One of my favorite benefits of using play and exploration is the insight I get into kids' thinking and creativity. I've often mentioned that kids surprise me with their ideas and their work. I was surprised again this week.
I put some items out for sewing: blunt needles with yarn and pieces of place mat. I got these place mats at the dollar store a while back. They are great for sewing. The needles slide through the spaces and the pieces bend and yield to pulling. They are durable...and washable if needed.
One boy examined the needles closely. I have plastic needles and metal needles. He noted that the plastic needle was "not sharp." But the metal needle "will kill you." I assured him that the needle wasn't too sharp. He gently brushed the edge. "It's sharp," he said. I agreed that it would hurt if you were stuck with the needle but that it was okay to use. He used the metal needed - maybe a little danger was what he wanted.
He sewed for a while, talking about this and that. At one point he called out, "Hey, I made a bow-and-arrow hat." He held it up for inspection. "Wow," I commented. But I could not figure out what a bow-and-arrow hat was. I can usually follow a child's thinking, but I was lost on this one.
"See," he continued as he placed it on his head. He balanced it and pretended to shoot an arrow. A light bulb went off in my head. "Yes, a bow-and-arrow hat," I said. (Do you know? It's a hat like Robin Hood would wear.)
Another boy enjoyed exploring the foam ball that held the needles. He would hold it up for inspection. He moved the needles around to different positions. He pushed them far into the ball. He tried different places so he could feel the point coming out the other side. I decided that I need to bring foam balls and stuff to stick in them for exploration.
This activity allowed kids to explore in different ways. Some really enjoyed sewing stitches; others liked to take big stitches and pull - just to see what would happen.
I love being surprised by the thinking and the creativity of my kids. They challenge me to learn and grow. And I hope I'm doing the same for them.