This week I set up the stuff to wash dishes. Kids could wash our play dishes...but all the tools were real.
For a while no one approached the table. The kids were busy with other things in the room. At one point I called a boy over; he had been standing, looking for something to do. I showed him the dishpan of water. He began using the cups to scoop and pour water.
He dropped a few other dishes in the water and took them out. Then he decided that every dish needed to be in the dishpan. He quickly loaded up the pan.
Satisfied with his accomplishment, he moved on to something else. A few minutes later another boy came over. The pan of dishes intrigued him.
He reached in to begin his play. "Whoa!" he said. The pan was so full, he didn't know there was water in it until he moved a few. He looked at me, his smile wide.
Then he began to wash the dishes. He worked with focus and intent. Every dish was washed and put in the drainer. A girl came over and began to dry the dishes. The cycle repeated a couple of times. Then the boy went over to our storage drawers and pulled out a rolling pin and a few pans. He looked at me, and I nodded. "You can wash those, too," I said.
After a while, many kids were working together. Washing. Drying. Moving. Adjusting. Playing together. Doing real work.
We talked about ways to help and work with our family members. This hands-on experience helped kids connect with helping. They may not wash dishes in a dishpan at home. But they can do helpful things. Maybe a little water in a dishpan can help them remember and work as part of their families.
Play. Work. Learning.