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Early childhood educator Vivian Gussin Paley says in her book A Child’s Work: The Importance of Fantasy Play that by trying to control our children’s play and direct it with plans and projects, we actually interrupt their learning. Your child needs the opportunity to be the hero and confront his own fantasy villains and act out his own story. When a child makes his own choices in play without adult interference, his motivation to explore, discover and follow a thread of learning increases dramatically.

invite imagination

How will you balance your child’s time between structured learning like classes and free play? If your child loves art, instruction can stimulate his creativity and expand the types of techniques and materials he uses, but be sure you also leave unscheduled time for him to experiment with non-typical art materials like twigs or twine, or for other interest areas on his own. Non-typical materials can invite imagination in all types of play. Open-ended materials are the opposite of high-priced, single-use toys. Instead, they are natural or everyday objects such as rocks, sticks, pine cones, flower pods, clay, nutshells or seashells, cardboard or plastic tubes, ramps made from old boxes, stuffing ripped from an old pillow, fabric cut from a discarded shirt, blocks, twine, clothes pins, even a flagpole stand and pole. These simple items can be transformed by your child’s imagination. A trunk, a small closet under the stairs, or even an under the bed storage container can become an imaginative treasure trove of wonder. You select the materials that are age appropriate and acceptable in your home, stash them away for a cold, wet day and then watch their imagination take flight. multiplicity

photographs courtesy of Kerri Ann Garfield

ith the cold weather firmly taking hold and the holidays behind us, long months of indoor play can seem daunting to even the most imaginative parent. Yes, indoor playgrounds, sports teams and classes can help us through it, but over-scheduling children does not allow enough time for uninterrupted blocks of play. Just play --- play dates to go to the theater or a “Mommy and Me” class with a scheduled curriculum does not count. Play is simple: it’s time for your child to naturally explore his surroundings at his own pace, make up his own games, and create his own worlds.

An indoor sandbox can be as simple as a plastic container with beach sand. Here natural materials are used to create “fairy houses.”

set the stage

What better way for your child to learn to tell her own story than to perform it in your living room? A stage does not have to be a complicated, extravagant or even permanent addition to your home. A floor lamp with directional lights can be enough of a spotlight on her dramatic efforts to engage imagination. I like to add an old sheet as a backdrop that can be decorated with fabric markers or cut out felt pieces, but if you already have a chalkboard wall or a large white board, then incorporate that. Costumes are important to your young actor. An apron from the kitchen, dad’s old winter coat, and Halloween costume elements from years past can be kept in a suitcase and hauled out to provide all the finery she requires. Be sure you set up your “stage” in an area where it can be left up for a few days and locate it next to some comfortable audience seating because there will be many performances daily! --- contd. pg. 35

Be sure you set up your “stage” in an area where it can be left up for at least a few days...because there will be many performances daily! the must-have magazine for all moms of multiples

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Profile for Multiplicity Magazine

Multiplicity Winter 2014  

Multiplicity's Winter issue complete with features including seasonal affective disorder, parenting resolutions, cutting the budget, getting...

Multiplicity Winter 2014  

Multiplicity's Winter issue complete with features including seasonal affective disorder, parenting resolutions, cutting the budget, getting...

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