Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Value of Play

I was watching my two middle children the other day as they were playing house. They were all dressed up in several layers of dress-up clothes and pushing my youngest around the house in the doll stroller. I could hear them talking to each other in tones that grabbed my attention. They were calling each other sweet names and sharing so nicely. I began to think about how they were preparing for their future lives in this role play. They weren't pretending to be bickering children but mature adults who are patient and loving. 

My heart began to sing. Is this a glimpse into the future? Is all of that training truly paying off? No matter where they live or who they become, they will always need the all important skills of cooperation and kindness. I was so glad that they were practicing. It wasn't too long before the utopia of the situation melted into squabbles and the baby began protesting about being the play-dolly. It did however, make me stop and think about the value of "play". Children love to play!

Over the years, we have created some consistent and some special occasion forms of play. Some are typical preschool play and others are a little more unconventional:)  
I have one kitchen cabinet that basically belongs to the baby. He crawls in and out like a little play house when I am working in the kitchen. The things that are in the cabinet are all children's plastics that he loves to rearrange. 
My kids have the typical dress up clothes, kitchen toys, building blocks, education games, etc. But it seems that they like to play in unconventional places most of all. One favorite is taking flashlights into the closet and pretending all sorts of outer space adventures.

One thing that I started recently (Peter's mom does this often when the kids visit her house.) is giving them special play that we do just every once in a while. The favorite is "water play". We fill up several large bowls, buckets, or containers with water and then I give them smaller containers, funnels, basters, spoons, etc. Because I am not excited about cleaning up the mess, I send them outside on the picnic table. The younger ones will play for hours! One variation of this is texture play. Here we fill containers with different textures such as flour, cornmeal, dried beans, etc. It is just so different from anything else that they are excited and entertained. Another modern favorite is shaving cream. I just squirt a little shaving cream on the table and they smear it around like finger paints and draw pictures in the cream. This is also a great way for us to practice writing letters or words without them knowing that we are reviewing school:) When they are done it is only a quick wipe down and they all smell great!


  1. Great great ideas, Allison! And I hear ya when you say your heart sings... I was just thinking that a few days ago... I love it when my children are enjoying one another and getting along :) Must be how the Father feels about us too, huh??

    Love all the ideas on play too... awesome! Love you... Amy

  2. Okay. I'm still not sure if your blog is "open". I haven't heard from you but I checked in anyways. Really sweet post.