An early childhood teacher's role is to step back from these little cyclones and observe. What is creating conversation, peaking interest and fuelling play? Through questioning they harness ideas and play props director to-ing and fro-ing to the storage cupboard retrieving paraphernalia for their eager cast. Through such play children project themselves into adult roles, explore language, writing and numbers and initiate social interactions in a safe environment. When an idea is recognised a small nudge is all that's often needed to walk little people into a new adventure of learning. A café scenario, a shop front or a doctor's surgery and a few carefully selected props* to ignite story telling.
We use daily outings and conversations as inspiration for play. Here are some games we've enjoyed playing lately:
Hairdresser - A recent trip to the hairdresser sparked all manner of questions. I rummaged around for old brushes, combs, a spray bottle, a square of fabric and a peg for a cape, playdough scissors, telephone, paper and pens and a collection of old scrunchies and clips. Some very interesting discussions (and hairstyles) developed.
School Room - Sensing some apprehension about starting Kindy this year I set up a very basic kindergarten in our lounge room. A puzzle area, block corner, reading nook and a big chair for the teacher. Bijou used her dolls and soft toys to work through her fears about going to the toilet at Kindy, meal times and making friends. This "game" stayed up for weeks and we explored so many ideas, soothed her worries and increased her confidence and excitement.
Restaurant - Bijou loves to recreate her favourite restaurants at home. We make simple menus with paper and felt pens, set a table with cutlery and glue food images from magazines onto paper plates (you only need do this once them squirrel them away for next time), find a notebook and pen for the waitress and plenty of furry guests to serve.
Vet - We rescued a baby turkey in our backward earlier in the year. Bijou was intrigued with it's care and initiated a vet scenario. We use some stuffed animals, a few bandages, a milk bottle lid sticky taped to some string for a stethoscope, baskets for overnight cage stays, bowls for food and water, hand towels/tea towels for coverings, and an old computer keyboard and paper sticky taped to the wall for a screen.
Art Gallery - I adore how my beautiful friend managed to cull the overload of her poppets' artwork with this magic game.
Play is their work. It's where they expand and flourish and where they ultimately grow.
What play adventures have your children been on lately?
* props needn't be expensive nor the perfect replica of the real thing. Milk bottle lids and cardboard rolls are a teacher's best friends. Bijou played with a homemade stethoscope for many moons until we finally purchased this beautiful doctors' set.