Tuesday, April 16, 2013

bring out the egg cartons!

An egg carton is simply not an egg carton to a child. It can be a boat, a spaceship,  a dragon, a habitat, and a treasure box. Cut it up and you can create caterpillars, owls, dragons, flowers, and seed pots. No, an egg carton is not simply an egg carton to a child.

I wear a lot of hats and some of them I think I wear better than others. One of them is as an observer of people, an observer of children. Lately I have observed a lot of something that prickles at my brain. Admittedly this is a bit of a peeve of mine so maybe it stands out more than other bits but I have seen far too many young children with their heads stopped over mom's cell phone or dad's tablet. I'm talking young children...toddlers even and I have to say please stop. Sure there are apps all over the place declaring their creativity but nothing is more creative than your child's very own noggin. Don't you remember digging in the dirt to create cities for ladybugs or moats for castles? Do you remember getting your hands on a stapler and creating your own books full of scribbles and scratches? Or how about using a flashlight as a microphone or an empty oatmeal container as a drum?

I know that our new days are filled with technology and I know it is important for our children to learn how to use it. I know we are busy and need tricks up our sleeves for distracting our children so we can run our errands and such but remember, our parents did it without. There are cultures all over the world that do it without. The best way for a a little brain to develop is to let it develop. On its own. In its own time. Children need to problem solve on their own. Thy need boredom. Absolutely need it so that they can get those neurons in the brain jumpin'.

At work, when I set up our outside play area for the children, I toss a lot of wildcards into the mix. I wonder what will they do with these pipe cleaners or these beads. What will these little pillows become? How will the children engage and will this be enough for their play time and learning this week. Every single day I am floored by their creativity. By the games they create around the oddest of objects. Dinosaur aren't just dinosaurs, they are a dinosaur family. Traffic cones become party hats, shredded paper becomes pom-poms, and pipe cleaners become airline tickets. A beaded necklace isn't just a necklace it is pirate's treasure or fairy coins, and a blanket becomes a shield or a fortress or a cape.

Before you pop a dvd into the television, or hand your kiddo your ipad, or set up a video game on the computer, why not hand them an egg carton, a roll of masking tape, and a handful of markers? Even the youngest tots can art up an egg carton with paint or washable markers. If there is one thing I have learned from working with children is that an egg carton is not simply an egg carton...it is a world of wonder.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more! I used to teach preschool and saw many great pretend situations. My favorite was when two children put the jewels from the dress up area into a pot and stirred them up as their soup. I can't wait to give my grandson some tape and an egg carton. I know he'll come up with something interesting.
    Thanks for reminding me to provide creative time when he visits me.