Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Learning Through Play

It never ceases to amaze me how, to a child, the whole world is an adventure playground and the most mundane and ordinary of objects can become wondrous treasures through their eyes. Watching children play is a joy. Seeing them making discoveries and learning through the completely natural process of play is a beautiful thing to witness.

My daughter, not yet three years old, has developed a recent interest in letters and writing. She shows a strong preference for her left hand which I know, through experience, can make things more difficult. I like to make sure she always has access to writing materials, although she will happily find them for herself if I am neglectful.

A door becomes a blank canvas to a little artist

I gave her an educational early reading and writing Activity Set to see if it interested her. It came with little foam letters, letter stencils and a variety of exercises in a pad. I was amazed to see her immediately begin matching the foam letters to the corresponding letters on the stencil. She didn't know she was doing anything clever. She was just playing.

She was happy entertaining herself but was even more delighted to share her game with me. Her little face lit up as she passed me a letter and declared it to be "Mimi's turn". Sometimes the distractions of my other children, the household chores and blogging (to name a few) mean I  don't spend as much quality time with my daughter as I'd like. It is so important to achieve a balance and that is something I continually strive for.

My daughter's attention turned away from the matching game as she investigated the writing implements. Unfortunately from a mess point of view, the thick felt tipped black pen was far more interesting to her than the coloured pencils. Luckily for her, I am not afraid of a bit of mess. I think it is so important for learning through play to have freedom. If uninhibited actions equate to the necessity for a big post play clear up - so be it. It is a small price to pay.

A first adventure with paint

The black pen made satisfyingly thick marks that contrasted strongly against the white paper. She alternated between carefully tracing different letter shapes, swirling and zigzagging and colouring in her own hands!

Fierce concentration

The Activity Set was clearly aimed at an older child and had detailed guidelines as to the proper use. I did for a moment consider taking it away from her until she was older and could obey the instructions but watching her flitting from page to page, delighting in new discoveries and totally engaged made me convinced that there was no better time than now. I watched her gain control over the pen through improved grip, I watched her immerse herself completely in the idea of writing, I watched her laugh and I watched her making the decisions in her head about what to do next.

It was a great learning experience.

She asked me for 'ticky tape'. It took me a while to realise exactly what it was she wanted. She had not learned the phrase sticky tape from me. It is quite possible that Cbeebies' Mr Maker may have been responsible but that belongs in a different (and more controversial) post entitled "Learning through Watching TV".

I gave her a roll of sticky tape and watched as she embarked on a game of discovery.

There are a great many toys on the market that boast of educational benefits to your developing child but sometimes all they need is a roll of sticky tape and a free rein!


  1. Such a lovely story! She seems to be excelling herself there ;o) I can't wait to do all that with Maya x

  2. We're just learning about pens over here the Fancy House. It's like Christmas everyday, finding new blue and black streaks across my leather sofa...


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