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Here we are at day 10 in our 30 Days to Transform Your Play series. Today we are talking about selecting materials.
I have written about materials previously. In it I wrote:
“Materials have the potential to draw you in, make you want to stay a while, explore a little (or a lot), try new things, create and wonder. They also have the potential to completely turn you away.”
“The way we think about materials really reflects how we think about children”
The way we select and arrange materials for our children reflects our image of children; if we see our children as capable and deserving, if we respect them as inquisitive and creative beings, then this will be reflected in the materials we choose and the environments we create for them.
“If you compare collecting materials for children to the pleasure of finding a gift for a dear friend, you will likely transform the way you view your teaching job [or role as parent]”
~ Curtis & Carter: Learning Together with Young Children
Compare a brightly coloured hard plastic toy or material with a thrifted wooden alternative, which one would you prefer to play with? Beautiful materials don’t have to be expensive. I actually find that they are often cheaper than traditional plastic toys you find in chain toy store.
When you are selecting materials, ask yourself:
- is it beautiful?
- would I like to play with it?
- does it allow the child to create most of the play?
- will it engage my child’s creative and inquisitive mind?
- will it encourage them to think, wonder, pretend, and discover?
- does it recognise my child’s desire to learn and develop their skills?
Here’s some of Jack and Sarah’s favourite toys and materials:
For displaying toys:
- glass jars and vases – reuse your old food jars as well as search out interestingly shaped jars and vases at thrift stores
- cane baskets – K-mart have a nice selection of affordable cane baskets. Also you can easily remove the handles on second-hand baskets
- wooden trays – bamboo trays are becoming more affordable and readily available (try K-mart & Big W) but I love the old ones from thrift stores
- transparent containers – great for working on the light panel or on mirrors
Some of our favourite building materials:
- Generic Jenga blocks – K-mart
- Spielgaben – read my review of the set
- Window blocks
- Interlocking blocks
Pretend Play Materials:
Think beautiful, natural and open-ended. Some of our most popular materials for imaginative play:
- old silk scarves and shawls – thrift store
- ribbon wands
- figurines – I am particularly fond of Schleich and Safari Ltd Toobs
- natural materials – tree blocks, shells, wood chips, pinecones, pumicestone, anything and everything
- natural peg people
- twine, wool, ribbons, fabric scraps
We are going to talk more about loose parts later in the month. For now you can read my thoughts on the theory of loose parts.
I just wanted to show you a few of our favourite materials. I think if we are mindful of each material we bring in to our homes and consider whether this material enhances our children’s lives; invokes a sense of discovery, of potential and of wonder then we will indeed transform our play.
A little reflection for you; something to think about:
- What do you think is your image of a child?
- Where do you think this image came from?
- How do you think this idea of a child; what they are capable of, what they will do with different materials, the extent to which they can be trusted to use different materials and engage in different experiences; influences the materials you buy?
If you missed a post, here’s the rest of the series.
Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s posts on Racheous – Lovable Learning