Playful Literacy: Finding and Sharing Our Stories

Playful Literacy: Finding and Sharing Our Stories

Enrollment in the current section of the Playful Literacy course is closed.  We’ll be offering it again soon – keep an eye out for dates!


Welcome! I’m so glad you’ve joined us.

Educators who have attended Opal School events often tell me that they want a community of people to continue to be in dialogue with as they go back to their own settings to explore some of the ideas that we started unpacking when we were together. This course aims to be a place where that community of inquiry, research, and sharing can happen.

Visiting Opal School is not a prerequisite for this course, however, it helps to know (if you don’t already) that we believe in a social-constructivist theory of learning – for all people not just children. Throughout this course, we’ll be constructing new ideas together – which means you won’t be fed curriculum to try, lessons to implement, or a script to follow. Instead, you’ll be asked to show up with your own thinking, your own ideas and questions, as you try things out, reflect on, and share stories from your own classroom with this community of peers who are doing the same.

Although knowledge of early literacy skills is critical information for educators to have, this course is not designed to teach you about specific skills or skill development. Instead, this course will explore Playful Literacy, an approach to literacy instruction my colleagues and I have been developing at Opal School. Because Playful Literacy is based on our own research and experiences with children in our Preschool-5th-grade classrooms, it is ever changing and evolving.


Playful Literacy includes four elements, which we will explore in depth throughout the course:

Ample Use of the Arts

A Focus on Meaning Making

Sharing Stories and

Time to Play

This course will be a space where you can read stories and articles related to the elements of Playful Literacy that will provoke you to reflect upon what you are doing in your own setting. To question your own intentions. To ask yourself hard questions like: Why am I doing this? How am I choosing to spend my time? What else could I be doing? What’s working? What’s not working? Why? What’s my role? This course will also connect you with a community of thinkers and learners who are taking the risk to ask themselves similarly challenging questions.


  • An understanding of how I’ve come to define Playful Literacy, including the four elements of Playful Literacy, based on experiences I’ve had and research I’ve done alongside my colleagues at Opal School.
  • An invitation to reflect deeply on your own experiences in your own setting. Time to observe in your own setting and consider how these elements might influence what you are paying attention to, the way you plan, and how your students engage and respond.
  • A chance to experiment with these four elements of Playful Literacy in your own setting. To be provoked and take action in your own practice.
  • An opportunity to share with an online community of peers where you feel inspired and you inspire others. We’ll construct a place where you are invited and encouraged to take risks, try things out, ask questions, build theories, think through new ideas, and engage in dialogue.

For these things to happen, we first need to make some decisions about how we’d like to be together as an online community. If we were sitting in a physical classroom, meeting face to face, we would spend our first chunk of time creating those conditions together. At Opal School, we call this process “making agreements” – which we do with students every year. But since we’re not in the same room, at the same time, I’d like to instead propose a few agreements that I hope will meet your needs and help us all to navigate our interactions with one another and our time together.

Listen actively and participate fully: Show up bravely, give what you can, and assume that everyone else is doing the same and doing their best. Speak your own truth, and save space for every member to contribute.

Respect for differences: Listen with empathy, share and respond with respect, and value differences. Do not put others down because of different opinions and ideas. Challenge and question ideas, not people.

Get comfortable with uncertainty: Take risks and ask questions. Allow for vulnerability. Support each other’s vulnerability by keeping stories from classrooms within this space. If you feel like shutting down, stay aware and work to stay open and stay in inquiry, without blame or judgment of others.

If these agreements feel like they meet your needs and you can stick to them, then let’s get started! If you feel something is missing or you have other concerns, please send a note to so we can create something that works for you.


Each week on Wednesday, a new module will launch that includes an introduction to the ideas we’ll be exploring together that week, guiding questions, several new provocations to explore, and two invitations to take action and share.

Each module has a forum that will include three topics.

  • The first topic will be an invitation to respond to one of the provocations from the module that week.
  • The second topic will be an invitation to share an experience from your own setting in connection to the ideas we’re exploring throughout the module.
  • The third topic will be a space for general thoughts and questions related to the provocations within the module. In the third topic, I hope you’ll include notes about what is standing out to you, what you are wondering about, where you’re finding connections, and the places where you might experience discomfort or disagree with an idea.

These topics within the forums will be the place where we’ll work to develop this community of peers engaged in dialogue, inquiry, and sharing. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to comment and stay up to date on the ongoing conversations in the forums. In addition, I will post a video response to some of the questions in the forum each week. You can expect to see these videos posted on Monday afternoons, so if you have a burning question that you’d like me to respond to through this video format, please make sure it’s posted in the questions forum by Sunday evening.

You can expect to spend about two hours per week with these resources and invitations, with additional resources available to explore when you find the time and reason to do so. I would like to encourage you to find a rhythm that works for you and to work at your own pace.

This is the first time I’ve offered this particular online course so I really value your feedback, which will be helpful to me now and for future revisions of the course. You’ll have a chance to share your feedback through a survey at the end of the course, but your ongoing feedback is also welcome at

So again, welcome! I’d like to officially begin by offering you the first invitation to share.

INVITATION: Please take a few moments to introduce yourself in the forum here by sharing with us your name, where you are from, what age children you work with, and one hope or question that you are starting this course with.

I’m looking forward to playing, sharing stories, and making meaning together with you!

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