children and play

Child’s Play Helps Discover New Planets

Child’s play helps discover new planets? Well, that’s a bit of a stretch but what we do as adults often grows from how we loved to play as kids. Many of the scientists at NASA were fascinated by space as children and on a radio show, one of them was quoted as saying she has been intrigued with searching for new planets since an early age.

planets child art play

February is friends and heart month. Following a passion is following your heart. Did you have an interest or a favorite way to play as a child that gave clues about what you are doing today? Of course, child’s play has been a lifelong interest of mine. Being a kindergarten teacher means being able to play at work. On the blog, I’ve included many posts about careers adults choose and the clues we find when we look at their play. This excerpt is from the post Child’s PlayReaches to Outer Space from a couple of years back:

Astronaut Chris Hadfield adventured far beyond Earth to the International Space Station Endeavour. He played the guitar and sang the first song ever recorded in space. He was inspired at the age of nine as he watched Apollo landing on the Moon, but his interest in flying began much earlier than that. Along with others written about in this series, an artist that drew on the wall about the age of 2, a nurse that played with Dr. Barbie, a mathematician that enjoyed numbers, a designer that always liked to draw, a scientist that took apart her toys and dolls, a crafter who created and sold products to her childhood friends, and a chef who wanted an Easy-Bake oven as a young boy, Chris Hadfield extended his play to a career. How can we so trivialize children’s play when time and time again, we hear stories like these?

Lego space playThe question is even more relevant with the discovery of these seven exoplanets. In a way, the curiosity to explore and the drive to discover are the fuel of play. We see from the time they are wee babies,  the immense hunger young children have to find out all they can about the world. They do this each and every time they play. That’s how we can say child’s play helps discover new planets.star wars science fun for kids

Although we mean well, we cannot fill our children’s days with activities that we plan and organize for them. We must give kids time and space for unstructured play and trust them to direct it. When we do, could we say the results are out of this world?

For Kids the Best Valentine is Together Play Time

To a child, love is spelled T.I.M. E. For kids, the best valentine is together play time. Today’s play-of-the-day is suggestions for doing just that.

best valentine is together play time

At the very start of the day, even before breakfast, how about a pajama snuggle. If the day isn’t too rushed, instead of a bedtime story, find a favorite book for a wake-up story. Once in the kitchen, is there a way to do some cooking together? Kids can sprinkle a few red berries on cereal for everyone, or make a yogurt and granola surprise to put on the breakfast table.

best valentine is together play time

Find all the red tools to draw with. These can be crayons, markers, ballpoint pens, pencil crayons, and whatever else you may have. Set out a big piece of paper and let each person draw and color. Even if everybody is doing something different, the various red colors will show up all over the paper and it will look connected.

drawing fun for kids

Dress for the weather and spend some time outside. This could be as simple as a walk, or some time in a neighborhood playground or kicking a ball in the yard. A local park is another possibility for some outside together play time.

family walk around the block

Got any puzzles with lots of pieces? Putting a puzzle together is another together activity. If there isn’t enough room for everybody around the table, spread the pieces and the bodies out on the floor for more space.

puzzle fun

Speaking of the floor, can you push some of the furniture out of the way and clear a space for dancing? Maybe each person could choose a favorite song to dance to. Try a dance moves video for more movin’ and groovin’ play. Add voices to the fun by singing too.

dancing&learningThese are only a few suggestions for ways to play. Hopefully, they will inspire some ideas for your family. The best valentine is together play time. Do you know some other activities?
Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

How to Get in the Zone? Kids Need PLAY!

Kids need play. Each New Year we think of ways to improve health and well-being. Our kids need unstructured play for healthy bodies and bright minds.kids need time to play

With days so busy we have to plan our time, we run the risk of over-scheduling our kids too. While it’s understandable we want to give them as many opportunities as possible, unstructured and imaginative play is one of the best kinds.

To better understand what’s meant by unstructured play, think back to your own experiences and times when you announced to your parents, “I’m bored!” When urged to go play, you may have complained some more but also suddenly discovered something exciting to do or to make. Like a blanket fort, or a space station. Perhaps, you used a toy or ordinary item in a new way you hadn’t thought of before. It was such great play, you may even be able to remember it. From the outside, it may not have looked like play, but there was no doubt it was from the child-expert’s perspective.

imaginative play

Somehow, this sort of play builds better brains. Researcher Serfio Pellis, states, “The experience of play changes the connections of the neurons at the front end of your brain….without play experience, those neurons aren’t changed.” (NPREd, Scientists Say Child’s Play Helps Build a Better Brain)

Unstructured may not be the best name, because it doesn’t stay that way. As kids play and interact with each other, they negotiate and create their own rules and structure. The play process wires pathways and connections in the brain. Learning to take turns, play fair, and not hurt, “prepares a young brain for life, love and even schoolwork.” We all live work and play in a social context.

kids need play

Blog posts and plays-of-the-day this month have all been about resolutions, ways to get in the zone. Absolutely, kids need play. It’s a sort of vitamin to take in a daily dose. By the way, adults need some too. How do you and your child get in the zone and play?

P.S. You can follow the 1 2 3 Kindergarten blog for ways to play and play inspirations. There’s an open invitation to come and play!

P.P.S. Check out Mrs. A’s course on Building Brain Power with Play.

 

New Year’s Resolutions: U = USE Non-Toys for Children’s Play

Kids impress us with their creativity and flexibility, especially in how to use non-toys for children’s play. So good, it happens almost daily! Have you had to search all over the house and car for something a little one was playing with? Like the keys or your phone? Kids play with almost anything. What appeals … Continue reading New Year’s Resolutions: U = USE Non-Toys for Children’s Play

T = Trust: Parents, Educators Need to Trust and Let Kids Play

This post was inspired by play-expert Jeff A. Johnson at Explorations Early Learning. The message is parents, educators need to trust and let kids play. It seems parenting and teaching are balancing acts. There’s so much we would like to do for kids, but at the same time we have to let them learn for … Continue reading T = Trust: Parents, Educators Need to Trust and Let Kids Play

Kids Need Different Kinds of Play: What kind does your child need?

Children follow a similar path of developmental milestones; just like adults have different jobs, kids need different kinds of play. What does yours need? Being sensitive to children’s needs means recognizing some kids need vigorous outside play, some miss the social aspect of daycare or preschool and would like a friend to play with, and … Continue reading Kids Need Different Kinds of Play: What kind does your child need?

After Christmas –  The Best Gift for Kids is PLAY

The day after Christmas comes without the celebration but, without doubt, the most wonderful present of all because the best gift for kids is play. Hasn’t that been the reason for giving them new toys and adventures, to encourage and extend their play? So today’s play-of-the-day is do that, to play. Sometimes, the adults are … Continue reading After Christmas –  The Best Gift for Kids is PLAY

The Story of the Last Playground

To kids, playgrounds are treasure, and the story of the last playground brings this message to our ears, our eyes, and our hearts. Children have been terribly affected by the war in Syria. Their schools and playgrounds have been bombed out of existence. The children are hungry, sick, and terrified. As they look around them, … Continue reading The Story of the Last Playground

Before I Go to Kindergarten #14: Children’s Independent Play with Toys

Are you wondering how the item: children’s independent play with toys can be a ‘requirement’ for kindergarten? How kids play gives developmental clues. Play on the outside reflects what’s happening inside physically, mentally, and emotionally. Let’s watch kids playing with puzzles. When kids first start playing with puzzles, they need large pieces made of wood, … Continue reading Before I Go to Kindergarten #14: Children’s Independent Play with Toys