children and play

Play Is Valuable for Young Children

Play is valuable for young children. Think of it as the pot-of-gold treasure at the end of a rainbow and we can make it happen for kids.

rainbow art for kidsWe all want what’s best for kids and go to extraordinary links to deliver that. For young children, that best includes time and opportunity to play. In a way, that’s an easy answer. It doesn’t give much information about the ways to play or what kinds of things kids need to play with. Professor and researcher, Dr. Alison Gopnik explains:

“Children learn by playing with everyday objects and by pretending. The old standbys of water, sand, mixing bowls, and cardboard boxes are still the most effective ways for babies and young children to learn about the physical world while the whole world of pretend—dolls and costumes and toy dishes—is the most effective way to learn about the social world.” (Dr. Alison Gopnik on the Evidence that Connects Play to Learning)

Leprechauns are very playful by nature, so here are a few ideas for ways to play today.

  • Mix up a batch of green or gold play dough and let kids smush, roll, pat, cut, and create.
  • Leprechauns hide their treasure, so play hide and seek with kids. Or, kids can play this game with each other.
  • Spend some time at the playground or park, playing in the golden sun.
  • Pretend everyone has the power to make wishes come true. What would some wishes be?
  • Leprechauns and fairies love music. Fairies especially love to dance. They dance so much they constantly need new shoes. That’s why leprechauns are shoemakers. Put on some music so kids can dance around.
  • In Ireland, people drink lots of tea. Might your child like to have a St. Patrick’s Day tea party?

tea party pretend playFor kids, treasure can be spelled p l a y, because play is valuable for young children. Here is a wish for you and your child,

May your day be filled with laughter and play.


Play and Gender Equality for Young Children

International Women’s Day has some things for parents and caregivers to think about in terms of gender equality for young children and play. There are some questions we need to ask ourselves.

girl climbing tree gender equalityOne of these questions could be, “Are we limiting kids and play and dividing it into what boys do and what girls do? Sometimes we hear kids say, “Girls can’t do that,” or, “Boys can’t do that,” and we wonder where these ideas come from.

As a young mom, I fully intended that my daughter would be allowed to play with trucks as well as dolls and my son could a have playhouse and dishes as well as blocks and other construction toys. There would be gender equality in our house. Despite having the same toys though, they didn’t play with them the same way. My daughter wrapped up the tractor in a blanket and put it to bed. My son used the spoon as a car and drove it down the hall complete with gear-changing noises.

Some of children’s ideas come from watching the world around them. In an article called “Boys Can’t Do That”, Martha Rakestraw writes, “Studies show that by age two children begin to notice physical differences and by age three they have developed ideas about behaviors, activities, etc., that go with a particular gender. ”

As kids are trying to figure out how things work, they tend to overgeneralize. When we hear kids say something like, “Boys can’t play with dolls,” we can ask, “Do you think some boys might like to play with dolls?” A child may comment, “Girls can’t climb trees.” Again, we can ask, “Do you think sometimes a girl might climb a tree?” This gives kids something to think about as they develop their understanding of gender.

boy playing dolls gender equality

International Women’s Day supports women and girls to have equal opportunities and experiences. Gender equality for young children is a concern for all of us. It may be changes like asking stores to change layouts so instead of being divided into Girl Toys and Boy Toys, the sections might be Construction Toys, Dolls, Art Toys, etc. It could be supporting access to education. For all children, what are some ways we can support their play and development?

Ways Children Play – Valentine From Play #2

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. ways children playWhy 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?

A Valentine from PLAY to Kids: How Does Your Child Play?

Did your child get any valentines? This is a rather unusual one, it’s a valentine from PLAY to a child. The valentine says, “I want to play with you!” In the part that says ‘From’, instead of a name, there is a mirror made out of foil and shaped like a heart. The message is … Continue reading A Valentine from PLAY to Kids: How Does Your Child Play?

Parents Are Children’s First Teachers and Playdates

Parents Children’s First Teachers, Home First School and Playground Have you heard the saying that parents are children’s first teachers and do you have worries, concerns, and a long list of questions about what to do? Often, parents and caregivers are reluctant to try some activities because they worry if they are good enough, think … Continue reading Parents Are Children’s First Teachers and Playdates