One day a week, there’s a bus that comes to our center and it has mats, rings, ladders and other things for kids to climb on. We divide the kids into three groups so that the bus won’t be so crowded. Lately, my job has been that I take the middle group which is mostly three-year-olds. I’m supposed to take them to the classroom for snack and choice time while the third group is on the bus. Usually, they eat snack, I’ll read them a book or two and then they get a shorter choice time. Today, while they were eating snack, I asked what they’d like to do during play time. The kids were all boys so of course they wanted to play with the leggos and trains. Instead of reading a book or doing something “educational,” I decided to let them play!
At first while they were busy with leggos, I started cleaning up the room and checking in with them every couple of minutes. I heard about space ships, telephones, bridges, towers, trains etc. What they could build was endless. After about ten minutes, I went over and sat with them. One boy told me that he was building packages so that he could deliver them. I asked what was in the packages and he told me it was candy. Another boy told me how he was making a bridge. I asked about his bridge and where it could take you if you walked across it. He told me that you have to walk underneath it and that it would take you to the woods. Another boy told me about his space rocket and that it was really big and loud when it crashed and broke apart on the floor. He decided to rebuild it as something else.
A couple of the boys built phones. One boy told the other to call his grandfather and he did. Then he told me that his grandfather hung up on him. I asked why and he said that maybe his grandfather’s phone was dead or that his own phone was dead. I asked if he was going to charge it and he got some more leggos and plugged his phone into the charger and started to call his grandfather again. Then another boy picked up his phone and called his grandfather too, but a similar situation happened with the phone getting disconnected.
We could’ve done work sheets or coloring pages, but then the boys wouldn’t have expanded their ability to build things and take them apart. They wouldn’t have been able to use their imagination and creativity to make up stories about calling their grandfathers or delivering packages of candy. It’s not only dramatic play, but it develops language skills and is a precursor to literacy. They wouldn’t have practiced sharing or conflict resolution when one boy would take a leggo or toy car from another and they had to work it out. They wouldn’t have practiced how to collaborate. I asked for some extra round pieces of leggos so I could finish making my donut and the boys happily found what I needed and wanted to help me build. Finally, there was clean up! They wouldn’t have had the opportunity for some extra team work when we all had to rush to put all the leggos back into the bucket. They would’ve missed out on a lot if I hadn’t decided to let them play!