Should Toys be in Kindergarten Classrooms?

As many of you know, I have taught kindergarten for the past three years. During the past three years, I have learned that kindergarten is in a world of its own. Many in-services and workshops are not practical for kindergarten students. Many rules and procedures hold exceptions for kindergarten students.

Classroom supply needs are also different. I recently received my state and federal funding for supplies. The bulk of kindergarten needs consists of construction paper, markers, crayons, and scissors. However, I found myself venturing down the toy aisle at Wal-Mart searching for dolls and cars.

In my room I have an area of play set-up for the children. There is a kitchen and a high chair. There is a basket of blocks, cars, and dinosaurs. During my recent purchase, I added two dolls and a doctor’s kit to my supply of play items.

As the day progressed and I began thinking about my purchases, I began to wonder how much play and toy items should be in a kindergarten classroom. I have been in about three or so different school’s kindergarten classrooms in my county. The amount of play items in each varies considerably. Some teachers have a complete section set-up while other classes appear to have virtually no play items.

Most feel that it is important for children at this age to have an opportunity for pretend play. For that reason, many kindergarten guides will suggest having a home center equipped with a kitchen. Dress-up clothes are also usually on the list. Blocks tend to be very popular at this age, too.

While kindergarten has changed drastically over the past several years and the curriculum has toughened, it is important for us not to overwhelm our students. There is a way to create a comfortable balance between play and learning. So how many toys should I have in my room? That answer I have yet to discover.

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