Of course, I told the kids they could choose what to do. Some just played with the animals. Some sorted them. Some counted them out.
The other day I read about someone visiting in the classroom to see math in action. "I'm sorry," the teacher told her, "but we did math yesterday."
"That's okay," the visitor said. "I can see them do math today as they play." (I'm sorry but I don't remember where I read it. I'll add a link if I can find it again.)
That's why I love using play in the classroom. Math, reading, writing, science are all mixed as kids experiment and explore. I can play something to emphasize a particular skill or concept. But I must allow kids to develop their own understandings in their own ways.
Kids are learning all different subjects at once, mixing and mingling concepts as they grow in understanding. After all, isn't that the way life is?