Make Room For Play

The other day I was chatting with one of our maintenance workers after school. He passed a comment about children and how they play.

“Kids just don’t use their imagination anymore, you know? They’re always playing video games.”

I thought about his comment and could certainly understand why he felt that way. I think many people believe this about today’s children. I also think people are not giving children, and imagination, the credit it deserves.

“Well, I’ll tell you,” I replied, “you should come down to the third grade wing. Our children adopted pets for Valentine’s Day and right now in our third grade classrooms, imagination is going wild!”

To catch you up on what I was referring to, last year I decided to do something fun with my class. I had been coming down a little tough on them (they were that class!) and I decided they needed a change. So I bought a bunch of little stuffed animals and let them each adopt one.

BIG HIT! Such a big hit that I decided to do it again this year. And I encouraged my colleagues to join me. So on Valentine’s Day, all of the third grade children adopted a pet. Once again, this was a big hit. But you see, the fun doesn’t stop there. Each class, in its own way, slowly creates an entire class culture surrounding these pets. Creativity abounds. And the playing begins!

You see, children still have great imaginations. They just need some time, space, and friends to practice with. They have been building homes, stores, schools, and play yards for their pets. They initiate play dates (but not on school nights!), make things for each other (I made you a new class folder for your pet), and in one class they had a wedding. This pet world has become an underlying creative endeavor that is completely initiated and maintained by children. There is no adult intervention other than hearing the delightful stories.

Our classroom is a little messier because of it and a whole lot happier!

Star’s bedroom, complete with gaming console and very large TV!
Josh’s pool store. He takes orders!
This pet yard includes a feeding station!
Camping (or maybe Glamping) with a pool and a hot tub! Bring your friends!

8 thoughts on “Make Room For Play

  1. This is so incredible and I didn’t realize the incredible power and potential of this until I saw the pictures – every skill in the curriculum can be connected to this one idea! I’d love to do something like this with high school students but need to get my own imagination going to see how it could work. Thank you for sharing (and the “Glamping” at the end made me laugh!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Isn’t this wonderful! I can’t imagine a child at any age that wouldn’t love this, and even more so for those who desperately want a pet and don’t have one yet! I love this endeavor and the constructions surrounding it. So cool! I imagine they think about their pets all the time, in and out of school. Thank you for sharing this in such an uplifting blog. We could all use that just about now. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I LOVE THIS. I used to have a BIG red bear in my room, affectionately named Berry. He had his own blog, published on my classroom door almost daily. He also dressed for holidays and special occassions. My favorite was, however, when children who were not always my reading/resource student came by to him. Always it was the students who needed the hugs but Beery always was ready.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my gosh, this is the best slice, and an amazingly brilliant idea! I love it so much that I wish I taught third graders so I could do it too. (I don’t think my sixth graders would be as enthusiastic, sadly.)


  5. I love this idea…and I know, like you do, that there is no lack of imagination in our young people! That idea of adopting a pet seems powerful…and productive in so many ways. I might have to steal that idea!


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