WHO WANTS TO PLAY?

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I’m all about letting kids simply be kids, so when I’m with my grandchildren, I let them chose how we play. The one-year-old currently plays with anything he can see, grab and put in his mouth! He is also attracted to sound. If it makes noise, wonderful! If it doesn’t, he bangs it against something until it does.

The four-year-old, on the other hand, prefers pretend play. Sounds easy, right? Well, pretend play is not all that simple! As the co-player, I am required to listen, follow instructions and role play. But for her, pretending is an excellent exercise in self-esteem. When she uses her imagination, she can be anyone or anything she wants to be – and that’s a valuable lesson!

When kids use their imagination instead of playing preconceived games, their communication skills and the wisdom of their choices are an immediate consequence. Believe me, if the direction of our play isn’t going well, my granddaughter is quick to “pretend” something else entirely!

Last summer she and I took a nice, long walk. We picked dandelions and blew them into the wind and we watched the sun peek in and out of the clouds. When we got back from our walk, she pretended to be a dandelion so I could “pick her”! Here is a poem I wrote for her after we played:

WHO WANTS TO PLAY

“Who wants to play with me today?”

said the wind to no one in particular.

A dandelion nearby held its’ head up high

and hollered, “I do!  Pick me!”

So the wind swept it lofty and ever so softly

they soared through the day together.

“Who wants to play with me today?”

said the rain to no one in particular.

A creek barely flowing said “Come, let’s get going!

We’ll build ourselves a river to the sea.”

So the rain joined the creek until it ran deep

and they rushed through the day together.

“Who wants to play with me today?”

said the cloud to no one in particular.

A ray of sun flickered by, “Let’s hide-and-seek in the sky!

It’s a game we can play forever!”

So they hid and they peeked; they teased and they sneaked,

and they skipped through the day together.

“Who wants to play with me tonight?”

said the moon to no one in particular.

A dream just forming wanted to sleep until morning

but the moon cried, “It’s now or it’s never!”

So the two became friends and each of them spends

their quiet nights playing together.

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