April 28, 2004

Books Coming Alive Through Play

A friend recently asked me if my recently turned three year old son was absorbing everything he was listening to through the books we read and listen to on tape. I said I thought he was and saw it mostly through his play. Today was a perfect example. We spent the day outside, it was nearly 90 degrees and just a perfect day to be outside (there were still nice breezes) so we took advantage of it.

I wanted to have some special playtime with each of the kids - so I put Sirah in the swing and asked Ciaran what he wanted to play - he wanted me to climb up into the fort on top of their swingset - I agreed - he was ecstatic. I asked what he wanted to play and he said he wanted to buy some chocolates and I said okay - where was he going to the store and then he told me he was Charlie Bucket (no joke) and that I would be Mr. Wonka. This is from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl in case you don't recognize it. I called him Charlie and he called me Mr. Wonka and he ate a candy bar and then got to come to my chocolate factory where he met the girl who liked to chew gum and we went on adventures in the factory. We listened to this book on tape a few times about a month or two ago.

A little later (after playing soccer with Rhiannon - yes I actually ran around the yard today) he asked me to make Stone Soup with him. He got a big bucket and put some rocks in it and then directed me and Rhiannon as to what we were to bring to him. We went back to our houses to find the ingredients he needed for Stone Soup. He mixed it all up and then we shared it all together. He requested both of these games entirely on his own and then gave directions pretty closely based on the books.

I've also witnessed him and his sister acting out Bible stories. One moment I caught my breath and had to stop from exploding was when Rhiannon was tying a sled to Ciaran. When I asked what she was doing she said "We're playing Joseph and I'm selling him to the Egyptians" - we had to review the point of that bible story and what was acceptable play and what was not.

So many of the books we read I later see come out in their imaginative play and the games they create. We need to remember to give kids more credit than we do. Ciaran has only recently turned three but it is clear he is taking in much of what he is exposed to. He requests to listen to Vivaldi (which I played in our yard today while we played soccer), likes to look at paintings by Monet and enjoys listening to chapter books with intricate details. He has fun with them and makes them a part of his life. He even makes up stories about the characters from the Hundred Acre Woods and our families imaginary friend Benkin (a mouse who lives under a tree in our yard) - they have quite a bit of detail too!


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