Originally published November 2014 at Playing My Way
Today I learned a bit more about how to play. No, really! I did……
But then again, I probably haven’t phrased that very well, have I? Is playing something you can learn? I think I’ve always been of the opinion that play is intrinsic…… as I’m sure that many people will agree. It’s something that just comes from within. As I research about play, I often hear about the notion that every creature is born onto this earth with the ability to play. Not just humans. Observe any animal and you will probably find that to be true. And I am almost sure – that just as it is inevitable that when you tell somebody they cannot lick their elbow with their tongue they will try – that many of you will be sitting there trying to think of an animal that doesn’t play. That is if you weren’t distracted trying to lick your elbow!
But for those who are not so easily distracted, and are now just rolling their eyes……. I should just get on with my story of the last few days….
I spent my very valued Sunday in a workshop with Claire Warden at our centre. And she was coming to speak to us abut Nature Pedagogy, Talking and Thinking Floorbooks, and….. well, lots of things actually.
One thing we did, was to participate in an experience outside in nature. The group I was with explored water. What can we do with water? Well, you can imagine all those experiences that came up for everyone involving complex layers of water play with children. But what happens when you strip that right back? When all you have is a metal bucket full of water, and the earth around you? What then??? Well, of course, if you were a child it would be highly obvious. But for us adults – we have to try to complicate everything. Eventually of course, we stopped thinking so much, and played. And we worked out a lot about water.
So yesterday, I kind of recreated this experience. But with several different sized metal buckets, and cans of water. And not surprisingly, what I saw was young children, mostly two years of age, explore that water. And it was almost like they had never had water before. They swished, swirled, tipped, transported, splashed, and felt it. And I watched this with brand new amazement. I’ve worked with children for many many years, and I wouldn’t have thought that I could get so caught up in what must be the most basic premise before. Watching these children explore the wetness of the water enthralled me.
And then afterwards….. well, we took time to sit and talk about what we had observed. We don’t do this very often either. But it sure needs to become something we do. Who would have thought that a bucket of water….. all on it’s own….. without any planned extras or intentions or outcomes in mind…… would have been one of the most amazing play (aka learning) experiences ever!
So for me and for my team….. it’s time to go back. It’s time for us to just stop and remember that the simple things often hold the most value. Tomorrow I might wonder about the sandy-ness of sand…… but for today, it was all about that water….. the cool, wonderful, clear, and definitely wet water.