Nov 14, 2018

Anji Play: Recording the entire arc of play

Frequently, over the past three years, I've taken videos of play and then when I share them with the Anji Play professionals they tell me the video stopped too soon or doesn't show the whole arc of play.  While capturing the beginning of a particular arc can be hard to predict, sticking with it until the end is a skill that can be honed. What does that look like? The 20+ minute video above shows a whole arc -- from the first frustrated attempt (a lucky catch on my part) until at the end of the video, he's going back for more and saying, "This is fun!"  Yes, that took 20 minutes.  And yes, there were a few distractions for me during that time, but I am so glad that I stuck with it and got this one long video so that you can see how the play evolved.

Many times, parents, caregivers, staff and volunteers have agreed to get some video of kids playing, but everyone starts to feel nervous when the play that is being recorded begins to stretch longer than a minute, then longer than 3 minutes, then longer than 5 minutes.... are you going to run out of space on your mobile device? (maybe...) Are you going to be able to share this video with anyone or will it be stuck on your phone forever? (I recommend uploading it to Google Photos and then deleting it from your device, then you can share it with anyone.) Do you really have the patience to stick with this one instance of play when there's so many other interesting things going on?  What if you miss something else amazing?  After three years, I've learned that you just have to rely on other people to catch the other amazing things.  Sticking with one group of kids playing until they are "done" with that particular play allows you to observe more closely, notice nuance, find patterns when you watch the video and have a better sense of the abilities, interests and personalities of each of the children involved in this play. My final tip is that even if you THINK the play arc is complete, continue to record for a little bit longer.  I can't tell you how many times I've stopped recording RIGHT before the kid said or did something really meaningful or interesting.  I'm slowly learning to just keep it rolling a bit longer.

What do you notice in the video above?  How does watching it make you feel? What are the children actually doing? What are they saying? What has changed from the beginning of the video to the end and how did they get there?  Watch this with open ears, open eyes and an open heart.  If you find yourself wanting to step in and tell them how to solve this or to shout "good job!" realize that that is perhaps a natural urge, but also totally unnecessary for these kids.  What's the longest video you've ever captured?
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