I watched two boys - good friends - working together in the writing center. They were intently working on a piece of paper together. One would draw and pass it over to the other. He would draw and pass it back.
This happened a couple of times - back and forth. Sometimes they both drew at the same time. They were talking quietly together as they worked and watched. They grabbed another piece of paper and continued on.
I saw them gesture to parts of the drawing as they reviewed and discussed it. I didn't intrude on the discussion or hear what was said.
I moved to other parts of the room. When I noticed them again, they had moved to the dramatic play center. We had our gardening materials out.
They donned gloves (avoiding the pink ones pointedly). They "dug" on the floor, arranged flowers and plants in designs. They even snagged the block bin as part of their garden.
I moved to other parts of the room. Later I saw them back at the writing table. It's not unusual to see young children move back and forth around the room. Usually these guys stick with something for a while and then don't return but each day is its own adventure.
I wandered back over to check it out. One boy noticed me: "It's our plan," he explained. I nodded. Plans are often drawn in my classroom. The boys finished and moved to put their paper in the "take home" area. Then they were back at the garden.
All of a sudden it hit me. I walked over to where they were working. One went to look at the paper and then came back. "You were drawing the plans for your garden?" I asked.
"Yeah," they said and continued working. Like it was no big deal. And perhaps it wasn't.
Except that it was. These boys were using marks on a page as symbols of what they wanted to do. They were using writing with meaning and purpose. They were also formulating a plan and carrying it out. They were working together to accomplish a task (and to make a plan). They were practicing important skills...life skills.
And they did it all on their own. No one suggested they do this. The writing center and the dramatic play center are not even that close together in the room.
Play builds life skills. And kids don't need me to tell them that.