Saturday, November 22, 2014

Play Update: October and November

I've never been one to track my children's play. Even when they were toddlers, their time of happy engagement in play was my time to get my own work done. Bad mom ignoring my kids, I know, but I've always been reluctant to distract their concentration or break the flow of their immersion in an activity--I'll even stay out of a room if I can hear them playing together with full concentration, because I know that my presence will bring them out of it.

I don't, therefore, collect many photos of the children at play, or what they're playing with, but if I happen to have my camera as I pass by I'll snap a photo, if I can do so without calling their attention to me, and sometimes I'm asked to photograph a completed project or film a skit in action. Here, then, is what I've happened to gather in the past month or so:
This is the Temple of Artemis. It's technically a project for Will's Minecraft Homeschool class, but if you saw her fussily trimming the plants in the Garden of Babylon that she built, or creating a Redstone-powered trap in the Pyramid of Ghiza that she also built, you'd know it's as much play as work.
Lately, both kids have been VERY invested in building the tallest tower possible with their Kapla blocks.
She's done it! She's used up all the Kapla blocks, but both kids have been reluctant to add our large stores of other building blocks into this play. If this keeps up, it's possible that Santa might bring the kids another BIG set of Kapla blocks for Christmas...
I believe this slime and dino set is a souvenir from La Brea Tar Pits gift shop? I've found it all over the house, including once IN. MY. BED.
Syd plays with her dolls every day. Most often she'll make outfits for them (sticky-backed Velcro is WONDERFUL as a kid-made doll-clothing fastener, in case you're interested), but on this day I found these dolls dressed in the, like, two actual Barbie outfits that we own, but matched to our color viewers. I never did find out what the game had involved.
 Will made this plaster of Paris volcano FOUR YEARS ago, and they still play with it often. On this day I'd just taken a delivery of some liquid watercolors that I'd ordered, and the kids immediately commandeered the neon red, fetched all the baking soda and vinegar volcano supplies, and happily made neon red volcano messes at the kitchen counter all morning. At some point I was called in to film this skit they'd been repeating, and finding super hilarious, for many, many rounds of play:
When I unpacked this room, I had Matt move in that shallow set of shelves from the garage, and I've been using it as open storage for the children's toy animals. The whole set is filled when they're all properly put away, so you can see at a glance how many animals the kids had scattered around in play in this room! I don't know how the Geomags were involved--animal cages, perhaps? Zoo?
For Christmas this year, my primary gifts to the children are going to be expansions to some of the open-ended toys that they love the most (this set of Kapla blocks, I think, and theseand these Geomags). Matt, I think, plans to buy them an actual decent computer, because their lack of one, and the resultant difficulty that they've been having connecting to online classes and Minecraft Homeschool servers, and using online reference sources, and working with graphic design and composition programs, is affecting the efficiency of our school days.

The stockings will need to be stuffed, however, and probably with a few more small things than the alarm clock and stock certificates and flash card sets and tools that are already set aside for them. If you've got any good ideas for small, open-ended playthings suitable for upper elementary kids who absolutely are not tweens and absolutely do still play like mad, I'd love to hear them!


Tina said...

I love to watch Emma when she is immersed in her playing. I feel like it doesn't happen often enough lately and I think it might be because our house is too big (yes I did just say that). When we lived in the 530 sq ft house she played ALL day, happy as a clam knowing that I was almost within arms reach. Our new house has us so spread out that we are still trying to adjust to being so far from each other.

That being said, now that we have the space, I am going to look at some of those open ended playthings you mentioned. We absolutely need another set of blocks or some other building medium.

What other suggestions do you have for bigger play things?

As far as the small play things- marbles, sea shells, little LEGO packs, packets of beads or other crafting materials? I really suck at figuring out what to put in stockings. I think I remember somewhere in my past someone always put fruit and popcorn balls in the stockings.

Tina said...

What set of the Kapla blocks do you have now?

julie said...

Ooh, LEGO packs--definitely! Hot Wheels, definitely, and definitely an orange. Maybe a couple of Girl Scout badges, and definitely their one-year pins. I'll have to just keep an eye out, because we've also had great luck catching pre-Christmas sales on things like Hexbug Nano and Schleich toys, which of course the kids also LOVE.

Oh, we have the 200-piece set of Kapla blocks currently:

It was plenty to suit us in our small house, but now that we're getting used to spreading out, I can't wait to see what the kids come up with when I buy them a second, giant set!

julie said...

Oh, and bigger playthings! Syd likes her doll houses, but they are space hogs, and you can't really pack them up and hide them away when she's not playing with them.

We've got sets of Hot Wheels tracks and Darda tracks and a LEGO train set--the kids LOVE building tracks and racing vehicles. It's also good physics.

Remote-controlled vehicles are also fun in bigger spaces. The kids have a remote-controlled truck, a dune buggy thing that Will bought at Disney World, a remote-controlled helicopter, and a remote-controlled snake that Will bought Syd for Christmas last year. They play with them indoors and out.

Tina said...

Oh, I love the idea of remote control cars and some sort of race track. That is something I can get as a gift for Jared and Emma. And a LEGO train track sounds awesome...

Do the girls have any Micro Machines? I don't think they make them any more but we have Jared's old set. A track for those would be fun too.

My mother-in-law has all of Jared's old Brio trains. Maybe I should have her send those down.

I think Jared and I are going to need a date night soon to go toy shopping :0) Thanks for all the suggestions!


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