THE POWER OF PLAY
On the shelf across from my work table, live scads of brightly bound notebooks whose crammed and carefully labeled pages of activities confirm my background as a former early childhood education teacher
They bring to mind a quote from one of my graduate school professors. He emphasized the importance of “Play for the sake of play”, not in order to obtain something, or prove something, but because it feels good and makes the world feel whole. At the time, I was studying for a Master’s degree in outdoor and community recreation. One particular day, the class was required to go repelling, on the Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado. That didn’t feel like play to me. Bouncing off the mountainside, being almost gravity free and dropping downward, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, was thrilling and a little nerve wracking–the first time. After that, the experience was pure play. The world felt whole—immediate, right now, and full of exuberance.
When we returned to the classroom and a more academic way of learning, each of us was renewed. Lesson learned, play for the sake of play has the power to refresh and empower.
Emotions become grounded as they are supported by confidence and pride and other positive characteristics. Studies show the intellect exercises creativity by finding ways to problem solve. The body becomes flush with good hormones called endorphins. These attributes act to improve brain function and mood. Stress is relieved, human connections are bolstered through communication and cooperation. Learning is enhanced.
Let’s give ourselves room to wander from our “Have to Do” mindset towards a mindset that will help us flourish.
Here is an activity to do with little ones that is open-ended- a sure win win. Hot days have returned which makes PAINTING WITH ICE ideal.
When painting play ends, the opportunity to explore what was learned is always there. Some ideas might include: the concepts of temperature change, freezing, melting, crystallization, and expansion and contraction. Are you ready to change from your good clothes to your play clothes?
PAINTING WITH ICE:
Supplies water, tray for ice cubes, popsicle sticks, food coloring
Place water in ice cube trays. Add a drop or two of food coloring to each unit of water. Use as many colors as you have. Try adding two different colors to one unit to create a new color. Place the filled trays in the freezer and freeze until it is firm enough to place a popsicle stick into each cube without it falling over. Continue to freeze. When frozen and ready to paint, remove the trays from the freezer and let sit a couple of minutes to make them more user friendly. Lay paper out and use the frozen ice as pre-loaded paint brushes.