Monday, April 15, 2013

Play and Exploration Revisited

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This past summer I wrote a series called Early Grammar Stage Focus.  In it, I took a close look at the article 10 Things To Do With Your Child Before Age 10  from Trivium Pursuit and challenged myself to do better in the areas that they highlight.  It has been a few months, and school is in full swing, so I want to check back in and see how I have done in each of the areas.  Today's post brings me to the very last one in the series!  If you are interested in what you see, make sure to go back and read the earlier installments.

You can get this "10 things..." article plus SO much more information in the book Teaching the Trivium from the good people at Trivium Pursuit.

Today we are going to re-visit the subject of Play and Exploration.  If you didn't see the original post this past summer, or just need a refresher, take a minute to go read it first.

I wrote the first post on this topic at the end of last summer, right after my family moved into our first house (from a condo with no yard).  It was the perfect time to talk about Play and Exploration then, and it is the perfect time to revisit it right now!  Spring is here, summer is around the corner, and we are ready to get out and play!  Not that we haven't been planing and exploring all winter long, but nothing is quite as good as the summertime =)

The '10 Things' article I linked to above talks about giving your young children lots of time to play, mostly with tools they can use for creating and exploring.  It talks about traditional type toys (blocks, dress-up clothes, dolls, etc.) and how they are great because they foster creativity.  All of these types of toys and tools are so much better than the heaps of plastic, noise making, blinking toys I know we all have sitting around.  Those toys may be intriguing for a while, but they essentially do all the thinking for your child, leaving them nothing to do but stare.

Last time, I set a few goals I wanted to work towards.  They are listed here with an update as to how we have been doing:


  • Provide more tools for exploration
  • Make good toys accessible in the house
  • Drastically limit TV time (no more than 1/2 hour a day?)

I am happy to report that we have done well in all of these areas!  My son's birthday came shortly after that last post was written, I asked family members for things like a butterfly net, magnifying glass, bug catching jars, etc.  We got a ton of those great exploring type toys and my kids both loved them!

When we got everything settled into our new home, I wanted to make sure that good, quality toys were easily accessible for the children.  I also wanted to hide some of the bulk of the plastic, noisy type toys away =)  We kept essentially all of the books in the kids rooms, puzzles on the bookshelf along with scissors, glue, paper, stickers, etc. for creating, a game closet full of games for them to choose from, and some gender specific creative play toys in their room.  My son has lots of cars and trains along with a growing supply of legos.  My daughter has dress-up clothes, dolls, a play kitchen, and other role play type toys in her room.  We still have the rest of our toys, but they are in the basement.  The kids still go down any play with them, but not nearly as much as they play upstairs.  Most of their free time is spent building with Jenga blocks, making patterns with dominos, doing puzzles, reading books, drawing, etc.  I'm sure as the weather gets nicer, much of this free time will be spent outside.

We have been very purposeful about limiting TV/electronics time.  Both kids still really love it, but they are learning to not ask for it so much =)  Sometimes we slip back in to using those things more than we would like, but quickly get back on track because the kid's attitudes change so obviously when we do.  I honestly like to let them enjoy a TV show or a video game, but we find it usually isn't worth it except for short periods a time or two per week.

So, are you ready for summertime like we are?  How are you planning on fostering your children's creativity this summer?  Do you limit your kid's electronics time (or are mine the only ones who ask way too often?)

This post is a part of the following series:

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  1. That's a great idea to intentionally put some of the toys that require batteries, etc. in the basement. They can still play with them once in awhile, but may not come across them as often as if they were upstairs.

  2. This is a great idea for a series, and I'm enjoying it. We also limit screen time. We don't have a TV, but limit DVDs.

    1. Thank you! I really want to put the TV in the basement, too, but hesitate because my husband and I like to play video games sometimes at night for our entertainment/relaxing time and we enjoy being in the room. it is currently in. Maybe one day =)


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