How Does This …..
Become This ….. ??
Same activity, same children, two very different pictures.
Today I found myself humbled by the children I was involved with in play. A conversation between myself and another educator saw us discussing a popular role play activity amongst the children, an Ice Cream shop they’d set up in the yard. I suggested, “I have a cash register in the Wattle Blossom storeroom, I’ll grab it for them.” I set up a table and placed the register on top and invited the children to commence their entry into entrepreneurship.
“We have the store, but no ice cream…” I pondered, “What can we use as ice cream?”
I ran around scavenging little containers whilst considering how to help the children with their shop. “I know!” Ducking into the Gum Nut store cupboard, Miss Kuga joked, “You’re not stealing my shaving cream!”
“Absolutely I am!” I retorted.
I ducked back to shop, filled up some containers of ice cream and we were ready to go. However, I was left a little baffled. I’d done the work, but the engagement was simply not there. One child was keeping the register to themself, the shaving foam flavoured ice cream wasn’t quite tickling their taste buds. “Well, this was a bit of a bust…” I sighed.
Suddenly, their ice cream was being spilt. “I want more,” the children requested. More ended up on the floor. “More!”
Low and behold, I was surrounded by a swarm of happy, smiling children keen to get covered in shaving foam and smearing it EVERYWHERE! It was on the posts, the swing set, the cubby house.
“Please stop, you’re going to make a mess.” These words almost slipping out of my mouth, but I resisted. And I was glad that I did. The children were learning, laughing, engaged, conversing and co-operating, and all from making a mess with shaving foam and not an elaborate storefront.
And you know what? The clean up was actually very quick, all it took was a bit of a hose down.
So where did I go wrong? Well, I thought I was doing the right thing, I listened to the interest and queries of the children and responded accordingly. I tried to make an inviting environment, however in reality it was too limiting to the imagination and creativity of children! There was minimal engagement, longevity and room to expand upon my ideas. It seems that in setting up a shop for the children I had misinterpreted where they were going with their play. They just wanted to explore all the senses that the shaving foam had to offer.
To our ‘boring’ adult eyes, sure it may just look like they’re simply making a mess but if you break it down, they are learning so much! Motor skills, communication, art, exploring their curiosities … They’re not interested in solving our next financial crisis, they’re focused on being kids! And this is what we need to encourage because if we do this now, when they’re 30, 40 or 50 they’ll have all that dull stuff sorted.
This is the value of child-lead play, of taking that step back as adults and letting them do what they do best. They will learn their way, they know themselves better than we do and as stubborn adults that is unfortunately easy to forget.
WATTLE BLOSSOM – SPRINGFIELD