A Year of Pretend Play at the Library: Part One

Playing is learning. This probably isn’t news to the people who read this blog, but it bears repeating because it’s easy to forget. Kids play all the time at home, and it can become something that happens in the background that we don’t think about. At the library, we place a priority on play. We make it a point to invite kids and grownups to play together. If asked, I could go on and on about the ways that pretend play, in particular, helps kids develop early literacy skills, but my goal with this post is to show off some of the fun pretend play themes I’ve had at my library over the last year. So here goes! :)

 

Narrative Skills:

img_4257.jpgWe celebrated Picture Book Month with an Enchanted Forest theme. Kids could dress up as fairy tale characters or use the stuffed animals to tell their own version of familiar stories. The story cubes could spark a creative retelling that mixes up all sorts of fairy tale elements. I made these myself by covering some wooden blocks with construction paper and tape, but you can also buy story cubes or story sticks aimed at preschoolers to encourage storytelling.

 

Social Skills:

img_4985.jpgIn the grocery store, the ice cream shop, and other community based play spaces, kids can imagine themselves in various roles. They can take turns being proprietor or a customer, seeing the interactions from different roles and developing empathy for experiences outside of their own.

 

Vocabulary:

img_4905.jpgIn the Fix It Shop, we named the tools. In the Sense Lab, we encouraged the use of descriptive language as kids explored the world with their senses. Our Space Station offered various science words. Don’t underestimate kids’ willingness to learn complex vocabulary if they are interested in the topic!

 

Print Awareness:

img_5551.jpgIn the community based play spaces (World Café, Ice Cream Shop, etc), the menus and other signage are examples of the way that we interact with printed words as we life our lives. Understanding just how much we rely on printed language is an important part of learning to read.

 

Print Motivation:

img_5727.jpgKids and caregivers are always encouraged to learn more about the topics with books. Learning to read is hard work, and if kids are interested in the topics they are reading about, they be much more motivated.

 

Letter Knowledge:

img_4413.jpgExploring shapes and sorting objects based on likes and differences is a first step to letter knowledge. Our grocery store featured pictures of letters made out of food, and the Sense Lab encouraged sorting objects based on how they feel.

 

Phonological Awareness:

img_5842.jpgSinging songs and chanting rhymes help kids hear the sounds of words more clearly than in regular speech. We included the words to a rhyme in our Ice Cream Shop and our Space Station to add an opportunity to build phonological awareness while at play.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post about my library’s pretend play space relates to early science skills!

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My Mother’s Day

May 9, 1914 Woodrow Wilson officially established Mother’s Day as an American holiday.  According to This Day in History from The History Channel, the idea for the holiday was from the desire to celebrate peace.  This article on the Life as a Human blog makes the connection between Mother’s Day and peace even stronger.  I must say, I am inspired.  Perhaps next year, I will organize some kind of volunteer experience related to peace for my family instead of the traditional brunch and flowers.  Or maybe in addition to.  I do love brunch and flowers. :)

This year, we kept things pretty simple.  I woke up to a lovely bouquet of flowers from the family.  We trekked over to St. Paul for my favorite brunch in the Twin Cities: Pizza Luce.  If you are listening Pizza Luce, bring the brunch to Minneapolis.  I enjoyed a free glass of wine with my Truly French Toast courtesy of Pizza Luce in honor of Mother’s Day.  Thank you!

Then we made our first use of the membership to the Minnesota Children’s Museum that my mom purchased for us.  Thanks, Mom!  Ladybug quite enjoyed herself.  She especially liked the Our World exhibit where she got to pretend to be various community workers, drive a bus (riding the bus is hardly a novelty for us), and be in a music video.  I am a huge believer in the importance of pretend play, so  it was great to let Ladybug run free in a big world of possibilities.  (Scholastic offers a few reasons for the importance of pretend play.) I’m looking forward to exploring the museum many more times during the course of our membership.

My wish for Mother’s Day was to see my little one have fun, and I did.  Thanks to everyone who made it possible.