“Will you be here tomorrow?” Words from the mamas that had brought their kiddos out to my PopUP PLAY Date at the Kingsgate Library. Well, I wouldn’t be doing another one the very next day, but it DID make me feel good to know they’d have wanted that! A couple of the Moms went to the info desk to share how much they loved the event (sadly the librarians did not show any enthusiasm: “It’s not a library program.” Hmm, maybe it SHOULD be!!)
Mr Teacher Karen is pathologically objective—trying to see all points to an issue…and he says my gift is creating learning spaces for kidlets to PLAY in not just an engaged way but in an engagingly, absorbed way. Well, without being too big-headed…he’s right! And these kiddos were the latest to show me how much young children crave being able to have access to multi-sensory activities whether they’re:
●tactile-based like sensory tubs of colored rice;
●building/creating, which typically utilizes their senses of touch as well as vision and—depending on how much experience they’ve had building and/or creating in gravity—may also use their sense of hearing, if anything comes crashing down!
Additionally, I allow them the FREEDOM to explore these activities and materials—I’m facilitating child-led PLAYING. Case in point, one bub was painting on a bubble wrap art project I’d set out. I’d provided 2 paints—one blue, one yellow so that they’d discover that blue and yellow together make green. Because I don’t like leaving a print flat I’d also put out some green ‘grass’ for them to add afterwards…either placing it on some paint OR gluing it down with a glue stick.
This bub thought it might be cool to put the grass on top of the painted bubble wrap. His Mom was trying to stop him. I’m sure she was concerned about following directions and not wanting to ruin my things (I appreciate that sentiment). BUT in terms of putting grass on the bubble wrap first…if he wanted to try it that way and see what happened I was 100% okay with it. Sometimes you need to experience a lesson firsthand before the lesson takes hold (in this situation, the grass did not come up with the print).
There was an elaborate construction of blocks—in fact every block that I brought was used in it! This architect-in-the-making created other designs…and this shows how PLAY supports cooperation…a couple other gals came over to build—they used the blocks they needed; she used the ones she needed. Voila! I enjoyed seeing the differences in their building. The Moms of one of the 2nd little girls to join in used the opportunity to talk about symmetry.
PLAY provides opportunities to expand children’s vocabularies, give context to word meanings AND introduce new concepts!
I’d explained at the beginning what the schedule was going to be and—just like I did at preschool—signaled the coming-to-a-close of free PLAY singing 5 More Minutes…which—just like in preschool—wasn’t strictly 5 minutes. When I got to “3 More Minutes…” the kiddos had definitely caught on. I had kiddos coming up to me and saying “2 minutes!” and then “1 minute!”
Clean up is quick when all hands help out! Now was it absolutely spotless, enough for me to leave the library? No, but completely fine to continue on to group time. Re-doing something a kiddo has done—in front of them—is something I’d never do. If I didn’t think they did an adequate job I’d ask them to try again, put in more effort and/or highlight what I needed done, but re-doing a chore that they’ve done undermines what I’m trying to instill in them: a feeling of competence and independence.
TIME—the bane of those really into the groove of PLAYING because you lose track of time! And so it was for us. Not long after we began group time I noticed we’d already gone past the time I’d reserved the room YIKES! I needed to wrap things up—quick—even though I wasn’t going to be able to do everything I’d planned.
And as they were packing up to go is when the questions of when the next PLAY Date were asked…I’m working on some dates now and will post any new PLAY Date days/times in Events and on Play & Grow’s Facebook page so stay tuned because #PlayMatters in #childhood!
Yours in Play!