A flock of seagulls appeared on the preschool playground earlier this week.
Like real seagulls, the children discovered a pile of fabric – that had been purposely placed on the tables for the children to find – swooped in and began pulling out what they needed.
The kids played with the fabric for a while simply running around holding the fabric or draping it over play structures. After a few minutes they began asking to have the fabric tied to form capes, so we brought out clothes pins and rubber bands. The fabric was clipped on to the children’s jackets and we also offered to attach the fabric to their wrists, using rubber bands.
As the children were running around my co-teacher made the comment that the children looked like a flock of birds. My co-teacher and I began talking about what type of birds they might be and where they might live. We did not include the children in this short conversation, but it was held in ear shot of some of the children. Soon the play turned from super heroes to birds. Many of the birds still had super powers, but they began making bird sounds and our more nurturing children began talking about building a nest and laying eggs.
While we want the children to play freely we also want to encourage higher level play and sometimes they need a little nudge to go in that direction. A pile of fabric placed on a table and a conversation between adults is much likelier to direct play than if we had said to the kids “we have been talking about birds at circle and now we want you to go play like birds.”
How do you encourage your child’s play without directing it?