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Front cover of The Gift of Playful Learning: A Guide for Educators

The Gift of Playful Learning: A Guide for Educators

By Nadia Kenisha Bynoe and Angelique Thompson. Shell Education, 2023. 232 pages, $60.
Reviewed by Laurel Mouland

The Gift of Playful Learning is an inspiring professional resource for educators who want to learn more about play-based learning using a culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy (CRRP) framework. The book showcases how to offer loose parts within learning opportunities that connect to rich culturally relevant and responsive texts. I was captivated by the numerous pictures of learning opportunities offered in the book and scenarios of learners whose playful pursuits were deeply connected to learning. I was intrigued by each page and compelled to create an invitation for learning the next day in my classroom to enrich my French Immersion program.

This is an accessible resource regardless of where you fall on the continuum of play, as the authors offer ideas on how to begin and how to create an invitation for learning. The resource includes a digital platform that provides planning templates, photos, and additional ideas for program implementation indoors, outdoors, and virtually. The authors weave in stories and experiences drawn from classrooms they have supported that highlight the realities educators face daily. While the resource is geared towards pre-Kindergarten to Grade 2 programs, the explicit strategies and tools offered are applicable beyond these grades.

The Gift of Playful Learning is a great guide for instruction that facilitates curriculum and assessment. The book highlights how play can be connected to the Ontario curriculum and how engaging with loose parts strengthens learners’ literacy skills. Guiding questions are provided at the end of each chapter to support you as you reflect on and adopt a play-centric program. The book provokes readers to shift their practice and embrace new possibilities that lead to transformation. The ideas shared are inspiring and easy to try. This is a must have book for your professional library!

Laurel Mouland is a member of the Elementary Teachers of Toronto.