First Grade is encouraging lots of new vocabulary words -seems like everyday a few more are expressed with accuracy- in your serious, yet exuberant learner. S/he loves using them during play.
And, although s/he seems to prefer structured, play-by-the rules activities, free, unstructured play time is just as important, as always, for your child’s healthy growth & development.
PART TWO : Play & Creative Arts Skills
Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world. ~ Albert Einstein
Have you noticed your 6-year-old is becoming more aware of others and prefers playing in groups (with a new best friend everyday)?
Are his/her self-control skills improving?
Is s/he willing to share and work out problems with others more frequently-withOUT adult supervision- (even though tattling is still an issue)?
Does s/he LOVE showing off her/his talents?
Is his/her Pretend Play becoming more elaborate with the desire to use REAL objects NOT toys-food, clothing, vacuum cleaner ?
Are blocks, Legos, paints, poems & songs in the Top 10 List of her/his favorite things to do?
Lesia Oesterreich, a Human Sciences Specialist at Iowa State University Extension & Outreach, offers a few ideas to continue encouraging the growth & development of your child’s Creative Arts & Play Skills at home:
To help promote an understanding of rules: make connections by playing simple table games like cards, dominoes, tic-tac-toe & some board games like Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders, Qwirkle
To show how to work together: solve jigsaw puzzles, plant a garden, make a snack, perform household chores
To encourage a sense of accomplishment : provide opportunities to weave, build models, cook, make crafts, practice music, present plays & puppet shows
However, if your child attends a public school without the benefit of daily recess…...
Structured vs Non-Structured Play Time
Although your youngster is becoming quite fond of the predictability of routines both at home, school & after-school activities, child development experts continue to agree on the value of daily, unstructured play time. Click on the link below for a great article on this :
If you think your child is not getting some unstructured play time during the school day, you might want to check with the district/state guidelines.
l found it very disappointing that as of March 2018, according to an article written by Irena Schunn for the Capital News Service (“Virginia Makes Play Time A Priority in Elementary Schools”), only 8 states in the USA REQUIRE elementary schools to provide daily recess (not counting PE).
Speaking of PE, the Council on Physical Education for Children and the National Association for Sport & Physical Education, both agree that PE does NOT have the benefits of good, old-school recess:
Recess allows ” elementary children to practice life skills such as conflict resolution, cooperation, respect for rules, taking turns, sharing, using language to communicate, and problem solving in real situations.”
Oh Yeah-we could all use some recess, I’d say…..
Then, there’s the “hindering of children’s Executive Functioning”……and this is a biggie in your child’s growth & development.
And what is “executive functioning”? Hint…..it may or may not be part of a CEO’s job description…. But, seriously……
The formal definition: “The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. It is an umbrella term for the neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation.”
Here’s an in-depth explanation with a list of what these functions are and do:
Ellen Wexler’s 2014 article, “Study: Too Many Structured Activities May Hinder Children’s Executive Functioning” was contributed to the site educationweek, with several unsettling findings.
Researchers have found that working to achieve goals using the self-directed executive function -planning, decision-making, manipulating information, and switching between tasks- develops mostly during childhood.
Too much time spent in structured activities, according to a study by psychologists at the University of Colorado & the University of Denver, interfere with children’s, specifically 6-year-olds, ability to make decisions, work towards goals, and regulate their behaviors.
In other words, children NEED to spend time deciding what they’re going to do with their time.
SOME time is NOT a free-for-all…..EGADS!!!!
And I Do This How????
I’m NOT advocating dis-enrolling your child from his/her favorite soccer team, dance class, art session, music lesson, or theater group. On the contrary, ONE, not several, of these extracurricular activities is a wonderful opportunity for many reasons (which I will get into later on in this post…You Know IT~).
First of all, the benefits for “free time” are: cultivating independence, encouraging imagination, boosting creativity & strengthening problem solving skills. (K. Ginsburg MD, pediatrician @ the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia)
Instead of turning on the video-sitter, try these non-structured~no rules or guidelines other than safety, of course~ activities:
Whatever the weather (within safety reasons): GO OUTSIDE ~ splash in puddles, make snow sculptures, capture bugs, hike, climb & swing in trees, ride bikes & scooters, construct forts & houses, stir up some stone soup, gather leaves, hop & skip around.
Yes, the scenarios are becoming more involved ~ with engaging others, with creating “plot” layers, with inventing props. You could have a budding playwright, set designer, actor, director and/or screenwriter on your hands.
You might want to set your phone on video……
Although his/her imagination is “running wild”, understanding the difference between real and make-believe is taking hold. Using real objects while doing real activities during “pretend” play is becoming more important.
BLB’s Shop has a colorful PDF product for 6/7 Pretend Plays complete with props, signage, & templates ready to download & print. Just click on the link below:
BLB’s Library has a resource to help you & yours with a more complex approach to Pretend Play. It offers 6 Scenarios involving more characters engaged in more involved activities with performance ideas & tips. Just click on the link below:
Creative activity could be described as a type of learning process where teacher & pupil are located in the same individual. ~ Arthur Koestler
Whether you are homeschooling or enhancing your child(ren)’s education at home, there are many ways to include play as a learning strategy.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children states young learners need to begin their days with time to :
“develop self-regulation; language; cognition; social competence; opportunities to explore the world safely; emotional control; symbolic & problem-solving abilities; emerging skills……play is the engine that drives their learning”
I had planned to include a TON of information regarding this, but, instead, I’ll supply links to the articles I found written by experienced, primary educators. There are many! Here’s a few listed alphabetically by author, not importance:
Some Play~Pretend, Free, Open-Ended, Structured, Non-Structured, etal~, though, can be influenced by the imaginations of centuries-old minds~think Fairy Tales….
Can That REALLY Happen in Real~Life???
Fairy Tales are indeed alive & well in your 6-year-old’s vivid imagination. Think~ Tooth Fairy visits!
A major experience in a First Grader’s life is the losing of his/her baby teeth, especially those two front teeth. As a first grade teacher, I had to “help” out many of those dangling pearls, mainly for fear the children would swallow them.
One of the best, and most endearing, as well as imaginative, class-books we wrote was entitled, “What the Tooth Fairy Does with My Tooth”. From giving it to babies to crushing it into fairy dust (crushing?! OH NO!), each child had an interesting perspective on what happens to her/his tooth.
Here are a few engaging Tooth Fairy Tales to share with your “toofless~wonder”:
Bear’s Loose Tooth by K.Wilson & J. Chapman is a rhyming (YAY) story about a young bear experiencing his first loose tooth while he & his forest friends are eating lunch. He wonders how he will eat without it. The illustrations are soft, yet bright forest colors.
Tooth Fairy’s Night by C. Ransom is a Step-Into-Reading book your child will enjoy reading with/to you. The text shares the tooth fairy’s daily evening rituals & travels. The illustrations are colorful & cheerful renderings of her starry nights.
Loose Tooth by L.M.Schaefer & S.Wickstrom is a funny, My First I Can Read book about a young boy trying to get his stubborn, loose tooth to come out (NOOO not the string on a doorknob!!!!). The illustrations are comical in a cartoon-style.
But, on a more serious note about those make-believe tales…..
To Tale or Not To Tale……
Tales of all kinds are part of all cultures~fairy tales, folk tales, tall tales. Many have been verbally handed down to new generations from thousands of years ago. These tales hold within them legends of bravery, trickery, good and evil. Aesop, a Greek storyteller who lived 2600 years ago, engaged his listeners with talking animals that taught life lessons.
I, like millions of other children, was raised with fairy tales told by the Grimm Brothers and/or adapted by Disney (loved the music!). Whether read to me or seen on the big screen, these 1000s-of- year-old tales, full of wonder & magic, engaged my imagination, and, still do.
However, not all children are fans of this genre. My son preferred the whimsy & humor of Dr. Seuss (an absolute FAV of mine) and stories with talking animals.
Child experts agree most fairy tales (except maybe The Three Little Pigs & Goldilocks’s visit to The Three Bears’ cottage) shouldn’t be shared with children under 6-years-old.
What do you think?
The Fairy Tale Debate
Lisa Lipkin, a New York-based storyteller & author of Bringing The Story Home: The Complete Guide to Storytelling for Parents~a very informative read~ shares her Pros & Cons in “The Fairy Tale Debate”:
Yes! Yes! Yes!
Fairy tales have resourceful characters, who figure out how to outwit the villains & their dastardly deeds.
The “hero” characters make good choices in spite of the odds.
The tales show: faithfulness to a belief or character; kindness & patience are rewarded; and teamwork brings success.
The imagery in fairy tales is fantastical with enchantments, talking animals, and super-human courage.
The villains, who are scary & evil, do cruel & heartless things.
Sometimes, those villainous deeds~full of greed & spitefulness~go unpunished.
There are ominous forests full of secrets, spells & magic.
Some of the phrasing in fairy tales is scary & foreboding.
Heroes & villains use gratuitous violence.
Men & women are stereo-typed~think beautiful, helpless princess needs to be rescued by a handsome, white knight…..
Goodreads has several parent reviews of Ms. Lipkin’s book.
Harvey Karp MD, a pediatrician & author of the humorous book, The Happiest Toddler on the Block, shares a few ideas ( with my two cents) on how to read & anecdote those “questionable” fairy tales:
In the beginning of the story, interactively engage all the senses when describing the characters, using the pictures, expressions, questions, & prior knowledge.
During the middle of the tale, talk about the “lesson(s)”~there is always a few~ you want to teach and/or have your child realize as part of the lesson.
Towards the ending~it’s usually happy~ make sure to include an emphasis on the little helper characters~think the mice in Cinderella~ and use your voice as a tool for understanding the roles of the different characters.
Wait a while before introducing stories with children at-risk~think “Hansel & Gretel”, “Bambi” (I got so hysterical, my mom & I had to leave the theater), “Little Red Riding Hood”, etc.
Love Fairy Tales, but want to challenge those stereotypes with your child(ren)? Joanna Parkes shares a great PDF using drama to do just that:
Expressions of creativity~ ART~ can be recognized in many forms.
Bringing to life any abstract, imaginative thought with one’s physical being is, to me, a method of art.
Whether using a paintbrush or a cooking utensil, the inventive energy of an artist becomes a reality.
Your youngster will use this energy to explore, discover, and, then, interpret her/his world in a unique & inspired voice. Nurture, nurture, nurture it.
If you’ve got a perfectionist or a reluctant artist in your midst, a good book might help him/her relax into the world of art. I gathered a few reads into a book list available in BLB’s Library. Click on the link below: