What do you do with towels, ladders, wooden sticks and some embroidery hoops? Imaginary play! (and help the teacher a little while you’re at it)
With great delight, two girls played “rescue” together. They propped up two ladders onto the climber to make seats for their rescue vehicle. Small sticks became the seat belts and what do you think the round discs were? Well, cats of course!
It makes perfect sense when you think about it. M loves cats and S loves rescuing people so they put the two things together.
These girls knew the game they wanted to play and they found ways to make it happen. M said “these can be our little cats and those cats are playing with each other.”
They talked about being rescue workers who had to go and fix a leak somewhere. They were driving and had to get there fast. S told me they would be very busy and took great delight in her hyperbole: We will have to stay up all night helping people! she exclaimed with a huge smile. Staying up all night to rescue people from danger is not something I would relish but M and her friend, S were very excited about the idea.
Then M told me they needed some “rescue towels” and I gave the girls the towels that we keep outside for drying off the playground structure and slide when it is wet. The girls used their rescue towels to help dry the structure, all the while staying in character as rescue workers whose job it was to dry the climber and slides. By this time a couple more children had joined the game. Then S sang “Rescue towels, rescue towels,” with great enthusiasm.
Teacher Cindy got help getting everything dry so that it wouldn’t be slippery and the girls didn’t even have to stop playing. Now there’s multi-tasking at its best!
I love how basic items like sticks and towels and ladders can become almost anything. When I witness children using their imaginations and using items in creative ways I see the endless possibilities. If you introduce your children to the idea of using “loose parts” to represent different things it opens up a whole new world of play and learning options.
You may be wondering how this connects with literacy…
The ability to use objects to represent unrelated items is a prerequisite for reading. Children need to be able to play with symbols before they can recognize that the letter A represents a particular sound which is different from the letter B. And the fact that some letters make more than one sound is an even more complex idea so this type of symbolic play is laying the groundwork for future reading.
That’s just one reason why at Sidney Preschool we believe in learning through play.