"Pausing to listen to an airplane in the sky, stooping to watch a ladybug on a plant, sitting on a rock to watch the waves crash over the quayside—children have their own agendas and timescales. As they find out more about their world and their place in it; they work hard not to let adults hurry them. We need to hear their voices." - Cathy Nutbrown
Ways to foster creative play
Play At Home Mom is a blog created by a group of moms who believe in positive parenting and play based learning. They hope to uplift, inspire, and empower parents to be the best they can be.
In an article by Play at Home Mom, she explains 5 ways in which you can foster creative play.
1) Open-ended Toys
She explains that the more a toy does (makes noises, moves...), the less imagination and creativity the child uses. A child can explore their world better with toys that are open ended and can be used in a variety of ways. Often children can be more creative with thing's that are not toys, like tree blocks, sticks, and rocks. As well as boxes and containers.
2) Art Supplies
Art supplies create an opportunity for children to be creative and use their imagination as well. Plain paper and crayons offer a better chance at creativity then coloring books because the outlines limit their imagination. Paint, glitter, glue, buttons, cotton balls, feathers, and pipe cleaners are supplies that can have lasting amounts of creative fun.
"The definition of imagination is “the act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality”. Reading is just that. Forming a mental image is what happens while reading. Children are able to imagine what thing's look like, sound like, and feel like. Then they are able to interpret those in their play. Reading expands the capabilities of their mind.
Respect the products of your children's play. When they create something with blocks, ask them if it's o.k. to clean up before taking it down. We wouldn't like it if someone undid something that we put effort into. We want to respect children in their efforts and let them know we value what work they have created. Display artwork and take photos of creations to have as keepsakes.
If your child wants you to play with them, then play. They can take you on adventures you haven't ever thought of. Set time aside each day to play with your children. It helps them validate their world as a part of our own and helps build the relationship. Often, through playing with our children, an understanding is formed. A trust is built and with it comes mutual respect that will go a long way with parenting.
Why playing outdoors makes kids smarter
The Portland Family Magazine (Portlandfamily.com) posted an article about the importance of outdoor and creative play. The author of the article Stacy Loscalzo shared a list of reasons why it is so important for children to play outside.
1) Outdoor play is a multi-sensory activity.
2) Playing outside brings together informal play and formal learning.
3) Playing outdoors stimulates creativity.
4) Playing outdoors is open-ended.
5) Playing in nature reduces anxiety.
6) Outdoor play increases attention span.
7) Outdoor play is imaginative.
8) Being in nature develops respect for other living things.
9) Outdoor play promotes problem solving.
10) Playing outside promotes leadership skills.
11) Outdoor play widens vocabulary.
12) Playing outside improves listening skills.
13) Being in nature improves communication skills.
14) Outdoor play encourages cooperative play.
15) Time in nature helps children to notice patterns.
16) Playing outdoors helps children to notice similarities and differences.
17) Time spent outdoors improves children’s immune systems.
18) Outdoor play increases children’s physical activity level.
19) Time spent outdoors increases persistence.
20) Outdoor play is fun.
In the NEK we are lucky to be able to have many forests and fields to let our children just go outside and play. Unstructured, unsolicited play is the best for our children's development.
The Therapeutic Process of Play
Quote from the article:
"Working with kids, teens and parents who are trying to cope with overwhelming emotions and destructive behaviors is an intense way to learn the real power of play. Beyond all my formal education, the theories I learned, and the research papers and books I’ve read (and continue to read), witnessing the ways in which play can heal and empower individuals and families has been influential to the way I view and interact with my own daughter, and how I conceptualize her play. I believe play is therapeutic for people of all ages, but since the focus here at PAHM is children, I want to focus on how it helps kids work through everyday emotional (sleep issues, death of a family member), physical (tying shoes, sensory issues) & relational (fighting with siblings, aggression) challenges. Play has the power to help children work through their fears, anxieties and conflicts in ways that talking simply cannot. Play also has the power to heal and strengthen the parent-child relationship by bringing the focus to the parent-child relationship and away from the problem. Even those of us in the field of therapy understand the healing process of play is somewhat of a mystery, and yet there it is for us to witness every day. The following essay is a combination of how I approach play with my daughter and some of the basic principles of play therapy simplified for everyday use with our children as they play." - Play At Home Mom LLC
Toddlers to tweens: relearning how to play
"Scientists and child advocates agree that there are many forms of play. There is “attunement play,” the sort of interaction where a mother and infant might gaze at each other and babble back and forth. There is “object play,” where a person might manipulate a toy such as a set of marbles; “rough and tumble play”; and “imaginative play.” “Free play” is often described as kids playing on their own, without any adult supervision; “guided play” is when a child or other player takes the lead, but a mentor is around to, say, help facilitate the LEGO castle construction." - By STEPHANIE HANES
5 Steps to Nature Inspired Learning
Childhood101.com shared an article on ways to engage children in more mindful play. Going for a walk or playing in the backyard provide endless opportunities for playful learning. It also helps build the parent child relationship.
Pretend that you are going on an exploration searching for something that has never been found before. Search under, over, up, down, and around and see what you can find.
Look closely at thing's. If you find something unusual, ask your child questions about it. Pick it up and explore it further.
Find a way to capture the new information. Either take a picture of it, draw it, look it up in a book, or collect it and make art with it. Talk about it later and have the child recall the information.
Research the new thing's that have been explored. If a certain animal or subject becomes of interest to your child see if their is a museum they could visit or take them to the library to look up more information.
5) Creative Play
Do art projects based on what was observed and explored. Play music that's inspired by the subject. Build thing's with the new materials. Plan open ended activities based on the exploration.
Tree blocks inspire endless opportunities for imaginative and creative play!
Mud & Worms
Mud creates a wonderful and fun sensory experience which is a great combination for learning. These children first had a lesson on worms and then they were able to experience it first hand which will enhance their learning.
Screen Free Activity List
Here is a wonderful list to give you some great ideas of easy ways to connect with your children.