play stages · pretend play · slice of life

“Mommy, can you play?”

“Mommy, can you play?” Ari asked.

I looked at the clock. It was 7:58 p.m. I had 25 minutes until I need to be in my office for the #TWTBlog Twitter Chat.

“Yes, I can,” I replied.

Ari scampered off to his play room — or the room formerly known as our great room — where he grabbed two yellow school buses and some Little People. I brought my plates to the sink and watched him lay down beside one of the buses from my perch in the kitchen.

It’s strange how he lays down like that when he plays with his vehicles, I thought. I’ve seen plenty of little kids lay on the floor to “play trucks” or “play cars.” However, Isabelle never played like this so I’m still fascinated every time I notice Ari doing it.

I left my plate in the sink and joined Ari on the floor. (Not laying on it. Just sitting on it.) I observed as he zoomed the Little People around in a bus. First, they went to Hersheypark. Second, they drove to a museum. Third, they went to dinner at Devon, which is a local restaurant in Hershey.

“Are they tired?” I asked.

“Yes! They’re gonna go home to sleep!” he told me.

Once they arrived at their home, Ari scooted himself over to his Tonka trucks and began playing with them… on his belly. We played trucks for a few minutes. But then, I realized it was 8:20, which meant play time with me had to end. I texted Marc and asked him to relieve me. As soon as Ari saw Marc he said, “Daddy, you play golf?”

Someday, I’ll write about the two of them playing with an interior putting green. For now, I’ll just leave you with a few pics of a vehicle-loving boy playing on his belly.

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OBSERVATIONS · play stages · pretend play · slice of life · speech · vocabulary development

Three Kinds of Play

SELF-DIRECTED PLAY: You know how they say you should never turn your back on the ocean? Well, you should never turn your back on a toddler. (Wait, I already knew that!) Well, I “turned my back” on Isabelle this morning while we were at her school. She was being looked after by her teacher and other parents when I left the room for 30 seconds to get her coat from the hallway. When I returned, I didn’t see her.

“Where’s Isabelle?” I asked, slightly worried. I say slightly since there’s only one egress from the classroom and I had been in front of it. She couldn’t have left.

Her teacher scanned the room with her eyes. Once she found her, she pointed to the corner. “She’s over there, mommy.”

I looked. It seems Isabelle made herself busy with a tea party while I was out of the room. So what did I do? I put our departure on-hold and joined her!

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MOMMY-DIRECTED PLAY: Yesterday I bought Isabelle an opposites puzzle we’ve turned into a game. It’s a great way to practice fine motor skills, speech, vocabulary, and concepts. While she has a long way to go ’til she masters all of the words and concepts in this puzzle, she selected to play with it this afternoon. I was kind of surprised since it seems a little academic to me. But I guess she likes it. (I’m not complaining.) Here’s a look at her making an opposites match:

ISABELLE-DIRECTED PLAY: My mother-in-law came into town today, which allowed me to stow away in my office and get some work done. I came out of my office to check on the two of them and discovered quite a scene. The two of them were sitting on the floor together, complete with a tray of pretend cookies and cotton inside of a sugar bowl. Isabelle had a serious look on her face when I approached. She looked at me, picked up the tea pot, and poured each of them another cup of tea.

“She didn’t want to invite anyone else,” my mother-in-law said referencing the fact that the usual menagerie of stuffed animals wasn’t joining them.

“That’s okay,” I said.

I snapped a photo and left the room, remembering how Isabelle told me she wanted to have a tea party with Grandma later in the day. I guess she remembered her grand plan.

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OBSERVATIONS · play stages · Waldorf Education

Play: A Young Child’s Work

“Isabelle, what is your job?” I asked my daughter last month.

She paused, “Play!”

She was right. Her job is to play. I’ve told her this over and over and over.  After over a year of hearing that her work is her play, she had internalized the concept.

* * * * *

I accompany Isabelle to almost all of the parent/child classes she attends. I try not to take on consulting jobs or make medical appointments on the two days a week she has class.  (When that’s been impossible to avoid, my mother or mother-in-law have accompanied her to school.) Last year I stayed very close to Isabelle at school since she was the second to youngest in the class.  She needed my help with a variety of things and therefore I didn’t engage in the “work” (e.g., baking or crafting) many of the other adults did while they were in class with their kids.

This year it’s a different story. Isabelle is the oldest child in her class. She enjoys working at the baker’s table helping her teacher make oatmeal and pretzels from scratch. She plays with a variety of toys independently in the classroom. Her teacher has noticed she’s about to go from parallel play stage to cooperative play stage. However, since the next oldest child is two and a half months younger than her, I’ve seen glimpses of associative play instead.

20131114-220041.jpgBut here’s how I know Isabelle is more engaged in playing this year.  I’ve been crafting this year.  I felted pumpkins and Indian corn for a harvest table and I even made a fall mobile, complete with beeswax-dipped leaves, today!

My husband saw the mobile this evening and asked, “Did Isabelle help you with that?”

“She helped me by not helping,” I said sarcastically. Then, after I thought about the reality of the situation and the fact that I didn’t like the words that had come out of my mouth, I changed my tune. “No, she didn’t. But that’s because she was playing while I was working.”

 * * * * *

I was buckling Isabelle into her car seat about 1 – 2 weeks ago. I asked her, “What’s Mommy’s job?” since I was curious what her response would be.  She motioned her hands like she was driving.

“Mommy is a driver?” I asked her?

“Yes!” she declared.

“Well, I suppose chauffeur is one of my many job titles.” Of course, it’s not the one I would’ve given myself, but she’s two!  For all I know she probably thinks I’m watching “Sesame Street” on my computer when I’m in here writing!