There are so many different ways children play. Some of these depend on the age of the child, what’s available, and, of course, individual interests. In this post, a 15 month old girl has maybe heard the story, Puss in Boots, many times because she likes to empty a purse in boots. Why do kids do the same thing over and over when they play? Often, for the very same reasons we do things over and over. Practice. Remember, to a child play isn’t just fooling around. It’s very serious work. P really enjoys taking the cards out of a purse or handbag and puts them in her rain boots. Then, she dumps them out and does it all over again.
As P plays in this way, she is linking up a whole series of actions. Her fingers pick up, the whole arm moves, the fingers let go, and the arm returns to the starting place. The brain is creating a pattern and getting into the groove. In, out, in, out, in, out. These opposites are like the rhythm needed for walking and other actions. They are are also part of relationships–your turn, my turn, your turn, my turn.
The brain has quite a challenge, and not just for the moves. Each time, P has to remember where the cards are and how to get them. Her brain has to search for the right sequence for the movements she wants to do with the cards. That’s a lot of links. Somewhere in the background, her brain may notice that the objects she is using do not disappear or change. This is like some things, but not like others. Put an ice cube in a child’s bowl of soup because it’s too hot and it disappears.
The brain will also note the texture and feel of the cards. Later on, P may notice how another object, such as a placemat, may feel slippery like the plastic cards. The cards have different colors and squiggles. When people use these cards, they sort through them to find a particular one to do something. And when the brain notices, the endless why questions start
This is only a very small portion of what’s happening during play. Isn’t it amazing the ways children play?