Child-Led Play

Shovel Dirt Fairy Rocks Fun – Fairy & Elf Activities #7 for Boys & Girls

For a magical play formula we discovered a new one: shovel dirt fairy rocks fun. Big Brother loved it. For fairy rocks, we used small flat glass marbles. The dirt was in a big flower bed and the shovel shared the play with a few diggers and dump trucks.fairy rocks dirt play

The glass marbles are shiny and sparkly, sort of like fairy dust. They can be found very inexpensively in craft and dollar stores but other small items can be used too. These are about the size of a hard candy so make sure kids are past the stage of putting things in their mouth. We made sure Baby Brother couldn’t get them by only playing with them outside. We put them in the dirt in the planter and one of the toy vehicles covered them up. Then, Big Brother used the digger or a shovel to find them.elf fairy rocks dirt play

I thought the white fairy rocks would be easier to see against the dirt, but they are more clear than white so they just blended in. They were almost impossible to find in the dirt. The green ones were more visible but it’s surprising how far away they can get from where they are initially buried. Big Brother buried and dug them for the longest time. Each time he would announce, “I find it. I got the fairy rock.” Then, he would do it again. Only once did a fairy rock disappear and need to be replaced with another. At some point, it will turn up because this is one of his favorite places to play.

elf fairy rocks dirt play

Kids engage in all sorts of repetitive play. One reason is because they are exploring cause and effect. We know what the most likely outcome will be because of the number of times we have experienced something. Kids are just building this data base of experience.

elf fairy rocks dirt play

This shovel dirt fairy rocks fun was a great child-directed play activity. Are there some items your child can use to bury, dig, and find in the dirt?

Fly on in tomorrow for some more fairy and elf activities on the blog.


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 themselves. It’s so hard to stand back and keep our hands off the process. At the same time, we have a responsibility to guide, teach, and keep them safe. We are constantly asking ourselves if we should intervene or stand back. The best advice came from one of my teachers, “Let play be your guide. Remember, it’s an Interplay, and PLAY along.”

We need to trust kids as learners, “Child-led free play is valuable for learning and mental health. Allow kids autonomy over their Tasks, Time, Technique, and Team.” (Jeff Johnson, ExEL)We can wonder why kids will take forever to learn to wash their hands and flush, but pick up undesirable words in a flash. It sometimes feel like the Universe is enjoying the joke at the expense of parents and caregivers. But ultimately, we are each of us in charge of what we learn and when. As the grownups we can provide opportunities and experiences for learning, but we have to trust kids.

We also need to trust the process of play. “During play, children are constantly assessing, testing, and expanding their understanding and abilities. Stepping back and trusting this process is extremely supportive.” (Jeff Johnson, ExEL) As adults, somehow we have concluded that work holds more value than play. If only we could see the massive activity at a brain-level when children are at play. Brains are making thousands of connections and are hard at work. That explains the saying that play is a child’s work. Even as adults, our brains learn when we play.

For a play-of-the-day and a resolution that covers many years, we need to trust and let kids play, and the rest of us too. How will it part of the day for you and your child?

Child-led Play: Wet Footprints on the Patio

The entire month has been brought to you by “ways for young kids to play outside.” Besides the key words ‘outside’ and ‘play’ there is another one to remember, ‘child-led’. Yesterday, I was reminded of how children can direct and extend their play themselves to meet their own needs.

When playing with water on the patio, some of it spilled and made a puddle. When Big Sister stepped in the puddle, she noticed that her feet made footprints on the bricks. She enjoyed simply making a few even if they disappeared quickly in the hot sun. For comparison, I made a wet footprint right beside hers to show how it was bigger. She put her hands out to measure them. Then, she walked across from one side to the other to see if she could still see all her footprints. They were still there but fainter. So she ran across. That worked and she could see all the prints. I tried mine.

That must have given her an idea. From exploring how long the footprints lasted, she next went to a game. She ran around the area, weaving around the chairs and plants to make a path and wanted me to follow. The path became more of a maze with footprints zigging and zagging all over, as she giggled each time she changed direction. Obviously, she challenged herself to make a complicated path and me, to try and follow it.

Child-led play boosts children’s feelings of confidence and contributes to their self-worth. In this activity, Big Sister was adding something new–following wet footprints–to something she already knew–the game of follow the leader. She tackled the role of being the leader and worked at making the game fun but not easy. The disappearance of the footprints as they dried added a humorous element;we had to keep recharging our feet with water. The whole game was more than play. It was like a mini-version of a much larger story, an approach to life: add new learning to what you already know, lead when you can, respond to change, and include humor. In the words of the Hokey-Pokey song, that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Kindergarten Readiness: Playing with Paper

Have you ever had a terrific activity planned (with lots of kindergarten readiness fun and learning) and thought it would turn out one way only to have the kidlets do something quite different? That’s one of the possible outcomes when play is child-led instead of adult-led. Plays-of-the-day this month all start with a p–April starts … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness: Playing with Paper