March Invitation to Play: Playing With Google Apps

The March Invitation to Play is all about playing with Google Apps together!

The conversation surrounding this invitation will be taking place during #InnovatingPlay #SlowFlipChat starting the week of March 4th. As an extension of my chat responses, I thought I would share some more detail in this post on the process of my thinking as I approach this invitation to play alongside you!

Here is an insiders look into my teacher brain as I consider the ways in which Google Apps can be used to support executive functioning skills through play.

Like many teachers, I often keep ideas stored in the back of my mind. I hold onto things while making careful observations about the children in the classroom, and their academic, social, and emotional needs. I try to make sure that presented opportunities are meaningful, and have connection to where the children are in their experience. For quite awhile now, I have had this article tucked in my tool belt, waiting for the opportunity to address what is covered here.

In article The Batman Effect: What My Research Shows About Pretend Play and Executive Functioning, the author addresses ways in which pretending supports children in completing tough or frustrating tasks. When I first read the article, I thought about the ways in which I could use this knowledge in the classroom. Of course, it comes naturally through free play experiences, but I began to wonder if I could make the experience more concrete? I began thinking about how I could connect it to learning objectives, and elevate their learning and emotional development through play, by allowing them to SEE and FEEL this experience in a concrete way.

Here are some of my thoughts as I considered ways in which Google Apps can be used to integrate this learning experience in authentic and meaningful ways:

Needs of Children

Learning Objectives

Activity Choice

Word Collage in Google Drawing : A Play and Pretend Experience


Assorted Dress up clothes


Google Apps for Littles By Christine Pinto & Alice Keeler (page 28)

Whole or small group lesson prior to activity:

I began by placing dress up clothes in a box, and revealing one costume at a time to children. As I pulled out each costume, I invited a child come up to try it on. As the child began to tap into the expressions and emotions associated with the costume, we created a thinking map of feeling words associated with it. For example I would ask, "What do you think a firefighter feels like when s/he is ready to fight a fire?" The child modeled the actions, expressions, and feelings associated with that character. We continued with the activity, modeling and allowing children to experience the process of associating words and emotions.

Feelings Thinking Map in Google Slides

Pretend Play Feelings and Expressions

Center Activity

I first modeled the activity of creating the collage in Google Drawings, using hands-on icon cards to support children in pacing through the process. This allows ownership to stay on the children as they navigate through their experience independently on the Chromebook. If they need to reference the next step or find an icon, I can simply show them the card, and they are back on task.

Google Icon Cards

Once they were ready for independent work, students chose a costume to wear, and took a picture of themselves to add to Google Drawings (see book details...we loved the AWESOME Alice Keeler Webcam Screenshot extension shared in the book!) . Using the thinking map resource and word art, they added feeling words to their photo to show how they feel when pretending to be that character.

Princess Feeling Words

Firefighter Feeling Words

Play-Based Extensions:

  • Print out completed word collage photos and place them in a class book or hang them in the pretend play area.

  • Encourage children to refer to them as they play to develop oral language.

  • Leave Chromebooks available near the pretend play area for children to transfer knowledge and capture feelings through play.

  • Utilize collages as a resource for children when they need help identifying feelings, or tapping into a feeling that is difficult.


After experiencing this activity, the children were THRILLED to visit the pretend play area to explore further! They quickly embraced the role of each character, taking on the feelings and actions associated with each. I took careful note of their oral language. I listened for the ways in which the concrete experience of seeing, recognizing, and exploring feelings through the hands-on experience in conjunction with the Google Drawings activity had empowered and enriched their learning and play.

Many children CHOSE to do this activity during playtime - extending and transferring their learning as they flowed right from the activity into their dramatic play experience.

Please join the #Innovating Play #SlowFlipChat beginning March 4th, and connect with us on Twitter as we journey through Innovating Play with Google Apps! Remember to share the PROCESS of your experience through our chat, and using the #InnovatingPlay and #gafe4littles hashtags!

#GoogleDrawings #innovatingplay #empathy #pretendplay




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