In my Spanish class, to practice vocabulary and numbers, we pretended restaurant and then we played it at home for some kindergarten readiness fun and learning. It was easy to find materials to play with, there were lots in the recycling and the drawer of plastic containers, and we had lots of time for the activity since it’s summer.
Children base much of their play on actual experiences. As they play, children’s brains are busily searching through what they remember hearing and seeing. From that, combined with what they understand, children will then create new situations. Somewhat like creating a power point presentation, kids will add a track for feelings and emotions, one for actions, and another one for language. Play is really very much more complicated than we realize.
Younger children may only want to pretend for a short while and with just a few things. Older ones may want to have a waiter who pretends to write down the order, toys on plates to be the food, something to look at to be the menu, and, of course, pretend money or credit cards. Someone may be the chef, who does the cooking, or at least stirs some blocks in a dish. A chair or box can be the pretend stove. And cleaning up is part of what happens in a real restaurant, so that can be included in the pretend one at some point in the day.
As your child plays, you may want to interact occasionally with comments and questions, such as is this a restaurant at breakfast, lunch, or supper? Is it a big place or just a small one? This extends the opportunities to use language and to interact. Kids may want to color something to be the menu and find some dress up clothes. If the weather is cooperative, the restaurant could be outside for some fun in the sun. Could restaurant play be on the menu for your child or play center today?
Healthy bodies and healthy brains grow as children play, developing kindergarten readiness. Every room in your house has learning and play opportunities. This post explores some of these in your child’s own bedroom.
The bedroom can start the day with play and end it the same way. Depending on schedules, if there is no time at the end of the day for telling stories and sharing books, you might be able to fit in some wake up ones. Hang on to your socks or slippers for this. Kids who have been read to have built a foundation of 5000 books by the time they get to school. Instead of the water torture that drips into brains, the language, vocabulary, rhythm and stories have dripped into the mind, word by word by word. Connections flow all over the brain as a result of books. As you read to your child, check out the pictures, ask your child what he sees. Mix in a few silly words and see if she giggles and corrects you. Make guesses about what might happen next.
Children will think of their own ways to play with their toys in their bedrooms or playrooms. Are there some books, puzzles, blocks and stuffies? Other great toys are cars and trucks, dolls, and dress up clothes. But there are things like socks that can make great toys. On my blog, I once posted a whole month of learning and fun with socks. Socks are fun to throw and catch, but watch where they land. (A single parent mom smelled smoke in her son’s bedroom one night. She couldn’t see anything burning or feel any heat, but she definitely smelled a strong smoke odor. As she looked around it got stronger so she phone the fire dept and asked them please not to come blaring down the street, but would they mind checking. Sirens blazing they pulled up to her door and rushed in. Even tho they confirmed the smell, they couldn’t see anything either but they checked thoroughly. Somehow a sock had gotten into the light fixture and was burning under the light bulb. The firefighters roared away, but this time it was with laughter. The morale of that story is count the socks after playing sock ball.)
Imaginative play is another fun opportunity. The bedroom can be a forest, a boat, a castle, a store, or anywhere else. Small blankets can be magic spots or swamps and toys can transform into whatever is needed. Social skills like sharing and taking turns also come into play. Would you agree their bedrooms are like children’s offices for the work of PLAY?
Have you ever watched a child turn a common rock into a precious treasure? Or play far more with an empty box than the toy it contained? Somtimes parents and caregivers purchase books, dvd’s, and programs to promote brain development and kindergarten readiness and what do kids do? They use what’s in the recycling bin as learning tools. My kitchen now has a drawer with pastry trays, strawberry baskets, styrofoam cups, egg cartons, plastic bottles, jar lids and more “junk”. All used for learning and playing.
As children play and manipulate these items they are using their imagination. They practice math with counting, sizes and sequencing. There’s language galore as they chatter away and interact with whatever they are creating. Building, balancing, exploring how objects fit together and the noises they make are part of science discovery. Children direct their own actions and practice self-reliance and regulation of their emotions.
Here is part of a young dad’s email to me regarding something he made for his son: When he was around 1 year of age I found rinsed-out pop-bottles filled 1/2 with water +/- a bit of dish-soap or sparkles, then recapped tightly to be great toys. The children can stack them, shake
them, and learn their colors / numbers. For little ones, there’s also learning to focus and track with eyes, to coordinate movements, and developing attention. Paying attention is another thinking and learning skill.
Making this restaurant (see photo) needed most of a morning to set up and create. I was able to observe as I tidied in the kitchen and, best of all, play a little too. I noticed that children’s ability to use what’s available can be a powerful thinking and learning strategy. What might you have at home or in your care center that kids can turn into different kinds of learning tools?
December’s blog topic is how we can encourage children’s development and kindergarten readiness with toys. Today’s post looks at learning opportunities as kids play with stuffies. These days, not just animals and teddy bears are stuffed, but cars, dinosaurs, fruit, vegetables, monsters, and more, all come in a practically unlimited variety of colors and sizes. … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – Playing & Learning with Stuffies
I saw this great sign on a blog called “preschool daze”. Kristin had taken the sign Caution Children At Play and changed it to Celebrate Children At Play. It must be something in the air because my post yesterday was all about learning kindergarten readiness social skills by celebrating with others. The idea of today’s … Continue reading Readiness for Kindergarten – Celebrate, Children At Play
In a school, just like an office, there can sometimes be a pecking order. When it comes to the teachers, the kindergarten teacher is somewhat separate. After all, the kids in kindergarten Play! The kindergarten teachers have to strongly resist efforts to turn kindergarten into Boot Camp for Grade 1. But we know that Play … Continue reading Kindergarten Readiness – P= PLAY