Jan 31, 2017

AnjiPlayDate: Week 3, a snow day

Snowstorms change the dynamics of this indoor program!

School was cancelled today because of a snowstorm, but the library remained open and a few intrepid families showed up and had a great time at this week's Anji Play Date.  The group was both much younger than usual AND also included two school-age siblings that normally can't attend because they're in school  Attendance was also about half the usual and most people showed up later because of the bad roads, so we didn't start with our usual review of the previous week (at the beginning of the program only two parents and two kids, none of whom had attended Week 2) but just dived right in to the play.

The markers themselves were lots of fun this week.  I lost track of how many times they were dumped onto the floor!

 Even the marker bucket became a fun toy helmet!
 I believe this red rope designates a "sidewalk" here.
 Several young folks dressed up as "robots" with the cardboard tubes. This is one of their favorite ways to play with the pop-up tunnel if they're lucky enough to have it to themselves.
 Great balancing on this spool!
More great balancing and pathfinding on blocks (and a spool in the background):

A play story from this week:

Jan 24, 2017

Anji Play Date: Week 2

 Same materials, a few new kids, always fresh play.

Week 2 saw a continued interest in the clay.  There was stacking:

And whacking (I'd shown the video of last week's clay hammer at the beginning of today's event, so it's possible that this kiddo was inspired by that.  I loved his energetic banging on the table--he was definitely getting some full-body motion out of this play!)
 And last week's hammer turned into this week's popsicles!
 One of the older children who attended today made this clay person.  She described it to me and said that the top piece of clay was the person's face ("she has lots of eyes"), the rolls on top are her hair, the sticks on the side are her arms, the stick connecting the two pieces of clay is her neck, the second piece of clay is her chest and the other two sticks are her arms.  I was intrigued that the anatomy of this 3D person seems to follow developmentally the same trends that you see in children's drawings of people at this age.  Here's a nice blog post about the different stages in children's drawings.
There was also a little more action on the red tops this week.  I liked this innovation:
AnjiPlayDate #2 

Also, lots of piling and lining up:

AnjiPlayDate #2 
The blocks saw some excellent structures this week:
A "horsey"
AnjiPlayDate #2
Here's the play story about the scene above:

 see that toe?  It's JUST about to knock down this great tower of circles.  What a fun crash!
This artist chose to make drawings for his parents.
These kids found a way to have fun while doing the clean-up!  Having the kids clean up their own playthings is a very key part of Anji Play.  It affords opportunities for them to continue the play like this but also come up with ingenious ways of moving materials from one place to another, working together with other kids.

AnjiPlayDate #2  
The kids who are attending this event tend to be a bit younger than the 3-6 year old age range that Anji Play in China was created for.  Therefore, our Play Stories look a little different (see link above about children's development in art).  Here are a few from this week, some with dictated notes taken by parents.

 The picture below says, "My picture is itchy." which is what the artist had said, confounding her mom until she realized that she'd offered her daughter a sheet of "scratch paper."

Jan 17, 2017

Anji Play Date: the first one!

Indoor, self-determined play is surprisingly engaging!

Today was the first day of the new AnjiPlayDate program.  This is the same program I did a trial run of in December under the name Winter Wild Rumpus, but I thought I'd try this new name since more people around town seem to have heard of Anji Play now.  Interestingly, most of the people who attended today did NOT come to the Winter Wild Rumpuses and (also interestingly) the ages seemed to skew a little older than the kids who had attended the Winter Wild Rumpuses.  Granted, both of those facts may be due to the terrible "wintry mix" weather we were experiencing today, but I'll be curious to see who attends next week!

The one "big" change I made to the set-up was that instead of putting out rocks + water, I put out clay (plastilina) with some smaller wooden blocks (cylinders, triangles and wedges), some PVC pipes (short, 3" diameter) and some popsicle sticks.  The clay was very firm and not easy to work with, but the kids seemed to really love the challenge working with it (this is a form of "heavy work" and is awesome for kids' development, both physical and emotional).

 This young person was using his popsicle sticks like tweezers to pinch pieces of clay off the block.
 This player made a hammer and was rhythmically whacking the table over and over.
Anji Play Date, Jan 2017  
Stacks were satisfying to build because they blocks of clay were so heavy but they were also slightly lopsided and also a little bit sticky, all of which lead to interesting stacking potential.

Anji Play Date, Jan 2017
I think this was supposed to be a dumbbell?

Because a few homeschool kids attended who were a little on the older side (hooray!) we saw some really intricate building projects going on in the block area:

 (notice the step spool right outside the wall for ease of entry)

And I'm loving the board-across-two-spools action going on here!
More fun with spools (note the different ways different aged kids interact with this open-ended toy):
Anji Play Date, Jan 2017  
Stacking on top of the top:
 and swimming in scarves.
 Many parents were impressed that their kids were fully engaged for the full length of the program and many stayed through until the end.

One more minor change I made (from the Winter Wild Rumpus) was that instead of the single page for play stories, I brought back the mini-notebook format from the summer's Wild Rumpus program.  Each kid who comes in writes their name on the front of a notebook, then hangs the notebook on a clothesline along one of the walls.  At the end of class, they found their notebook and drew their "play story" or a picture of their play that day.

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