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!