There have been studies recently that show the lack of play for preschoolers and kindergartners is causing developmental delays in young children. Kids are being pushed directly from being a toddler to being a student. Kids are kids first and foremost, and removing their ability to learn through play is do detrimental to there growth. This blog is obviously not about preschool aged children, so why would I even bring that up? I honestly believe that removing “play” from middle school students is also hurting them.
Hear me out.
Do I think middle school kids should be allowed to “play and not learn” all day? Nope. But I DO think that we need to remember that middle school students are still just kids. They are 6-8 years away from being an adult… and honestly we all know that even 18 year old “adults” aren’t always that adult-like.
The whole reason this blog came to be was because I truly believed in the need to get away from worksheets. I found myself SO bored and SO irritated making answer keys for the hoards of worksheets that came along with my textbook series. Everything was black and white. There was little real life application aside from word problems and there was zero opportunity for students to explore, be creative and get up and move. I started taking the problems from those worksheets and typing them up into coloring activities. Yes, the problems were the same but those plain black and white worksheets with 30 practice problems were scaled down to include 10 problems, became self checking and allowed students to color. All of a sudden, their engagement increased, their classwork scores increased and my behavior problems decreased. Even those kids who said they were “too old” to color would find themselves wrapped up in making sure their pictures looked just right. I started creating my own worksheets with richer problems and expanded from coloring sheets to puzzles, stations and projects. My students knew their activities came from me, not a company. They knew I took the time to make things they would like, while being relevant to what they were learning.
So, why color in middle school? In case you missed it, adult coloring books are becoming a huge thing right now. I personally have this one and this one and I LOVE them both. Adult coloring books are popular for good reason. They have been shown to reduce stress, provide greater focus, allow self expression and improve motor skills. With the rigor of math standards today, students are often under increased stress, move quicker through concepts and must adhere to specific ways of doing things. Allowing them to color, even just for a few minutes a a few times a week can do wonders for their achievement, their mindset and their educational growth.
If you haven’t used coloring activities in your classroom before, I encourage you to try!
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Have a great day!