We started by having kids make "nametags" by writing their name on a full sheet of paper, then hanging that paper on a clothesline (hooray for fine-motor pincer practice, a pre-writing skill!). (also, shout-out of thanks to Holly Storck-Post for this clothesline idea. I love brainstorming with you!)
Then I started the program with a song that I changed the lyrics slightly to fit the program and a brief explanation of AnjiPlay and some photos from my trip to China. We went over the "5 rules for adults" (Hands down, Mouth closed, eyes open, ears open, heart open) then I reminded everyone that at the end of play, they should draw a play story on the same sheet of paper that they clipped to the clothesline and then.... we started the play!
In one area of the room, we had some rocks, water and paintbrushes. The kids quickly realized that water added to the dried paint on my art tables makes a passable watercolor paint which is way more fun to paint on the rocks than just plain old water. Now I kinda want to paint my tables on purpose.... stay tuned to see if/when that happens!
In another area of the room, we had blocks! Many things were built, but I think my favorite builder was this little one who built many, many tall towers and tried a number of different techniques to make his structures as tall as possible.
Watch here as he fortifies his tower by building two side-by-side. When he laid the block that actually connected them together, he stepped back and made an "I did it!" gesture (unfortunately, he stepped off-camera, so I didn't catch that!). Loved seeing this sense of understanding and accomplishment!
I also loved hearing him "think out loud" in the video below!
This older sibling participant delighted all of the younger kids when she grabbed the wading pool (which had been full of scarves and balls for babies), emptied it, and turned it into a roof for a "house" between the two block carts.
The play stories this week were largely captioned by parents and showed a lot of kids trying out ALL of the activities. I'm curious to see what they'll gravitate towards in Week 2.....
Overall, I was super impressed with the adults this week and their willingness to step back and let their kids take the lead in play. This balancing act of letting kids lead is really tricky to get right and I look forward to experimenting with the parents who attend these programs as we find out the best way to walk that fine line.