. (Puppet is working with blocks.)

    Jan: Hey, Sam, I need those blocks for the airport I'm building. (Jan takes some blocks.)

    Sam: Hey! Don't do that! You're taking away my right to play!

    (Puppets tussle over a block.)

    • 3. Discussion:

  • What do you think Jan could have done differently?
  • Has anyone ever interfered with your play?
    • 4. "Who would like to be our puppets and do a different ending to the story?" Choose children to act out the play again with the puppets, but coach them in some respectful ways to play together to share, take turns, or use other solutions they think of themselves.
    • 5. "I know you all can act very respectfully and responsibly toward each other. In fact, I've seen ________________________ (site examples of children acting responsibly during the class time). Thank you all for observing the rights of children."
    • 6. Invite children to suggest their favorite songs. Sing a few. 7. Conclude the circle with the songs suggested below or some of the children's favorites: "Ring Around the Rosie," "The Hokey Pokey," "Sharing Song," "The More We Get Together."
    • Note: An optional, playful activity is to have children act out poems. The following books contain numerous songs, fingerplays, and poems.
      • Arroz Con Leche: Popular Songs & Rhymes from Latin America, by Lulu Delacre
      • Clap Your Hands Finger Rhymes, by Sarah Hayes & Toni Goffe
      • Music in Motion (Signing in Sign Language), by Michael David Wojcio
      • Dancing and Singing Games, by Pie Corbett and Sally Emerson
      • Helping Out, by George Arcona
      • Margaret and Margarita, Lynn Reiser
  • Parent Education Session 9

  • Preparation: Write the topic title, "Right to Play, Culture, and Religion," on chart paper or on chalkboard.
    • 1. Action Steps and Journaling Report: Ask parents to share action steps or journal
    • "entries.
    • 2. Introduction: On flip chart write the following statement: "Keeping in mind you are your child's first, most important, and most continuous teacher; what is your goal in teaching your child about play?" Ask each parent to give their response to this question.
    • 3. Information about play:
    • * Children's play is exploration of materials, exploration of a new process, and manipulation of the world around them. Allowing children the freedom to explore their world gives them time and opportunity to get to know about materials before we impose the rules necessary for conformity to society.
    • * Adults can direct children's play in very simple ways: a small suggestion or comment, adding a new prop to dramatic play, one word or reminder of a rule, and so on.
    • * Adults shouldn't intrude on child's play unless they are invited. Certain toys are meant to be shared. When adults observe the play and involve themselves in a logical way, allowing for their child's direction, the child can feel valued and validated.
    • * It's wonderful when the adult can bring the child along and encourage the child to join in their recreation. Today, we call this family recreation. Things like biking, card or board games, camping, and kick ball are activities in which children love to be involved.
    • 4. Discussion:
    • Distribute Development of Play, (Handout PE #9). Discuss the star illustration as an integrated whole. One needs to play in all five areas to become a well-rounded person.
    • 5. Small Group Activity:

    Divide parents into five small groups. Each group is assigned an aspect of learning through play:

    • Group 1 - Physical
    • Group 2 - Emotional/Feeling Awareness
    • Group 3 - Creativity/Imagination
    • Group 4 - Social Relationships
    • Group 5 - Moral/Political Sense

  • Ask parents in small groups to brainstorm activities that would enhance learning in each of these areas. Give the groups ten minutes. Record their ideas on chart paper
    • 6. Play Activity:

  • Break into pairs and ask one person to pick a toy from your collection on the table and engage the partner in play, using the toy. Spend about five minutes in play.


  • 1. How did this experience feel to you? (Were you having fun? Wasting time? Feeling confused or anxious?)

    2. What is your favorite play experience from your childhood?

    3. Was there a game or games you remember doing and loving?

    4. What did those games teach you?

    5. What do you play with today?

    6. How do we affect our child's play?

    7. How do we, as parents, choose to become involved with our child's play?

    8. What benefit does our child get from our involvement in their play?

    9. What do you do for recreation?

    10. How much time each week, each month, is spent on recreation? (There are many different ways to spend recreation time.)

    11. How do you share your own recreational activities with your children?

    6. Closing: Bring the discussion to a close using some of these points.
    "Many things we work with may be called 'play.' For instance, how many of you 'surf the Internet?' Is exploring new territory on your job a form of play? What about going out to eat? Jogging? Going to the health club? Meeting someone for coffee? Playing cards or a social game? You like to have your time to play honored. Today we learned how important it is to honor our children's play!"

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