The Baffling Thing About Play.


Play is a funny thing sometimes in that it doesn't always look like play.  Sometimes it looks like a mess. I have to admit, I've been fooled many times. Rarely is a mess, a mess in the toddler room.  It's usually more accurately, play residue, or a play in progress. 

 I know lots of toddlers who love nothing more than dumping out a basket of items just for the sake of dumping.  To see what happens, maybe, or to hear what happens?  Such was the case a few days ago when I was cleaning up the room and re-setting it while the toddlers were sleeping.  I came across a lot of dumped baskets.  One was all of the wooden train tracks and one was a basket of small blocks.  

In our center we never seem to have quite enough storage space.  We have a bank of cupboards some with doors and some without.  Some of the cupboards are accessible to the toddlers but if we push the baskets to the back of the shelf they usually can't reach them.  So I was a bit surprised when I found all the dumped out baskets.  I cleaned everything up and pushed the baskets to the back of the shelf again.

I was even more surprised when my co-worker said she  picked up all the same items at the end of the day.  Hmmmm, now I am intrigued.  The next day I looked a little closer.  Sure enough, I witnessed a play happening.  At first I wasn't sure what was going on.  We do have an interest in construction at the moment so we have some tools and pieces of wood available.  We also, almost always have wood pieces in various shapes and sizes for the children to use as loose parts.  I wondered if the play was construction themed.  As I continued to observe I realized it was something else.

A small child was working here, in quite a methodical manner.  Placing wood and adding more.  Searching in the room for more pieces and adding them as well.

Our little friend was loading his wood stove.  My co-worker thought that he might like some red and orange fabric to use as "fire".  He told her though, "I'm not ready for fire, I need more firewood."  And later he said to her, "I want to make this room warm."

Needless to say, I have not been cleaning this up.  It's important play and work.

I brought in a long piece of yellow ribbon on Monday, wondering how the toddlers might use it.  I had no agenda, I just wondered if it was something interesting for them to use.

It didn't take this one long to find a use for it.  He added it into his wood stove as paper.  "I need a lot of paper to start my fire".  He rolled it between his hands and then he blew on it.

Children make sense of their world through play.

He's been warming up our room for many days now. 

Albert Einstein

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