In 2010, after many years as a nursery school teacher in NYC, I created a program called playAGAIN. PlayAGAIN is based on the importance of free unstructured play for a child's development and social/emotional well-being.
The name playAGAIN comes from several tenets:
Young children love, need, to repeat and revisit their experiences. It's how they learn to interpret the world, experience joy, develop theories, and form a sense of self.
I wanted to highlight recycled materials and offer the space and time to explore them freely. By actively and concretely weaving recycling into our children's experience, we can provide them with the beginning of a lifelong thoughtfulness when it comes to the environment (as well as any other important challenges). Children are endlessly resourceful, creative, and appreciate feeling impactful.
Everyday repurposed materials are readily available, affordable and can be replaced, there is no need to buy anything special.
These materials are inclusive; children anywhere and everywhere can take part. Open ended recycled materials allow for individual choice and can be used in countless ways, so children feel competent, challenged, and inspired.
Familiar, everyday items can be mixed and matched, used and reused, and adapted for children of all ages and abilities.
They vary from home to home, but the premise is consistent: The simple materials in our home can help fuel sibling play, avert meltdowns, inspire resourcefulness, celebrate the small moments.
My program BookPLAY was born from the same ideas.
I love reading with children.
I think about what draws them in and keeps them engaged:
Captivating illustrations, yes. Dynamic language, yes. Appropriate length and text, yes. Rhythm, rhyme, pacing, yes, yes, yes.
Where you read, how you read, when you read. It all matters.
But the story doesn't have to end just because the book does.
How do you extend the book beyond the pages?
Adults join book groups to revisit a narrative, explore characters, discuss plot twists and imagery. Why can't children do that also? Even children as young as two years old! Perhaps you focus on the shape of the book? Or the weight of the book? Or the colors and shapes found in the illustrations.
BookPLAY incorporates playAGAIN tenets to bring picture books to life and the hope of developing lasting, loving, playful relationships with books.
Here are 20 ways you can implement this at home using what you already have.
It takes a village!
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