2.2 Play experiences within your setting
Aim: to begin to clarify what play experiences children have in your setting during the course of a session.
As an experienced practitioner, you will have an idea in your mind about what sorts of activities and experiences you would classify as play. Make notes during a session, or reflect on a recent session in your setting.
List the activities or experiences you feel were ‘play’. Try to be as specific as possible. Instead of writing ‘playing with cornflour and water’, or ‘playing with a geography simulation on the computer’, write down exactly what the children seemed to be doing: ‘exploring the texture and temperature of cornflour and water’, or ‘making decisions about where a village could be sited on an imaginary island so that its inhabitants could thrive’.
List the activities that most of the children appear to enjoy, but you would not classify as ‘play’.
List activities that you would count as ‘work’.
Look at the lists you have made and put an asterisk by any that you thought some or all of the children did not enjoy, seemed to be stressful, or included an element of frustration.
Look again at your lists. Have you used the same word or combination of words frequently? One student, for example, found that the word ‘explore’ cropped up frequently in her notes. Another noticed that he repeatedly used the word ‘active’. From looking at your lists and thinking carefully about the way you have described the activities, write a short definition of what play means to you.