|Fairy heart wands, - one for each member of the family. I was more peaceful 'after' we had cleaned up the mess from this particular project, however.|
Although most of my current 'online' time is now spent over at Moms With Apps, that doesn't mean that I've lost my analog sense of self. As a recent foray into the news media mentions, the goal (well, my goal) is for the digital platform to be a springboard for real-life activities, learning experiences, and conversations.
Here are some habits we've formed to encourage play in our family:
- TIME: "Let's Pretend" takes time. Rushing out right after school, five days a week, doesn't leave time for a jeweled parade of baby ponies (which is usually the case in our house). Choosing who is going to be which pony, decorating them with jewels, and then parading them around the house is at least a 60 to 120 minute affair.
- FRIENDS AND/OR SIBLINGS: Kids are like instant cake mixes. They are easy to get going when you just add water (i.e., more kids). My kids can be meandering around, and as soon as a friend comes over, BOOM, it's like a spark goes off and all of a sudden the easel is up with a full school room and bossy teacher at the helm.
- ART SUPPLIES: Easy to access art supplies that include 1) blank white paper, 2) bucket of markers, 3) tape on a sturdy dispenser, 4) scissors. Additions like glue, glitter, ribbons, envelopes, paper bags, boxes, stickers will be put to use as well. But 1 through 4 are mandatory.
- PROPS: Basically, anything in your house that a favorite set of characters can interact with. Let's see, I've seen shoe box lids, fabric, bowls, chop sticks, and Tupperware used for boats, cannons, blankets, and bedrooms. And as for the characters, I actually think it's OK to give your child access to multiple characters in a toy series. When my youngest first got into My Little Pony, I initially thought one or two ponies should be enough. Why was she asking for more? Didn't she appreciate what she had? Of course not! How can you play Goo Bandits with only two bad ponies? You need some good guys too, right? Sometimes, it does indeed take a village!
- FOOD: "Ouch, stop it!" is kid speak for "I'm hungry!". Get a good, healthy meal in your kids, and "Ouch, stop it!" usually turns back to "Let's pretend".