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Monday, March 2, 2015

Playscapes - Setting the Stage for Play

I once interviewed for a preschool teacher position (I didn't take it) and the woman interviewing me kept repeat, "The classroom needs to look like a catalog."  I had to ask about this.  She said, "When the room is empty, it must look like the pages of a catalog - neat and clean and organized."  While I agreed with the fact that the room needed to be straightened up, I also know how kids play.  If they build a tower, after recess, they want to come back and add to that tower.
For many years, I have thought about that preschool and tweaked their approach.  I think the classroom or playroom or play area should be an invitation to play.  When a child or children walk into a room, they should be immediately drawn to an area, to the toys, to learning.  Toys don't need lots of bells and whistles and make noises to be engaging. When I taught preschool for 14 years, I always had the classroom set up - staged for play if you will - for the kids coming in.  If they were excited to play and found something to engage themselves, transitions and drop offs were much smoother.
As a nanny now of 4 years, I still set the stage for play.  While they are napping, I arrange their toys to scream, "come play with us!"  I often set up a scene to engage them.  In December, one day they woke up to a whole village of gingerbread houses complete with a river made of felt and a cardboard bridge.  Don't you know that they played with that village well into January?
I have been hand-stitching playscapes - landscapes for the imagination - for my etsy store.  You could simply set out the playscape play mat with a few toys as the pictures here in this post are an example and let the child's imagination run wild.
Maybe the Smurfs are hiding in the cave or the Schleich fantasy creatures are going to take a swim in the babbling brook.  Jake and the Neverland Pirates might be playing a prank on old Captain Hook or maybe Snow White is singing to the woodland animals.  Whatever the scenario, the stage for play is set.  Batteries are not included, because they are not required.  Only the power of imagination powers this play.

Playscapes are available in my etsy store - link to the right or www.mybigworld2015.etsy.com

Have a fun & playful day.

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