What happens when young children have a couple of babies, an astronaut costume and some princess dresses? Put it all together, add a little imagination, and here’s what you get!
MC We’re saving room for that space guy, right?
MBF I am the space astronaut and that means I drive. We’re gonna go to space.
Teacher Cindy What are you going to do in space?
MC Rescue the princess!
A I’m holding the baby.
MC told me that the baby had a dream and that’s how they knew that they had to travel into space to rescue the princess! She also told me that they had to get away from an evil witch! Exciting!
Is this simply play? Or is there real learning happening here. Let’s take a closer look:
The B.C. Early Learning Framework outlines four areas of early learning: Well Being and Belonging, Exploration and Creativity, Languages and Literacies, Social Responsibility and Diversity
Well Being and Belonging As children pretend to care for a baby, they begin to learn about what humans need to be healthy. The baby needs a blanket and a place to sleep, the baby needs cuddles and nourishment. As children dress the babies and themselves in dress-up clothing, they develop motor coordination in their hands and fingers as they manage zippers, snaps and buttons. As they travel in space they move their bodies in jumps, leaps and steps. They develop more gross motor coordination. As the children play they form relationships with one another. When Teacher Cindy asks about their play, they get some attention from an adult who values their play and their ideas.
Exploration and Creativity Children explore the idea of space travel using their whole bodies as they move about the room. The pillows can be used in many ways… this time they are a space ship; another day, they may serve as a bed, a train, an airplane or even a doctor’s office. When Teacher Cindy asks about what they will do in space, this gives the children an opportunity to plan their play and add more creative ideas. The children learn from each other as they each take on a role “astronaut” “princess” “mom” “sister” and find ways to collaborate with the creative ideas that they contribute.
Language and Literacies As children speak and listen to one another, they practice communicating and learning from others. The children make up their own “story” through their creative ideas and play. All the children’s ideas taken together form the story.
Social Responsibility and Diversity Children understand that babies are different and need extra care and attention. The children feel a social responsibility to “rescue” the princess with the whole idea that if someone is in trouble, we help them. Next time, Teacher Cindy would like to ask them, “Can a princess drive the space ship?” “Can an astronaut take care of a baby?” It is great to see a mix of boys and girls at play.
So are these children learning? YES!! And because their play is self-directed, the learning is meaningful to them. Much more meaningful than any workbooks or flash cards we could give them… boring (yawn).
So let your children play!!! And trust the learning is always taking place.
Learning and play cannot be separated!