Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Play: It's Not Just for Younger Kids

This week, as the class time was beginning, a couple of kids came into the room and started to play. A second-grade friend came by and walked to one of the tables. She saw the barley we had out to scoop and pour. Immediately she ran her hands through the barley.

She began to scoop the barley and pour it into cups. She parceled it out...put other cups on top of barley-filled containers...poured out the barley and began again. She kept at it for several minutes, until it was time for her to go to her own class.

As my kids began to fill the room, they found the barley and began to work, too. Sometimes one worked alone. Sometimes two or three would work together.

They would try different ways of pouring. They would fill scoops and cups. They would pour the cups into each other. They would sweep the table and pour the wayward pieces back into the container. (Usually at my suggestion.)

As I watched my younger kids play, I thought about my (slightly) older friend. She seemed as engaged and interested as the kids in my class.

Sure, she tried a few things they didn't. But the hands-on, experience seems to engage her as much as the kindergartners.

Play isn't just for little kids. It isn't just for kindergartners.

In light of the dreaming I've been doing, seeing her play really has me thinking.

Learning through experimenting and investigating. Learning through hands-on experiences. That type of learning is for all kids. And for us adults, too.


  1. Looks like you better get a bigger container and lots more barley! I'm glad to see you guys can still enjoy "playing" with your food:) Our Florida regulations don't allow anymore "food play" in the Centers. However, Family Child Care Providers can get away with it:)

  2. I've been advocating pretty loudly for 6-8th graders to play. They're at a social age. They need to engage in things that are fun and imaginative.

  3. This is so true. I work from home looking after under 5's and my 7 (nearly 8) year old daughter often has her friends over to play with her. Well I say, to play with her, most of the time she can't get them away from what ever sensory activity we have out. Although my own children do have to make sacrifices from me working from home, one of the benefits is they have toys and activities available to them, that probably wouldn't normally be for children of their age and they love it!

  4. I have frequently witnessed the same - put out a sensory bin whatever it may be and the older ones come by sooner or later. Sometimes just to run their hands through it or pour it. Many times to sort it. For some reason when I put out mixed beans they all love to sort them out (up to a 6th grader).

    Loving your blog - new to it so I am pinning like crazy!