Monday, September 28, 2015

How do your Kids Play?

What is play?  Play is when you engage in an activity for enjoyment and recreation instead of a serious or practical purpose.

What is Structured Play? Structured Play is when play follows certain rules like for example when playing sports, putting together a puzzle or playing board games.

What is Unstructured Play? Unstructured Play is building blocks, drawing, dramatic play or make believe.

In the definition for "what is play" the word that jumped out to me was "enjoyment."  I believe that play should be enjoyed by the person(s) playing.  I believe that when children play with children that the play is being enjoyed by both.  Of course the normal squabbles might occur but for the most part play is mutually being enjoyed.  I know from personal experience that I have played with my children many times because I felt I needed to and not necessarily because I wanted to.  Please don't misunderstand I LOVE playing with my children and will continue too.  However, I have learned through the years to only play when the play is being enjoyed by both sides equaling good quality playtime, whether structured or unstructured.

 Personally, I try to steer clear of playing dramatic play or make believe.  I opt to play board games, basketball or arts and crafts, simply because I find that these types of activities are most enjoyed by both me and  my children.  In my opinion, their is not a 'one size fits all' kind of play.  Families and children are different and finding out which type of play works best for your family is  the key.

 Although I feel parents/adults playing with children is important and creates a bond I also feel it's just as important that a child be left to play by themselves.  Playing alone builds self confidence, independence and imagination.  It helps the child realize they can play alone or in groups and be fine either way.  Most importantly, play should always be fun and enjoyed by all who are engaging in it.

 Here's a saying I like: "Play to Learn and Learn to Play."  Meaning; when your child is learning whether with numbers or letters or whatever your child is working on that the learning time can be and should be fun time/playtime. I home schooled my daughter for preschool and I found that she did not work well sitting down with a worksheet or workbook to learn.  Instead, she learned better when I turned learning into a game.  For example, when we were learning number identification I took learning outdoors to our driveway.  Using some chalk I wrote a bunch of random numbers and had my daughter pedal her bike to the number that I called out.  She loved it, was learning and using gross motor skills at the same time!  She was playing AND learning at the same time!

The above is just one example of how a child can "Play to Learn."

And.... "Learn to Play" is simply that - just take the time to figure out what kind of play you and your child enjoy most and "Learn to Play", that way!

However or whatever you play ALWAYS have fun!

A quote from one of my favorite educators and tv personalities, Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers) 
Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.

I am happy to be a part of a series all about Play Matters being hosted by Encourage Play.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Ways to Display Lego Minifigures

Do you have a child who loves Lego's

Do they like to build the Lego kits or go straight for the minifigures?

At our house we have both types of Lego lovers.  My 10 year old son is not a huge fan of building the kits so after ripping open a box he will go straight for those little men!  He'd rather take those minifigures, some random Lego blocks and create his own scene.  We have since stopped buying the kits and opt for just the blocks and figures.

My 5 year old daughter is kind of lover of both.  Unlike my son, she will sit tight building a Lego kit no matter how long it takes - she is rather determined!  She also likes the minifigures but just not as much as her big brother.

And then there are those Lego surprise packs.  Each pack has one minfigure but you never know which one you'll get.  My husband is obsessed with them and can't help but picking up packs of  them especially when a new series comes out.  We fill Christmas stockings and Easter baskets with them and the kids are always super excited to see which figure they got.

This is all fine and dandy but what is one to do when the minifigures become too much?

Here are some ideas from ones we use and a couple of others from around the web:

We love yard sales!  My husband picked up a brand new, still sealed shot glass display case for $2!  You might be asking yourself, what does that have to do with Lego's?  Everything!  This case was PERFECT for displaying my son's collection of Lego minifigures.  A bonus with this case is that he can easily open the door and switch out which figures he wants to display.  We also made it clear that the figures in the case are his 'special' ones and totally off base when friends come to play.

Another favorite in our house is this Lego stand. A few years back I purchased this on Ebay and it has worked great.  We actually keep ours on the kitchen table only because the kitchen is our 'go to' room in the house for almost everything.  My son just plopps down at the table and moves the figures around, makes scenes, creates get the idea.  I really didn't like having toys at the table but it's where his creativity seemed to come alive.......

I wish I still had the Ebay info to share but I don't, sadly.  It is a DIY stand so with some thought I'm confident something similar can be pulled off!

Here are a couple of other ideas from around the web:

I really like this idea from Sarah M Style who simply uses a clipboard and a few other items you probably don't have to run out for.

Another favorite comes from Our Nerd Home who refurbishes an old picture frame into a very cool almost vintage looking display for their minifigures!

Geek Home Decor - DIY LEGO Minifigure Display

For more Lego ideas, check out our Lego Pinterest board.