Expert Instruction Podcast
Early Childhood
Social Skills
Nov 15, 2022

Ep. 24: The Benefits of Play

In this episode, learn how unstructured free times like recess help students practice the social, emotional, behavioral, and academic skills we want them to master.

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This month’s Teach by Design article introduced the continuum of play and how to embed play-based learning in your classrooms. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at one specific type of play on the continuum: Free Play.

Free play might sound super childish, but the benefits are many! Free play is simply the dedicated, unstructured time in the day where your students get to move and explore without any adult interference. I mean, isn't that the kind of time we all LIVE for during our work day? Your students do, too. Times like recess are some of their favorite times, and yet there never seems to be enough minutes in the day for it. So, what if we made the time? What are the benefits? How would that work logistically with the bell schedule? Most of this relates to early childhood and elementary school, but what could it look like in middle and high school?

In this episode, we’re talking about it all with Dr. Michelle Bauml and Nellie Huggins.

Michelle is a Professor of Education and an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at Texas Christian University (TCU). Sheis also a Play Consultant as part of the Let’s Inspire Innovation ‘N Kids(Liink) Project’s Research Team. The Liink Project is an organization dedicated to increasing student access to unstructured, outdoor recess time as a way of improving social, emotional, behavioral, and academic achievement in schools.

Nellie is a veteran in the field of early childhood education and an advocate for young children and their families. She has spent the last 22 years working in every early childhood setting and role possible –from infant care to preschool teacher, to preschool owner and director. Currently, she’s the Parent Outreach Coordinator for Early Childhood CARES at the University of Oregon – an organization providing early intervention and early childhood special education to infants, toddlers, and preschool age children in Lane County.

For more information on the resources shared in this episode, check out these links.

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Megan Cave


Megan Cave

Megan Cave is a member of the PBISApps Marketing and Communication team. She is the writer behind the user manuals, scripted video tutorials, and news articles for PBISApps. She also writes a monthly article for Teach by Design and contributes to its accompanying Expert Instruction podcast episode. Megan has completed four half marathons – three of which happened unintentionally – and in all likelihood, will run another in the future.

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