“Welcome to YouthBurger!” Learning through Play in the CDA Classroom

Earlier this week, the Child Development Associate Training classroom was transformed into a fast-food restaurant. YouthBurger had everything a restaurant needs to succeed: a complete menu, a drive-through, friendly customer service, dining area, and a cash register.  All of these things, however, were made of paper.

YouthBurger was the brainchild of CDA students Darren, Terrell and Tihara, who had spent the morning coming up with the idea for YouthBurger and making it a reality through creative use of craft materials. This is a great example of the CDA room in action, where students learn the theory and science of early childhood development and put it into practice through activities designed for young learners.  In the case of the YouthBurger activity, it’s an example of “dramatic play” designed to foster creative development and teach communication skills to students as they play-act the roles of customers and fast food workers.

The “practice” side of the program is typically centered around play.  “Learning through play,” in fact, is a core tenet of the CDA program.

“If they (the children) have fun, they’re more likely to remember what they learned,” explained Terren as he prepared the drive-through window.

A byproduct of believing in learning though play, of course, is that the CDA students themselves also get to learn through play and creative activities that complement their textbook reading.  Recent projects included “eggematics” (an interactive math activity involving egg cartons), and making home-made Play-Doh and slime as an example of a science/sensory lesson.

Eggematics:

Slime:

“We could just read the chapter and discuss it, but how much of that are they (CDA students) going to retain that way?” said Obioma Martin, one of the instructors. “This way they can play and have fun, and they’ll remember the activities and the concepts behind them.  It also builds teamwork,” she added, gesturing at the three students collaborating to build YouthBurger.

There are no actual young learners in the CDA classroom, but other YouthBuild staff were happy to fill in as participants, and visited the restaurant after its grand opening.  We give the restaurant – and the future educators in the CDA program – five stars!

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