By: Diane Kashin, Ed.D, RECE. Many years ago, Jean Piaget, the famous Swiss psychologist who spent most of his life studying children and how they learn, said:
Play is the answer to the question, how does anything new ever come about? ~ Jean Piaget
The playing child is a learning child. We need to make room for play in the lives of children. I would also suggest that early learning teachers should learn through play. When we play we learn.
We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. ~ George Bernard Shaw
This quote is my new mantra as I embrace my place as an elder in early learning. I never want to stop playing. It is through play that I feel energized, connected and expressive. It helps me think. Play helps children think too. When children are engaged in pretend play they think before they act, which ultimately will lead them into the direction of abstract thought.
Looking at the child peering from her hiding place, I can imagine what she is thinking. Was she observing the other children playing and planning her next move? I know the child’s teacher, I know that room was made for children to play. Do you make room for children’s play?
I recently visited an early learning centre. In one of the rooms a big table dominated the small classroom and I observed the children playing in a tight corner. How would the play change if there was more room? Would you label this play as free? I see it as constricted. Free play is such an interesting term. What does play need in order for it to be considered free?
Most of the best opportunities for achievement lie in the domain of free play, with access to varied materials. ~ Margaret McMillan
Materials … open-ended loose parts will support play that is free and full of learning. Using open-ended materials gives children freedom. A simple length of fabric can be a river or a cape. It can be a cloth to cover the dolls or the table. It can be a veil or a cover for a fort or a den. I am inspired by the possibilities inherent in these rainbow scarves from Louise Kool and Galt.
For me they are the epitome of open-endedness. If you would like to make room for these materials in the play experiences of children, all you have to do is comment on the blog with your ideas about play. How do you make the time and space for play and which materials do you use to support the development of the playful and learning child. I will draw for a winner who will receive their own set of these colourful scarves that will encourage imagination and creativity. My friends at Louise Kool also have a special offer for readers of this blog. All you have to do when you order the product is to mention this blog and you will receive a 25% discount on the scarves. I look forward to your comments and if you do receive or buy the rainbow scarves please post some photos on my Facebook page, Technology Rich Inquiry Based of playful learning; children and adults engaged with these wonderful open-ended materials.
It is a happy talent to know how to play. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson