For weeks my ladies have been deep in the play of building complex communities for their various toys. They have intricately constructed and designed rooms within homes (i.e. kitchen with very small play dough food being prepared, bathrooms, living and bedrooms, garages etc.), a gas station, coffee shop, campground just to name a few). They have many methods of transportation including a train system (Nashville city officials take a note…)
Their resources are every possible type of toy that we have: traditional wooden blocks, regular and duplo Legos, GoldieBlox, play dough, silly putty, doll house furniture, toy trains, hot wheels, assorted other cars and trucks, my little ponies, shopkins, tsums tsums, barbies, doc mcstuffins toys, and various other small dolls and toys. These communities stretch across the whole house.
Discussions and arguments about how things are built and how to play are constant and sometime erupt in dramatic ways. The architect/engineers/designers sometimes have to take breaks when collaboration comes to an angry halt. Snug is learning that to be a leader, one must embrace individual creativity in those who are collaborators. If controlled too much or if spoken to in a disrespectful tone, Ity will “Godzilla” or “Incredible Hulk” destroy Snug’s intricately built city. Snug is learning how to negotiate and sell her ideas to Ity in a way that respects her while also guiding her toward a mutually productive end. And Ity’s imagination is exploding through her play with Snug. It is pure delight to spend my days observing this brilliant self-directed learning through deep play.
They wake up every morning and get right to the business of this intense play. They spend hours deep in it, breaking occasionally, but then deep diving right back to it. We have begun pushing back bedtime a bit because they are so intensely into this world they are creating. This is the magic of free play. It is everything I believed it would be. I am grateful every day that I can allow my children to live this childhood. And because I believe in this so deeply, I’m founding a school in my community based on The Sudbury Valley School that will allow for children of all ages to do this in community in a democratic environment.
All is bright in my world today and these children are learning lessons and developing skills that will change the world for better. And in this day and age, we sure do need a whole heap of “for the better” don’t we?