Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Tale of Play

Yesterday I posted one of my new favorite quotes. Why does play need a defense? Do we need a reason for allowing kids to play? Why do I need to use the word allowing? Play is what kids do and we as adults shouldn't get in the way. Recently in my classroom, this happened.

I had put out smooth river rocks with the blocks.

He came to the blocks center. He stacked a few blocks. I called attention to the rocks, just to make sure he knew they were there and that he could use them. He looked at them and continued to build.

Then he built a tall structure. He added a few rocks to it.

He modified the building and added more rocks in strategic places.

He built another structure across from the first, with no rocks.

He held a block, touched the structure with no blocks, arced across the space, and released the block near his structure with rocks. The block tapped it but nothing else happened. I made some observational comment.

He held two other blocks, one per hand, and did the same thing. Except this time he held his blocks over the rock structure and released one.

The block hit the structure and it collapsed. "It fell," I said.

A rock rested on a block amid the ruined structure. "There's one left!" he said. Quickly he touched a block to the other structure, arced the block across the span, and let it go, knocking the rock off the last block.

And then I got it.

"What you are doing," I said, "makes me think of the game called Angry Birds."

The boy smiled at me. I continued, "I think you are using the rocks to be pigs." He nodded.

I watched as he built structures, nestling rocks among the blocks.

And destroyed them.

Play - undirected, open play - allowed my young friend to create a real-world version of a video game.

Was learning involved? Of course. Can it be assessed? In a manner. But why should I even want to do that? He recreated Angry Birds! And it was fun.

I watched other kids use this boy's idea to make their own versions. They played. And it was fun.

And I don't need to defend or justify it.

(P.S. Teacher Tom is blogging about play today, too.)


  1. I just want you to ow that I have just finished reading Rae Pica's book based on your recommendation and I found it so thought provoking. I don't really blog myself but I read blogs, yours included. Thank you for bringing this book to my attention because it has given me so much food for bought regarding my own practice!

    1. The book gave me lots to think about, too. Thanks for reading the blog.

  2. Sorry, that should be, "I just want you to KNow"