Virtual learning & fun for early learners: Serious learning

By Children’s Librarian Shelley Harris

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.”

That’s a quote from Fred Rogers, and one that we at the library take very seriously. Every time we update our department play spaces, we consider various different kinds of research about play.

We often come back to the Reggio Emilia approach, which is child-centered and child-guided with a strong emphasis on relationships and experiences. Giving kids the ability to take charge of their world with support allows for deep learning, and there are so many ways to bring that home. And below are a few suggestions of videos to watch and activities to do together.

Watch these videos

In this video, Jenny and Ruthie watch an episode of Making Art with Christian Robinson and do their own art based on his. All of his videos are wonderful, but this one especially allows for children to express big thoughts and feelings in a safe way.

One of the earliest videos Jenny and I made was this one, called Play: The Most Important Thing. It really is the most important thing kids can do to help them work through feelings and understand the world around them.

Play & explore more

  • Seattle Children’s has a wonderful list of ideas on how to do child-led play, like narrating your child’s play, and an equally important list of things to avoid.
  • Jen Kossowan has excellent suggestions for inviting toddlers to play, especially when we’re all stuck inside more this winter.
  • Act out your child’s favorite books! Let them assign characters and add whatever creative touches they like. Or, if you’ve just read a book about a forest, pretend to be forest animals.
  • Pink Oatmeal has alphabet movement ideas that are fun but let kids pick how they want to act out each letter! 
  • If you ask your child what they want to play, what will the answer be? It may surprise you!
Shelley Harris

About Shelley

Shelley is a children’s librarian with a passion for early literacy, serving and celebrating the disability community, and exploring technology. She can often be found practicing storytime songs with her black lab, Bingo.