Monday, 13 June 2016

A Play. Open-Ended Toys.

"This play is going to be out for three days."

The play started here with the items in these baskets.  In the baskets are a  mishmash of animals, little people, furniture, fabric pieces, blocks, magna-formers and more.

It seemed that somehow she knew exactly what she wanted to do.  Did she pre-think this play?  How did it begin so decisively?  I'm still pondering that as her Nanny (Grandma).  What I do know is that she is experienced at play with open-ended toys and loose parts.  She has taken a toy and used it for multiple purposes forever.  I think it is a wonderful ability that will help her to be incredibly resourceful and able to solve problems for herself in the future. 

I was privileged to be in on the start of one her "plays." She is a great boss and let me know immediately that we would not be using any of the vehicles.

So I took them out and lined them up over on the side of where I thought the play was going to be.

She set to work and built this out of wooden furniture.  Walls and a ceiling.  She called it a "hut."
The hut had an "instant" secret door.

As the play started to evolve I stayed back more as a witness because it was clearly her own narrative.

This was the sister (the unicorn) that had to look after the kids.

Unfortunately I had to leave the play at this point but was able to catch up with it on day 2.  A lot had transpired in my absence.

Something about the kids animal getting stolen by their best friend and they had to get it back.  

The vehicles eventually found their way into the play because apparently these animals had to take the vehicles that were being bad and keep them over here.

Taped up bad vehicles.

The other vehicles found their way to the garage. 

Classic open-ended toy.  Dollhouse = Garage.

This is Elsa's house.  It has a little door that can open and shut.

This is the other house where the kids live.  Looks like I arrived at bedtime as they all had a cozy bed.

I noticed some lego play had been included at some point as well.

Lego is an awesome open-ended toy with multiple uses and great value with likely years of use.

"How come these ones are in the bus?"  (Silly adult question)  "Oh," she says, "that's their bed.  They can jiggle it like this and fall asleep."  

Classic open-ended play.  Bus = Bed.

There were a lot of details to follow.  I did not catch them all but apparently this little girl is Mychia, like Lucia (her cousin) but with a My.  Mychia has an ice-cream stand.

This involved and intricate and seemingly never ending play continued on with the children having a picnic.  There was a juice station where they could have blueberry and mint and huckleberry juice.

They had to share.

What a feast.  Great sharing.  See Elsa (the chipmunk) front and center on the table?

Little bits of felt were used for the juice. The table is a piece of painted wood. The animals all enjoyed the picnic.

I had just been to a picnic with my grand-daughter and she immediately incorporated it into her play almost as if she needed to play the experience she had in order to make sense of it all.  There were a lot of people at this picnic.  I'm glad she had the impression that they all shared.  She also noticed there was a juice station.  Interesting.

I'm grateful that I had the priviledge and time to share in this little girl's play. 

It literally took over her whole room.  So much energy.  So much creativity.  Bounds of imagination!

Friday, 10 June 2016

The Beauty of Open-Ended Toys.

My grand-daughter is already 5 (how did that happen so fast?) and lately she has been engaging in incredible play using open-ended toys and loose parts.  

"Open-ended toys are sometimes referred to as simple toys because they don't do anything.   They don't light up or make noises when a button is pushed."

 The child is free to use the toy in any way they choose.  Freedom of the imagination.  Freedom to create. 

As these play scenarios unfold for her there are a lot of details, ideas and verbal narration attached.  It is play but it is work.  She can fully immerse herself into these worlds she creates because these toys are so familiar to her.  

Open-ended toys are toys that have multiple uses. 

Scenario #1

Scenario #2

Some of the narrative that went along with this scenario is that there was a farm.  The farm was in the north and that is why there is a polar bear and a penguin there and a deer.  But the deer ran away.

The blocks are the house and the garage.  Only 6 people were allowed because that's how many cars would fit.  The cars are going hunting for the baby deer, called deery.  The one car had to get towed because it ran into a wall.

The cars had to get "partnered up" to go hunting for the deer.

"Open-ended toys result in open-ended play. This type of play can evolve over time while also encouraging children to create and problem-solve as they explore the world around them." 

Scenario #3

"Investing in a sturdy, high quality, open-ended toy may cost a bit more initially, but it will last longer and grow as your child grows. The fun of open-ended toys does not diminish over the years; the play is simply reinvented by children."  

"Open-ended toys, such as a set of blocks, a doll, or a toy truck will accompany your child over the years as they learn, grow, and play. When children dictate play, it can constantly be reinvented and play can become more creative and complex. In turn, the learning also becomes more complex, offering more learning opportunities."

I personally have had amazing success finding awesome open-ended toys in thrift stores and garage sales.  You can see some of our treasures in these pics.  Now vintage Fisher Price little people, camping vehicles and furniture.  When put together with fabric, glass gems, all sorts of animals and other vehicles, blocks, and nature items the stage is set for great play!


Here are some links to more Open-Ended Toy Articles.  The quotes in this blog post were borrowed from these articles.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Once Upon A Time...Book Making.

My hubby and I were away for about ten days recently and when we got back our little five year old grand-daughter was eager to re-connect with us.  One of the things that she wanted to show me specifically was some books she made at school (daycare).  She carefully showed me each page and what she had glued on and what she had drawn and what she had written.  Seemingly she wasn't done with book making and wanted me to get together with her to make more books.  Her Mother is currently doing PhD studies and needs every scrap of quiet time to work on her own writing.  So little girl came to Nanny and Papa's house for a few hours and we got right to it. First she insisted that we each have 3 sheets of paper with "nothing on eiwer side".   Then she had to show me how to carefully fold the paper and tape it just so.

We worked on our books for an hour and a half without a break and guess what?  She talked to me all about her drawings and ideas for an hour and a half.  Without a break.  Wow, this girl is focussed and hard working!

She wanted to draw a climbing tree.  We talked about how she could draw one. Mostly I just listened as she formulated her plan. Starting with the trunk which she carefully colored in, she moved onto the branches.  She told her mom later "I drew one branch out that way and the rest went crazy!"

She drew a Mom with a worried face.  She told me the Mom was worried because her kids were climbing in the tree.  She had three kids Red, Pink, and Yellow.  Pink was only two years old and that was why the Mom was scared.   The Mom had her eye on Pink cause it was the littlest.

She thought carefully about how to draw the leaves on her tree.  We tried out a couple of different patterns on a scrap piece of paper.  She told me as she was drawing, "This is how I'm drawing the leaves Nanny."  She also made a big pile of leaves beside the tree for the children to jump into when the got to the top branch.

"First they climb up here," and then she explained to me how each of the children were holding on to the branches.  

"They hook their arms around like this."

I don't think that Mama had to worry at all, those kids had their risk taking all under control!!

I loved making books with this little author/illustrator.  She has a lot of confidence in her work and loves to think and draw and tell stories.

She and I read a lot of books together as do her parents and her Papa.  When I read with her I always name the Author and Illustrator and point out when the Author and Illustrator are the same person.  We always think that is amazing.  We notice the kind of art the illustrator creates and how they choose to draw or paint certain things.  She knows what a table of contents is and she knows about chapters.  I think there is great value in enjoying books with children when they are young.  

When you read to young children they will learn:

*basic speech skills
*the basics of how to read a book
*communication skills
*thinking skills
*enhanced concentration skills
*helps develop positive associations with books
*and more!

Apart from the all the great reasons to read with your young children, it is an awesome time to cuddle in with little bodies that grow way too quickly!