Wednesday, 3 February 2016

What is play?

Over the years I have watched children play... sometimes it has been obvious to see what their play is, other times it has been more complicated to understand what part of their actions has been play...

I have seen children standing at the sidelines that look like they are just watching... but when asked they say they are playing... and other times the child on the sideline feels excluded. So getting to know and understand each child is so important to be able to work out why they are on the side looking in...

Then there is play where the children are playing and it is just so obvious. The play is ozzing out of every pore and fills the room. It is easy to see and understand.

Then there is play that looks like work but is perceived as play... like my group of children this week that scraped all the ice and sand off a slide and kept exclaiming how much fun it was... despite it being obviously hard work... when I asked them about their activities they described it as work and play, but mostly play.

One child could not see the play in this ice-scraping activity... and kept asking if the three children scraping "wanted to play" - and presented various ideas like tag and their favourite role-play games based on TV programmes they watch. This child could not comprehend how the others could answer "but we are playing". I saw confusion on the face of the child.

Play is really rather complex... and we need to take a step back from how we adults define play and explore how children define play.

A bit more about the ice scraping...

It started with the children enjoying the new sound of going down the slide with a coating of ice... (rain/sleet that had frozen during the night). It made the slide fairly fast, but not as fast as it is when rainy.
One child decided to experiment by putting sand at the top of the slide and then sliding down with the sand... a new sound was created... all the children wanted to test it out... but soon discovered that it made the slide very slow... so they started the process of scraping off the ice and sand so that the slide would be fast again. As they scraped they discovered that this was fun too... not only the noise, but wathcing the ice fly off and also the patterns with shiney metal coming through. They even scraped off the ice and sand by sliding down with a spade at an angle... the ice/sand looking like fireworks as they scraped it off downwards.

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic observation. I can really picture the scene playing out and hear the sounds of the sand down the slide and the ice being scraped off. Defining play can be very difficult as the line between play and not play can be very hazy and children can switch between the two in a moment.