Archive of ‘Play-based Learning’ category

Playful, Natural, Nourishing

I originally typed this letter up to share with the families in my play school, but thought that I would post my reflections here as well.

————————————————————————————————————————-

Since you are entrusting me with a piece of your week and your child’s development, I wanted to take a moment to share my heart with you.

My husband and I have talked at length about what we want to do to help our children learn and grow. We keep coming back to the same three words. 

Playful. 

Natural.

Nourishing. 

Playful. Children learn through play. It’s their most important work. We intend to allow our children time to play throughout their childhood. 

Natural. We feel that we are grounded by nature and seasons. Fresh air is good for the soul. Following a child’s natural strengths is one of the greatest gifts we can offer. 

Nourishing. Our bodies, souls and minds need consistent and constant nourishing. Our food is eaten with intention around our family table. We believe that literature and family stories should mindfully fill our days. 

As a mom, my heart is telling me to lean into the movement of embracing the simplicity of childhood. To us, this means that we are very intentional about what enters our home, including toys and learning resources. We minimize screen time and try to fill our media intake with people that inspire and encourage us. We say no to opportunities and experiences daily in order to keep simplicity in our lives. 

This all being said, we do believe in intentionally teaching children. Our daughter’s gift is language. She devours books, is an adventurous talker and is curious about how letters and words work. It’s just her gift. And, as I mentioned, following our childrens’ lead on their natural gifts is one of our home pillars. 

But want to hear the truth? I haven’t fully embraced the letter component part of this gift to the capacity that I could yet. I love researching and find learning about learning methodology fascinating. We tend to lean towards Charlotte Mason and Waldorf style with a strong dose of child led learning. Charlotte Mason and Rudolf Steiner felt very strongly about not starting academics and formal learning until the child is at least six. Their reasoning is strong and in general, I think there are many years for teaching more formally as the child’s brain develops and matures. I’ve mulled over this, pondered how these thoughts mix with my formal teacher training, pushed myself to think about my own childhood education and came up with this word. 

Trust. 

I am choosing to trust my instincts. While I don’t plan to do any formal schooling for a few more years, we do intend to plan out or days a bit in the fall. We will be using The Peaceful Preschool as a very loose guide to our days. I am so thankful for the community that this curriculum has created as well as the Wild+Free community for their guidance. I will gently introduce the letters of the alphabet, week by week, with weeks crossed out for review and child led interests. We will be picking and choosing what activities we do from this beautiful curriculum, saving the more advanced and formal lessons for the next couple years. 

I also trusted my instincts on something else that begins in the fall. I have started Roots+Wings Playschool, a cooperative learning group that is designed for toddler and preschool families. It is organized like a mom and me call and is centered around literacy and sensory rich experiences. My intention is to homeschool our children, but this once a week, plus weekly field trip, is a great balance to this style of educating. It gives us a chance to learn alongside other families and connects us to new experiences. 

Not to mention it’s playful, natural and nourishing. 

Wherever you are on this parenting journey, I encourage you to trust yourself.  Be your child’s roots and wings and lean into the beautiful community of people around you. And since your reading this, please know that I am beyond grateful to have you in my community. Truly, thank you. 

Roaring Through The Week

Dinosaurs have been a major interest for our year old. In fact, she had a loose dinosaur theme to her birthday last week.

It all started when this minimal media child was allowed to watch a movie. After looking through netflix my husband and I decided that we would allow her to watch Land Before Time(the new one). Well, let’s just say she loved it and has been dinosaur crazed ever since.

I often done little play-based themes for our weeks in the past but now that she is older, these themed weeks are getting more and more fun, especially when it totally child-interest driven. Below is a photo summary of our activities.

(Dinosaur land, or as my daughter calls it “The Great Valley”)

(We created this simple dinosaur playspace for her for her birthday. Take a short, but large planter. Pop holes in the bottom. Add some rocks for terrain. Put in some branches and leaves. It has given her hours of fantasy play already.)(Sometimes dinosaurs need a bath… )(….or to go “swimming in the pool”)(Then the play may evolve into having a dinosaur tea party)(Which may turn into a dinosaur song and dance show. We like the 5 Little Dinosaur one from here and the major favorite here(We did a simple track painting)

(Melissa and Doug’s DInosaur puzzle is great. We use these puzzles more as play sets than puzzles after the first week. I usually just let the play evolve with puzzle pieces. We also like puzzle to book matching like this photo)

(Melissa & Doug rocks the dinosaur materials… their stamp set is great. This large stamp pad is a game changer!)

(Our theme book library. I do this little set up for all of our book themes. She gets so excited when she walks out to find a new theme set up…. every couple week. This fall, it will change ever 1-2 weeks through as we work our way through The Peaceful Preschool with Roots+Wings Playschool! Fun!)

(This volcano science experiment is perfect for toddler and preschoolers. Simply hollow out an apple, let them pour some baking soda in it. Then, let them poor some vinegar in. It’s short, everyday materials and super engaging for little learners.)

Since I don’t see this interest ceasing anytime soon.. hook me up with your favorite imaginary, sensory and play-based dinosaur ideas please!

 

 

Play Based Minimalism With Randi Tatsch

Our mission for our Interview Series is to hear from other moms that believe in play-based learning but also attracted to a minimalist lifestyle. To us, “play-based minimalism” is about believing that children should be given the opportunity to play in an environment that is designed for learning and imaginative play but free of physical and “commitment” clutter.

 

We are honored that Randi is willing to share with us about being a minimalist mom that encourages play-based learning. Randi is a mom to her little boys, Hudson and Jude. Her and her husband live intentionally and she has the joy of home pre schooling her boys. She cooks up some incredibly nourishing meals and has a beautiful Wild+Free style mom heart.

How has “play-based minimalism” helped you as a mom?
“It has made me a better mom since it has simplified our life. Clutter creates a drain on the senses. I feel less organized when there are tons of toys out. Embracing a minimal life style helps us feel happier in our home. My children spend the majority of their time at creative play. They are learning through play since they have less stuff competing for their attention. This carries over to other spaces. As a mom, I love how they can engage each other in imaginative play no matter what environment we are in.”
What is your philosophy of play?
“We play with natural materials as much as we can. My boys will turn sticks, rocks, leaves, and acorns into people. My oldest son gathers treasures on our backyard hikes. They spend their days in unstructured play so they can use their imaginations. They choose what to play with and I only step in if they have a disagreement. When I purchase new toys for them, I value quality over quantity.  I carefully consider the item before bringing it into our home. I try to focus on beautiful, functional or educational items. We have mostly wooden toys and books.”
 
What is your best piece of advice for parents designing their child’s play space or bedroom?
“I use Houzz and Pinterest, since I’m a visual learner. There are not many toys out in their room. Clutter creates an uneasy feeling so their rooms don’t have many items out. Most of their belongings are in the closet. However, a few beautiful and well loved toys and books are out. My boys fall asleep quickly and easily. Their room is a calm and pleasing space. I also designed it so that it will grow with them. There is a beautiful midcentury dresser, a queen size bed, a nice, inexpensive rug, and a bookshelf/desk.”

What is your favorite toy for young learners?
“My favorite toys spark imaginative play. My boys spend a great deal of time playing with their play kitchen. They also really love homemade play dough! “

What atmosphere does “play-based minimalism” create in your home? 
“When you focus on minimalism, you create a nurturing home. We spend quality time together. We come together as a family. We enjoy a daily rhythm of open play, reading, connection, and nourishing meals. My children learn values since they clean up after themselves. It is a work in progress of course! Our boys share with each other very well. The toys we have around are such a nice quality that they should last a long time. We experience a relaxing, peaceful home. “
Follow along with Randi’s play-based minimalist life on Instagram  and show her some #playbasedminimalism love!

Extending Play: Water Balloons

I posted on my Instagram this week one simple thought:

    Play in itself is simple. The learning that happens within play is beautifully complex. 

This thought right here has been on my mind a lot lately. I have focused my recent energy on teaching and showing others how minimalism and play-based learning can go hand it hand. Not in the minimalist mindset of “only have 100 items”, but it the sense of bringing home and keeping only physical objects that serve a purpose or add a great deal of value to your life.

Please know that I am not for donating and purging all your toys and starting new. I am not for packing them all up to teach kids a lesson. I come from a reasonable place with my play-based minimalism.

By designing a home environment that has fewer toys, you are able to gracefully work on the habit of sustained attention and responsibility. More to come on the psychology of this in later posts.

One way that we are able to have fun-filled, learning days at home without a great deal of “teaching toys” is by extending the play with the toys that we have. I have started a blog series that will focus on extending play.

For today, I want to discuss something very simple:  Water Balloons with the focus of extending play.

This morning was our normal extraordinarily ordinary type, a bed headed child playing.

It started with the request for water balloons. Sure, why not!

We filled the balloons up. Some we filled up with all water. Some we blew a little air on top of the water.

We also got out two bins: her blue bin and red wagon. I filled the blue one with water and left the wagon empty.  She spent time moving the balloons back and forth between the bins.

When I noticed her attention was drifting but I wanted to work on the habit of sustained attention, I pulled out some sorting cups and simply rested a balloon in it. I didn’t speak any words during this demonstration, but she saw my action. Soon she was filling the other cups with balloons and talking about them “fitting” and “falling”.

This then turned into her dipping the stacking cups in the water and watering her balloons and practicing dumping her cups. This then led back into sorting the balloons back and forth between the bins and a sing-a-long of Bumping Up and Down.

Play-Based Skills

Language: Full or Empty? Big or Small?

Cognitive Skills: Sorting, Colors, Cause and Effect, Will it fit?

Physical: scooping, dumping, dropping, throwing, pulling (wagon), stacking

 

1 2 3 4 5 8