"Look! I found a treasure chest!" was the drawing prompt I gave to Griffin yesterday. He drew a treasure chest on a beach with the sun in the sky. The chest was filled with orange triangles. When I asked him to tell me what was inside the chest he gleefully shouted "Pizza!"
Today's kindergarten is totally different from the one I remember. My kindergarten was filled with imagination. We had dress up clothes- my favorite was the gray "mink" stole and the pearl earrings. There was an area of the room with a kitchen, couch, chair and baby bassinet scaled down to our size for playing house. In the corner was the clay crock. I loved the smell of the clay crock. It was this large ceramic crock with a heavy lid that was filled with this awesome off white modeling clay. On the other side of the room was a huge assortment of wooden blocks in so many shapes and sizes. You could really build a castle with those blocks! It wasn't all play time but studies have proven that when a child is engaged in play they are learning.
Kindergarten isn't like that anymore. Creativity and imagination are like muscles- you don't use them you lose them. Experts are acknowledging that the loss of creative play is having some negative consequences. Kids who are involved with plenty of self-directed creative play develop better abilities to regulate their own behaviors and emotions, compared to other children. Creative play gives kids a chance to practice policing themselves.
After floundering about the past 8 weeks with my class of 5-6 year olds I have decided to introduce these kids back into the world of imagination. Where they can create any world they wish with a pencil and paper, paint and glue. In this class it's not about the product- it is the process. I am purchasing some awesome off white modeling clay so we can create sculptures during free time. If I had a bigger room we'd have an area for dress up and we'd put on some plays. I think I need to do some of this with my 7-8 year olds too. I have too many who rush through their work and never really become engaged in their drawing.
We need more treasure chests filled with pizza!