Portrait of Play Project, Week 12


My grandma always whistles when she’s cooking. The buzz of activity in her kitchen becomes a harmony, rhythmic, carried by the song. I think about this when Charlotte is playing and in the flow. She is a busy kid and often moves from one thing to the next without letting that song develop. When I taught preschool, we called that “bouncing.” Free choice time would come along, and it would take some kids awhile to find their place. They would “bounce” from one center to another, and then all of a sudden a calm would come over the room (eery in a room of 20 or so 3-5 year olds). In those moments I would try to just disappear so as not to disturb the peace. I have struggled with Charlotte “bouncing” throughout her play…sometimes I intervene to make her clean up one thing before moving on to the next, or I try to contain her to a certain area of the house. I often think about how I need to reorganize the environment so there are less distractions. During these play observations, I am often the biggest distraction. How can I disappear when I am such an obvious part of the environment? Usually, if I just wait it out and give her more space (maybe hang some laundry), she’ll find what she’s trying to discover within all the activity. All of a sudden her play will be in agreement with her desire, and it’s a song. This day was a song. It was about as gorgeous of a spring day as it could be. We opened the doors, and Charlotte started bringing her kitchen materials outside to make a birthday cake (an apple). She sang happy birthday to all her favorite people and then silent night as she went about her kitchen tasks of setting everything up and making it just right. I tried to disappear as best I could, staying close enough to hear the music and mumblings of care spoken to her baby.

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