I am currently taking an early childhood education class about play and I am finding that I notice a lot more things about play when I am around children than I did before this class. I am looking at play a lot differently and I often stop myself from ending light rough-and-tumble play because I have learned about its benefits.
At daycare last week something phenomenal happened. There is a teacher cupboard that the students are not allowed in and there was a bag of some squares of a meshy fabric – basically scarves. In the afternoon one of the teachers had removed the bag from the cupboard for some reason and it was sitting on a table out in the open and one of the children found it and pulled one out. Now, this happened on Saturday and on the weekends things are a little different at the daycare. The weekend staff allow the children to do a lot more than the weekday staff and actually let them make a bit of a mess without getting on their case about being so messy and loud. In other words – the weekend staff let the children play and have some fun. So, there is one child playing with a scarf and of course, the other children notice it and want one too. All of the children find the bag and everyone takes a scarf and miraculously none of the teachers object to this.
It was incredible watching these children play with the scarves. After everyone had at least one scarf some of the children took another one, and none of the children fought over who got two scarves and who got just one. One of the staff, the only male that day, helped some of the children tie their scarves into different props. There were aprons, capes, scarves, skirts, robber/bandit masks, shirts, and many other things and each was worn by both girls and boys. I have never seen all of those children play together and have so much fun with just a swatch of material. There were some kids that I had never seen play together who were because their scarf costumes matched.
When it was time to clean up for supper the teachers helped the kids untie their costumes and the kids put their scarves back in the bag. I found myself just standing back and watching everything that happened instead of helping with supper or clean-up. The only thing I kept thinking was that I can’t wait until I am in my own classroom so I can inconspicuously place a bag of scarves in the room, stand back, and watch what happens.