For weeks now, our students haven’t used many of the pretend kitchen supplies. Nobody’s even mentioned them. That was, until yesterday, when one child decided that she wanted to have a tea party and pulled out some items to use. Shortly after her tea party started, we started to get ready to head outside for our Outdoor Learning time. Since she, understandably, did not want to clean up, we suggested that she pack up her tea party and bring it outside. She loved the idea and decided to do just that. What intrigued me though was the number of students that joined in on her tea party outside. Some even decided to use the snow as the “tea.”
All of a sudden there was an interest in the kitchen materials that haven’t sparked an interest in weeks. Today then, we decided to pack up some more food items and plates to bring outside with us. We thought that we would also bring out some colourful water to paint the snow, but it turned out that much of this water was used in other creative ways.
This play amazed me for many reasons.
- Up until this point, students only “dumped” these food items. Now, they were using them in creative and cooperative ways. They were actually engaging in dramatic play.
- Students were starting to work together. Overall, they were sharing the food items, making “meals” as a team, and even interacting with each other.
- Students engaged in this dramatic play for longer periods of time. Even when they did use the food in the classroom, they usually only used it for a couple of minutes and then moved to something else. Today, most of the students stayed here for at least 20-25 minutes, and extended the play throughout the process.
I can’t help but wonder, why the difference?
- Could it be because there are more items in the classroom and fewer ones outside, so the students are less distracted by what to choose next?
- Could it be because of the spray bottles and the snow? Did these additions make some “old toys” seem new again?
- Could it be because of this interest in a tea party? Did this interest cause other children to find a new reason to play with the food?
- Could it be because more children were involved in the play? Did the various conversations allow the students to extend the play for longer?
- Could it be because students are calmer outside? Does this create better interactions with each other and a better use of the materials?
What do you think? Now I’m curious to bring different learning materials outside and see what happens. How will the play change? What impact will this have on learning?