A special post by our amazing OT, Amanda Prine:
My favorite thing about play is how it evolves and shifts, grows and expands, right in the moment. One minute the floor is hot lava and you have to climb cushion to cushion to get across it without burning your feet, then suddenly in the next moment the couch has become a pirate ship heading to sea in search of lost treasure.
Let’s face it, kids come up with some great play schemes, but you know what they love the most? When YOU join in with the fun! This is where Tina Fey comes to the rescue. She wrote a very funny book, that is not for children, called Bossypants. Amidst some great stories about her childhood, being a woman in a male dominated field and her life in comedy, Tina talks about the rules of improvisation, or for future reference for us…PLAY.
The First Rule of Improvisation (PLAY) Is You Should Always Agree.
This does not mean when your preschooler says “we are eating cookies for dinner” that you should agree (unless you also want cookies for dinner). It means that when in play, if your preschooler holds out a stick and says “this is my magic wand” you become a believer. This is the basis for imagination and symbolic play. The paper towel roll becomes your telescope, your pet cat is the Ice Queen, the banana is a telephone, etc. You get the idea.
Tina’s Second Rule of Improvisation (PLAY) Is Not to Just Say Yes, But Say Yes, AND...
So, in our previous example, you not only commit to the idea that the stick is a wand, but you add to the scheme. Maybe you say “Let’s practice casting a spell.” or “We can turn that teddy bear into a dragon!”
The Third Rule of Improvisation (PLAY) is “Make Statements”; But Here At Walk, Talk, Play, We Want to Change This Rule to Also Add “Ask Questions.”
This is a great way to have your preschooler generate a new idea or to solve a problem. “How do I cross this river that appeared?” “Can you show me how to build a castle?” “What happens if your magic wand turns dad into a frog?”
Tina’s Last Rule is There Are No Mistakes, Only Opportunities.
I like to think of this as the “happy accidents” that happen along the way. Your child opens a bag of pom poms and they fly all over the room. You can turn the chore of cleaning up into a game. Maybe the kids are now human hungry hippos who need to collect pom poms for food or maybe you just pretend to be Cinderella and you get your kiddo a brush and dustpan. Either way, you have taught your kiddo, through play, that there are different ways to solve a problem, and sometimes it is even fun.
So get out there and have fun, be silly, and laugh at the absurd that happens along the way. And, read Tina Fey’s book Bossypants, just not as a bedtime story!
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