Cars and Dolls role in Play!

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Playing with cars is more than just the act of pretending to drive and sound effects. Cars can take on the role of multiple characters to inspire imaginary play. Cars can be used to experiment driving on different types of constructed roads, they can be measured against different length strings and they can be used to paint with.  The list really can go on and on, but the one thing to remember is how cars are not just toys to add sounds and drive. 

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When a child’s mind opens to imaginative stories cars become characters in those stories. They can play supporting roles or be the main cast.  For a child having that imaginary character around will help them be inspired to explore textures, measure, count, pattern, and paint.  

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Dolls are also a traditional aspect of childhood play, but these little wooden dolls have abilities that the bigger baby dolls aren’t quite as handy at.  And that is their small size allows them to travel to many different stories. They fit into baskets, buckets, bowls and are easier to incorporate wherever a child goes. We call these wooden dolls fairies and sometimes they are supporting characters in the stories the children create, but they have yet to be main characters.  Some children will automatically incorporate dolls as their playmates or main characters of their stories and will often include them in family role play.  However, there are also children who have other interests and dolls come in second. Children really do have diverse and similar interests, but often they do not follow stereotypes unless the adults around them are encouraging them to follow the stereotypes put out by multiple toy media companies and TV shows. Listen, observe and converse with children to know what toys/ tools they prefer instead of just assuming girls like dolls and boys like cars.  Often both girls and boys like both. And since both materials are used as characters in stories they are an important part of a child’s process of learning about the world they live in.

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Toys are tools to gain knowledge with, they are materials that are more inviting and successfully used when they have multiple purposes so the child can continue to learn and grow with every use.  Open-ended materials are wonderful for children to have and to use in ways they can understand.  Yet, open-ended materials are also wonderful ways to bridge the gap between understanding concepts and not understanding.  And open-ended materials provide just the right disequilibrium or challenge for every age!

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Let children enjoy learning! And the best way is through play!

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT

 

 

Early Writing and Fine Motor Development

101_4223  Fine motor development in preschoolers cannot be rushed, yet like disequilibrium when being challenged at the right level children can interact with their learning environment in several different ways that support a kind of challenge that is just right to help move along their fine motor skill development.  You may think I mean worksheets or having the teacher sit the child down and trace either letters or numbers, but that is not what I am referring to.

101_3384 By using my school classroom as a “third teacher”, I am able to incorporate many different sized materials that are appropriate for young children’s growth and development of their fine motor muscles.  Setting up provocations to see if they have an interest in drawing is one example.  A common provocation, activity, lesson, whichever you prefer to call it when paper and crayons are present children will usually gravitate to that table because of all the joy they find while exploring colors and expressing themselves artistically.  However, they do not always want to draw a picture.  Sometimes they are writing as they explore colors.  Scribble form is the beginning of writing and is a developmental process all children go through and every child experiences this step.  Children will go back and forth between scribble and symbolic as they gain new information and interests while their skills become more advanced. 

Revisiting the word “provocation”.  When I set up crayons and paper it is not an activity or lesson, it is an invitation to create.  The provocation is open-ended meaning the child can do whatever they want and while they are exploring, experimenting and creating I am observing the entire process and admiring the process.  This child loves to arrange the colors in rows, counts them, sorts them by color and on occasion experiments with patterning.  When other objects are included by the child, such as cars, a narrative emerges and soon the scribble form is accompanied by the child verbalizing a story while “writing”.  As I scribe the words the child is saying aloud, I also inquire as to whether I am writing the words they want me to.  This is a great way to support a child’s writing development and keep the child engaged in the learning process by tapping into their internal interest they are showing at that moment.

cropped-101_4140.jpg By providing young children with choices for drawing/art tools they are able to challenge their fine muscles to move along those skills of development, just as when disequilibrium occurs to challenge children at their level cognitively. A continued example is of oil pastels and how they are a bit thicker than regular crayons and pencils, so more of a whole hand grip is needed for drawing, while the other tools I mention can be held differently to adjust to the size, shape, and weight of the writing tool.

101_4478  101_4802 In addition to writing/drawing tools, there are of course real tools!  Above is an example of both plastic tools, and real tools such as screws and nuts of three different sizes.  The real tools are part of the “Loose Parts and Intelligent Play Things” theory that I’ve incorporated in different parts of the classroom and am still collecting.  We see that once again fine motor skills are in use in different ways and each challenges the child.  Holding onto a screwdriver with a thicker handle and figuring out which way to turn it and how tight or loose of grip to have can cause some children disequilibrium until they have mastered the tool and move on to something more challenging.  Trying out real tool parts such as screws and nuts is also a chance for children to be in disequilibrium because they are getting the hang of aligning the screw and nut so twisting will cause the nut to move up or down the screw.  Getting things aligned can be a challenge and just the right kind because with a little persistence and a little support the child will have this skill down pat in no time.  All while continuing to develop their fine motor muscles.

101_2582  The Marigold School of Early Learning is a Reggio Emilia Inspired Preschool for children ages 3-5. 🙂 Support your child’s natural curiosities and development by encouraging your child to play and observe closely to see what your child is really interested in.  You may be very surprised with the process your child demonstrates.  Children are intelligent people and all they need is us adults to support them on their journey of natural curiosity which leads to an ability of unlimited learning.

Heidi Scott, BA & MIT 🙂 cropped-100_8088.jpg