Mud Pie Anyone?
A Play Framework
What if only two rules in life exist? The first is to have a good time and the second is to make sure others have a good time. This may not be a productive way of thinking in all aspects of life, right? When it comes to children’s play, however, it opens up the possibilities for creativity, self-discovery, and an abundance of fun. Too often children are told what to play or how to play and this can leave creativity and individuality lacking. As parents and educators, it is crucial to allow children to be children- give them a safe setting to play and let everything else be up to them!
Playing in the Mud
In the articles, A Muddy First and Making a Mud Kitchen for Mud Day, the authors discuss findings from activities that took place on a rainy and muddy day at Castle Primary School in England. On this particular day, the children and parents were given those two sets of rules and were only provided with suggestions for activities. These suggestions included creating their own mud kitchen, making a mud pie, mud ball catapult, and animal swamp. Once the day concluded, the parents and children were asked to reflect on their time. It was quite clear through their responses that when play was unpredictable and open-ended the quality was influenced by the values important to the children. These values included creativity, social skills, and cooperation.
The educators in this particular setting were following a play cycle framework founded on the idea that learning depends on experimentation, observation, and finally reflection. This framework aligns with the Reggio Emilia approach where children are given tools and support simply to guide them through their own paths of discovery. The first part of this framework involves the child who initiates the play whether it is through social, verbal, or physical actions. The child then waits for a response from others and finally the play actually takes place. The goal within this framework is the development of the child as a whole. Allowing children to individually explore and learn inspires them to think, question, investigate, explore and navigate the journey of learning.