acepuppets

Archive for the ‘Play’ Category


When my son could barely sit up I decided to take him to  Rhythm Time sessions because I had heard that it was good for brain development etc.  As it happened Alistair ended up being the only one in the session so the hour of music and singing was pretty intense and hardcore.  On some occasions tiredness would make playing instruments quite difficult and my son would lie on the floor while we sang around him.  I wasn’t sure how much he had taken in until he was old enough to tell me and show me what he had learnt on his instruments at home.

in_the_womb_by_xelasminin

Newborn babies recognise music their mother listened to while they were in the womb. children’s music specialist Meredith LeVande of MonkeyMonkeyMusic.com says “More and more studies show a correlation between higher academic achievement with children who are exposed to music,”. This is because “Music simply stimulates parts of the brain that are related to reading, math, and emotional development.”  (Source: sheknows.com).

Singing and playing music is extremely important for children’s all round development while practicing and learning how to play an instrument encourages, focus, concentration, dedication, patience and if they get good at it they can travel all over the world as part of a youth orchestra.  Cbeebies – yes that channel that keeps your toddlers quiet and after a while Mr Bloom and Mister Maker start looking attractive – advocate the benefits of music, singing and making your own instruments.

p00jqnnh

Source: Cbeebies

Schools are accommodating natural creativity by installing musical playground equipment so children can create beautiful music at playtime.  Without adult intervention, children will learn how to organise themselves so that they can play successfully as a band.  Children love free creativity and are aware that music does have rhythmic rules that have to be followed so that they produce music rather than noise.

Capture

So next time you hear an almighty crash and terrible noise and your child claims that they are making music then you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that they are increasing their intelligence – honest!

 

Advertisements

 

We have had a bit of family illness to contend with recently and my son has dealt with it like a super hero.  I promised him that I would take him to LEGO Land Windsor and that we would stay in the resort hotel. To be perfectly honest staying in the resort hotel is incredibly expensive, for the same amount you could probably stay in a cheaper hotel for three days.

We had an early start on the morning of our expedition and many different trains to catch but we managed to get to LEGO Land in one piece.  The outside of the hotel did have a wow factor and was so child orientated that nobody needed to nag their children to stand still and wait while you checked in.  The greatest attraction in the reception area was a large sand pit full of LEGO, tearing Alistair away from that proved to be quite difficult and we hadn’t even entered the park.  We couldn’t go to our room until three o’clock so we spent the next three hours exploring the park.

It was a bit disorientating entering the park from the hotel because you are essentially entering it from the back into the quiet part.  We wandered towards the Viking area and went on the spinning log ride.  Most of our time was spent wandering around and squirting water on the people doing the wet rides.  We had some doughnuts and a drink then went to the shop to buy a big LEGO cube storage box.  We were both a bit tired and relieved to get back to the hotel so that we could enter our room.

The floor our room was on was fantastic and kitted out like an Indiana Jones set.  Our room definitely had the wow factor and the children’s bedroom bit was everything a little adventurer could hope for.  The carpet had pictures of scorpions, spiders and bugs on it and the walls were decorated with Egyptian hieroglyphs and Lego sculptures.   The adult side of the room was near the window and looked like a luxury hotel room with a really comfortable double bed.  There were two televisions so the children can watch Lego TV and the adults can watch Midsummer Murders.

On the side was a set of clues instructing the child to count four objects so that the answers could form the combination of a safe.  We were hopeless at counting and eventually managed to unlock the safe to reveal a Lego car.  We spent an hour resting and snacking on our packed lunch before getting ready to go into the hotel splash pool. It was great splashing about and extremely hot.  We went to the restaurant for dinner and entertainment – the entertainers did a sterling job of playing Simon Says and setting Duplo building competitions.

Finally it was bed time and I was so stiff I could hardly walk.  Alistair fell fast asleep without a fuss and I wasn’t long after him.  We slept soundly until seven o’clock in time for a 7.30 breakfast.  The breakfast selection was fantastic and you could eat as much as you wanted to.  We didn’t have a cooked breakfast and Alistair could only manage a small bowl of cereal because he was so excited.  We stayed in the lounge for a short while until we went upstairs to pack and check out of the hotel.  After handing my rucksack in to be looked after we spent the next three hours enjoying the park.

Lego Land has been designed to accommodate children of all ages and abilities and the staff are really good with children. Before 12.30 a Lego driving licence was acquired, we saw sharks, we went on a train, we saw the Star Wars exhibition and models of all of the major cities in the world.  We also had a play in one of the playgrounds which like the rest of the park had an inclusive playground design allowing all children to have the best time ever.

We spent the last half hour in the reception area playing with Lego and spending money in the shop until the Taxi arrived at one o’clock.  We were taken straight to Slough Station and had a tiring but good journey home.  It wasn’t until I looked in the mirror did I realise that I looked a complete mess.  My eyes were swollen and starting to go black the next day to the shock of my friends who said that I looked as if I had been mugged.  Anyway my son said that his holiday had been, ‘better than awesome’, which was all I wanted to hear.

 

 

 

 


quote-imagination-is-more-important-than-knowledge-for-knowledge-is-limited-to-all-we-now-albert-einstein-48-10-93

I think that the greatest thing I miss about not being in education any more is not being able to participate in role play.  Working with children provides the best opportunities to let go of reality (without being sectioned) and enter a fantasy world.  Although in reality we are all role playing to hide our short comings and sadness.  Some adults take role playing to another level and become members of role play societies.

If you have ever been to a summer fair and watched someone weaving baskets, wearing medieval clothes, chances are they are part of a role play group.  Companies like Iron Shepherds Living History visit schools and attend summer fairs educating people about the Medieval and Victorian era through role play.  Role play is so useful as an education tool that businesses use it to train their staff.  So what is it about role play that is so fantastic?

Play puts the zing in to. ‘role play’, children don’t need to dress up to enjoy it and can visualise a whole new world in the sitting room.  Unlike adults, children see the magic in everything and become masters of their own universe.  Apart from objects scattered all over the carpet, children are processing everything they have learnt during the day and programming their brains to use that knowledge the next day.

We associate role play with the under fives and school and public play areas have early years playground role play equipment fitted so that parents and teachers can encourage and observe children participating in role play activities. Kiddy Charts blog has written a fascinating blog on the benefits of role play for children.  When you are the parent of a young child, like it or not, you will end up pretending to be a shop keeper, customer, patient or a dog.

The Training website basically repeats virtually the same benefits of using role play in training as the Kiddy Charts blog but in a commercial way; confidence building, develop listening skills and creative problem solving.  Play therapy is used to treat children who have had a traumatic time but is increasingly used to treat adults with dementia, grief and loss, post traumatic stress syndrome, obsessions and compulsions, anxiety and depression.  Adults often need to be reminded on how to summon up their imagination in order to participate in the treatment.

If you are an adult who enjoys dressing up as a Viking, knight, basket weaver or Victorian you are probably boosting up you well being scores. As long as you don’t start believing you are who you are dressed up as you will probably have a very fulfilling life.

 


year11

The Spring term is the shortest one in the year but probably the most intense. Teachers of year two and six will be psyching themselves up for the SATs that can now determine whether a school is good or not. My son has finally reached the age where testing will play a major part of his school life and he will be expected to perform to his best abilities to prove that he has been taught correctly. He will participate in writing, reading and maths tests and will face an onslaught of practice tests until he has to do the real ones.

I am all for assessment and how it informs planning for his further learning but I hate the way that it is also a test for the teachers. There are many things that teachers do that are not accounted for in the test so their true worth is not represented in the results. The tests don’t take into account the non academic strengths a child may have and we get so tunnel visioned about what children can do in the test that all of the other important life skills are forgotten.

GCSEs and A levels are understandably stressful because they are transitional and the better you do the greater your career choices but with SATs there are no obvious benefits for the child. Motivating a child to do a test that has no reward seems to be cruel and unnecessary and the pressure is too great at such a young age. I really don’t like the concept of a child perceiving themselves as a success or a failure at such a young age.

My son is looking forward to going back to school to see his friends and play on the playground equipment in the play area next to the school. He loves learning and finds learning opportunities everywhere left to his own devices he has learnt how to follow instructions to build Lego sets, figured out how to build a computer game, how to look after a puppy, that adults are only human and that he loves performing. He sets himself challenges and gets so excited when he achieves them, his first words were, ‘I did it’.

I don’t want vigorous testing to destroy that thirst for knowledge and a curiosity to learn. I feel nervous about the tests in the same way I did when I let him have the MMR vaccine.


article-2085752-0f6da89e00000578-85_964x641

Daily Mail

Natural play equipment has become a necessary feature in playgrounds to create a more natural setting.  As wasteland and fields are being consumed by housing estates,  opportunities for children to participate in natural play has significantly decreased.   Local playgrounds have never been more important than they are today, simply because they are much safer places to play.  Natural play equipment gives children the opportunity to go, ‘off piste’, and create imaginative games based on the landscape of the playground.

Changes In Play Places

An extensive study by Nature England into the changing play behaviour between generations, found that children do not enjoy the same freedom their parents and grand parents enjoyed.  ‘The favourite places to play have changed over time. In the past these were in the streets, near home (29%), indoors (16%) and in some natural places (15%) whereas nowadays children like playing indoors best (41%) and, to a lesser extent, in the garden (17%)’. (Nature England)

Unsupervised Play

Children do not participate in unsupervised play like their ancestors this could be due to; increase in traffic, the use of technology, decrease in natural places to play and over protective parenting.  Gone are the days that children would go out all day and return when their tummy rumbled at tea time.  It is probably unfair to include over protective parenting because 85% of the parents questioned in the Nature England study did want their children to have more freedom.

Natural Landscaping

Playgrounds today are quite different to playgrounds in the past because they have been designed with the importance of play in mind.  Many playground equipment companies started off in either the wood industry like Playdale Playgrounds Ltd or the family entertainment industry like Charles Wicksteed. Often children’s playgrounds were stark places with only the traditional swings, slide and roundabout to play on. These days playgrounds are landscaped and have natural play equipment to increase the play value of the space available.

Natural Play Equipment

Natural play equipment is essentially naturally occurring objects such as; stones, plants, tunnels and mounds that have been made safe for children to play on.  Children benefit from such additions to the playground because they can let their imagination run wild and explore nature first hand.  Children are fascinated by natural shapes and the opportunity to sit on huge smooth stones is too great to miss.

Really the ideal playground would be a safe environment for children to play in with a coffee shop for parents to meet up and keep a watchful eye on their children.

 


I really truly thought that I had managed to bring up a child who like the simple pleasures of sticks, stones and mud as opposed to wanting to blow copious amounts of cash going to places where he will end up finding sticks, stones and mud to play with.  Alas I have been virtually unsuccessful in this attempt – I give my son pocket money so he can have a bit of financial freedom.  My crafty boy hides his cash and still expects me to pay because he wants to save his money and it is not fair that I expect him to spend his.  One thing I have discovered is that if you don’t expose children to places that are screaming out for cash they are no longer distracted by the need to spend and they settle to play with what they have around them.  Bearing this in mind I have thought of five activities that won’t cost you a penny – unless you buy sweets and ice cream of course.

Make A Mud Kitchen

Creative Digital Camera

This is definitely not for the feint hearted and those who cannot abide dirt but it will keep them entertained for hours.  Choose a corner of the garden where there is mud that is easy to access, bring out the pots and pans, add water and let your child have fun.  Put old clothes on them and it won’t matter how dirty they get.  I remember spending the whole summer holidays playing in the coal bunker – I got so filthy and looked as if I had been down a mine but I can’t remember the paid activities I did that year.

Make Natural Sculptures

1005746_530902153632412_1778580400_n

I always mention this one and talk about Andy Goldsworthy as an example.  Basically all it involves is collecting any bits of nature or rubbish (as long as it is safe) lying around and making a picture out of it.  We live right by an estuary and there is often loads of treasure lying around for us to use; drift wood, plastic bottles, old shoes, bits of plastic, straw and stones.  You will be surprised at how creative your child an be and how explaining what they have made can improve their language and imagination skills.

Visit The Local Playground

allithwaite playground

This activity does sometimes coincide with a visit to the sweetshop but often allows you to relax and chat to other parents while your child is completely occupied by other children in the playground.  Visiting a playground regularly means that you don’t have worry about having playground equipment in the garden at home.  In my experience children tend to look for the mud and stones in every playground they go in so don’t put them in their best togs – it will only drive you mad.

Make A Picnic And Go To The Beach

Children_on_the_beach_by_namioevangelista

If anything was invented for children to run free and parents to relax a little – it was the beach.  make sure you set ground rules like; don’t go into the sea without supervision, stay within sight, Keep off the road and by no account go home with anyone else you should be able to let your little monsters run free.  You will find yourself making sandcastles and digging moats, so cast off your inhibitions and dig down and get sandy.

Go Round To Grandma’s 

If Grandma lives too far away go and visit friends and relatives instead. Grand parents are generally so excited to see their grand children that they will quite happily entertain them for the whole afternoon – giving you the chance to relax with a cup of coffee, home made cake and a bit of peace and quiet.

These are very simple suggestions but they are surprisingly very time consuming and once you ignite your child’s imagination they develop momentum and can enjoy playing for hours and hours.  Whatever you do – enjoy them while they are young! As for my son being very money minded he informed me yesterday that money was not important,  life was and he knew that just because he knew.


raised-beds-300x225

I have to say that I truly love my son’s school, they never cease to amaze me with their desire to promote natural learning as much as possible.  The school has a shiny new website that is updated regularly allowing parents to see exactly what their children are getting up to.  My latest visit to the Allithwaite CE School website informs me that they have developed a lovely quiet area with raised beds for planting food to harvest, a mud kitchen, outdoor games tables, benches and lots of wood chippings.  This information was reinforced when I picked my son up from after school club and he ran into the quiet area and with great excitement told me all about how they were going to grow food and how you can sit and relax with your friends.

quiet-area-300x225

I am a firm believer that children need to find their own way to calm down, relax and find inner peace in their own way.  Learning to let go and let the chaos of the world clatter around you is a skill that is necessary in this technical age where everything is quantifiable and has to have been done yesterday.  The education system has forced schools to be concious of testing children so that they can gain a good OFSTED result so that pressure does inadvertently filter down to the children.  As someone who finds it impossible to switch off and truly relax I have been trying to encourage my son to develop these skills while he is young by allowing him to be a bit slobby at the weekends, not making a big deal about homework and spelling tests. I have told him that the holidays are a time to rest so that he can look forward to a break from intensive learning.

The outdoor games tables, which are similar to these by Playdale have made the quiet area look like a potential picnic area, where children can gather round and be sociable.  Even if there are not always dice and counters available the children will be able to look at and trace the numbers on the snakes and ladders board. My son has a great sense of ownership in regards to the school playground equipment and would quite happily sleep there if it meant that he could play with his friends even longer.

I am a little envious that they have installed a mud kitchen because making mud pies and playing with mud and soil was something I really liked to do when I was my son’s age.  My mum informs me that I when I was a child I could never wear my best clothes until just before we went out because I just got muddy and messy so easily.

It is going to be so exciting at Harvest time to see the vegetables they have grown.  My son just finds the world so very exciting and it is a joy to watch him learn and grow.


Hey I’m on Mumsnet!!

mumsnet bloggers network

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 322 other followers

Calendar

November 2018
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Hey I am On Tots 100!

TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs
TOTS100
Advertisements