Before school, I simply set out the toys around the room. We had race cars, dinosaurs, blankets and stuffed animals, our math materials (pattern blocks, games, tangrams, etc.), art supplies, a makerspace shelf (legos, tinker toys, k’nex, origami, etc.), a few traditional board games, train tracks, gears, books, and wooden blocks.
I have a preschool friend who visits my classroom every morning. He intuitively knew what to do, sat down, and started to play. In the spirit of observation, I watched my first graders. They knew they should be getting their book boxes ready for the day. But they naturally sat down with my preschool friend with their books by their sides and tinkered with the toys. Of course I let them. I couldn't snap a picture fast enough.
It’s Wednesday, so we delayed our play until we returned from school-wide chapel.
We started in a Morning Meeting, so I could show some pictures and talk about what they would do all day long. I had to talk about it, because, well, we just don't stop and play the whole day. Ever. Even in our flexible environment. Where there is a fair amount of play. Needless to say, they were eager to get started.
Holy imaginative play with blankets. All morning. They negotiated their game. I can’t tell you what is was. Puppies, a friendly dragon, sleeping. “Pretend you are..” The story telling… They would stop mid story and renegotiate. "Now pretend the stranger is coming! Stranger Danger!" In between our "other blocks of time" (lunch, art, recess, etc.) they would return to this story and continue it on. This went on all.day.long. At first, I was feeling unsettled about this-until I read some research. (Ashiabi , 2007; Singer and Lythcott 2004) It turns out, kids who are allowed to play pretend games can be more creative, and show more readiness for learning. We talked at the end of the day how such a day of play could lead to amazing writing tomorrow. (Stay tuned...) I learned so much today. There is power in pretend play. My kids are storytellers. I knew this, but they are intricate story tellers. I hadn't embraced this about them really until today. This was my big "Ah-Ha!" moment.
How was your day of play?