I watched two TED talks last weekend, both on the theme of “Play”.
They both were really interesting, but the second one really got me thinking, especially when Peter Grey spoke of all the skills that children can learn through play:
I am running an after school activity for G1-5 students. It is called “Invitation to Create” and it is based around the ideas from my book and my belief that kids need time to just explore different materials and processes without necessarily working toward a “product”. On Monday afternoon, with the videos fresh in my mind, I was preparing for my activity. I was planning on reading “The Dot” (as a throwback to Dot Day the previous week) and having the kids put together sculptures in the style of Louise Nevelson. I was choosing the parts, picking the paint color, sorting the objects, plugging in the hot glue – and in my head planning out so much of how I would be directing and managing this mixed age group of children. Every time I walked from my Design Pit to the MakerSpace, I passed this table outside the Head of Primary’s office:
On the third trip from the Makerspace, I stopped. I popped my head in and asked Marina if I could borrow her wood cookies and stones and I set these, the large wooden dots, and some corks out on the table. I read the book, showed the kids the materials, and gave them the option of cutting the corks into “cookies” as well.
Some spent a lot of time just sawing away at the corks. Most were beyond happy to just take the stones and wood cookies and play. The large wooden ‘dots’ gave their work focus and they just stood or sat and played for the hour we were together. There were collaborations, iterations, and expansions on the original brief with students using more dots to make stacked dots. There was conversation, cooperation, amazing ideas, and many “oohs and ahhhs” at others’ designs.
It was playful. It was relaxing. And it was fun.
I learned that when I get out of the way, and let kids play, it can be a massive learning experience for everyone – myself included.
How do you create opportunities for play in your day?