from the life of a teacher

My Connections to Play July 22, 2011

“Creative play is like a spring that bubbles up from deep within a child.”  Joan Almon

“Play, while it cannot change the external realities of children’s lives, can be a vehicle for children to explore and enjoy their differences and similarities and to create, even for a brief time, a more just world where everyone is an equal and valued participant.” Patricia G. Ramsey

Essential play items for my younger self

Play encompasses some of my best memories in life. I remember spending hours and hours in my “playroom” pretending to cook and take care of my “baby”. I took what I learned from watching my mom and transformed myself into her through play. I lived for playing as if I were a wife and mother. I honestly thing that is where I began growing the love for cooking that I have so strongly today. My family was always very encouraging in my creative play. They were always more than willing to “eat”my baking experiments and babysit my baby for a few minutes while I “ran errands.” I was always encouraged to play and try new things. Whether it was playing house, or pretending to be a teacher, or even playing the student so my sister could be the teacher I spent so much time in play.  I can remember feeling bored during summer vacation and my mom would quickly help me brainstorm things to do. Whether it was pretending leaves were boats and having boat races by the flooded curbs, making mud pies, using glue and flour to make snow filled leaves, or pretending I was a spy and hiding behind the mailbox to record the license plates of every car that drove by – I lived to play. I am thankful my parents encouraged me to explore the world around me and when I thought I had explored it all – they helped me think of new ways to do so.

Now when I look at how children play I see some similiarities and some differences. When observing children play in during free time in my classroom I see similiarities through the girls playing play dough and making cookies,  or pretending to be the teacher and the boys playing dinosaurs, or building block cities. Yet, I find some children have a difficult time playing when not given tools to use to develop creative play. Some children spend large amounts of time playing video games and therefore have trouble identifying what is realistic or fantasy. I have observed two or three children who struggled with creative play outside of the realm of video games.  I also find that play is not considered as important today. Instead extra curricular activities such as sports or dance take the place of creative play. My hope for young children is that they will be given the opportunity to explore creative play to the fullest. One day they will grow up and so for the time being they should be given the gift of childhood. And within this gift is the beauty of play.

            The role of play is a huge one for childhood. Children make meaning through play. They learn about the world around them. Through play children explore life outside of set boundaries. They make the impossible possible and life becomes fair. Friedrich Nietzsche says “In every real man a child is hidden that wants to play.” In all adults there is a hidden child thirsting to play. Although in adulthood it gets pushed back and put within boundaries, that thirst is still there. Play just takes on different forms in adulthood. It can be through intimate relationships, through a new hair cut or outfit to role play someone a little different, or through roughhousing with the guys. It still exist just in different forms. Play is a part of everyone. 


4 Responses to “My Connections to Play”

  1. Teri Peasley Says:


    I can also remember playing house or school as a child. I loved being the teacher and always made my brother be the student..he was younger of course! I knew better than to tell my mother I was bored. If I did, I would end up with a chore list I could never complete!

    I am sad for today’s children that they don’t often get to have the same kinds of experiences we had a children.

  2. Caitlyn Says:


    As a child I played outside a lot. Whether it was biking around the neighborhood with my best friend, or just playing in my front yard, we were always outside. Through all these experiences I could have been considered the “bossy one.” We were always playing house and I was often playing the role of a teacher and my best friend was my student. As you mentioned, perhaps your love for cooking came from your play experiences in the kitchen. Perhaps my love for teaching came from my play experiences as well!


  3. louann8791 Says:

    Hi Amy:

    I enjoyed reading your blog this week. I often swung between ‘tomboy’ play and make-believe games of ‘house’ and ‘school.’ I have vivid memory of my dolls and even dressing my poor Poodle in doll clothes. Why he tolerated it and the buggy rides, I do not know. He was not know for being a docile dog, except for with me. My favorite housekeeping toy was my Easy Bake Oven and making actual cookies and cakes for my family.

    It is interesting to read that your students struggle with creative play when they do not have ready made tools. I can also remember spending hours making games and tools out of items in nature. Heuristic play was natural and not something that had to be offered to us by teachers and other adults. Now, it has become the buzzword in our area with trainings being developed for our infant & toddler teachers to add heuristic play to their classroom.

    LouAnn Rhodes

    • I also made cookies and cakes 🙂 I think that has a lot to do with my love for baking now. During the summer and breaks off from school I enjoy diving into baking large amounts of cookies and cakes and other yummy desserts! I try to find ways to bake in the classroom 🙂

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