“To be a play leader for children, one must master play for oneself. Adults are capable players
with words, with materials, and with their bodies; adult education should foster the disposition to
play with possibilities rather than follow a learned script. Questions that don’t have a right
answer, that encourage divergent thinking and story sharing, are the most powerful in
encouraging adults to construct knowledge for themselves. Knowledge not owned by the
knower is unlikely to find its way into her work site.
Play with Bodies
Adults need to play some active, silly games with each other – to loosen up their thinking and
their bodies, to share their fears. Here’s Catch.
Stand in a circle. I’m going to throw this bean bag to one of you. You throw it to someone
else, and so on. When everyone has gotten it, throw it back to me. Remember the pattern – who
threw it to you, who you threw it to.
OK, it’s back to me. Let’s do it again. Remember the pattern.
I’m starting again. Whatever happens, remember the pattern. [And soon after the bean bag is
making its rounds again, I pull a stuffed monkey out of the big bag at my feet and throw that, still
in the pattern. There are gasps of surprise. That goes on for a bit, and then I produce another
object, and another and another – a stuffed frog, a small pillow, a sock stuffed with another sock,
a ball, a plastic measuring cup, a stuffed turtle, a short string of big plastic beads, a soft slipper –
maybe more. When chaos reigns, I stop.]
Toss everything back into the middle of the circle. What kind of experience was that for you?
How did you feel? Did you learn anything?
Physically active play makes new kinds of connections in a group of learners. For a few, it
brings up fears. (“I can’t stand having things coming at me,” “I got really scared when you kept
saying ‘Don’t forget the pattern.’ It felt like a test or something.”) For some, it’s pure fun and
laughter. For some, those who have trouble sitting still for long, it’s a physical release. Do
children have all these different experiences, too, when we have them play organized games, and
even when they’re inventing their own play? Food for thought.”
- Richard Jeter, Early Childhood Today
By: Lili Foster - Readings, Ideas Books and Websites