Here we are at the final day of this incredible series! I hope you have enjoyed following the 30 Days to Transform Your Play series as much as Kate and I have enjoyed sharing it!
My hope is that this series can continue to be a source of inspiration and information. I hope you continue to question, observe, reflect and to share! I’m so thankful for each of you who have shared posts and shared over on Facebook!
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Here’s what you can win!!:
For Australian and New Zealand readers:
A $AUD100 gift certificate from an incredible sponsor of Racheous – Lovable Learning Modern Teaching Aids, Australia’s largest supplier of educational resources – Yes, that’s right, $100 to spend on whatever you want!! How amazing is that?!
An art materials pack valued at over $AUD100 to restock your art cupboard – generously donated by Micador.
The pack includes:
- Watercolour Palette
- Easy Wash Paint – Metallic x 3 colours
- Easy Wash Paint – Fluoro x 3 colours
- Basics Chalk Pastels – Pack 12
- Visual Art Diary
- Soft Pastels- Pack 24
- Watercolour Paper
- Acrylic Paints
- Large Oil Pastels – Pack 24
Lori Pickert has very generously donated a second signed copy of her book; Project-based Homeschooling, for one lucky Australian/New Zealand reader. Thanks Lori!
For International Readers:
Now we couldn’t forget you guys, could we? Here’s what you could win:
A spot in Playful Learning’s tremendously inspiring Playful Learning Spaces e-course – valued at $US78. I’ve taken this course and really loved it. It’s packed full of inspiration. I know you will benefit greatly from it too!
A $US50 gift certificate from my lovely sponsor Children’s Wallet Cards (from So Awesome) generously donated by Marie-Claire Camp. We have all of these beautiful children’s wallet cards. They are such high quality and so much fun for pretend play and using in creative projects! I know you will love them!
A copy of Project-Based Homeschooling: Mentoring Self-Directed Learners generously donated by Lori Pickert – This book transformed the way I view learning. My copy is well thumbed through and frequently referenced. I know yours will soon be too. It is a truly inspiring and helpful book!
We told you it was an awesome giveaway! So, how do you win?
How to Enter: Simply answer the following question in the comments section of this post: Which post in this series had the greatest impact on your family, and why?
This giveaway is now closed and the winners have been notified via email. Thank you so much for your thoughtful and touching responses!
Conditions of Entry:
- You have two chances to win: one entry on An Everyday Story and one on Racheous.
- This is not a game of chance. The responses deemed most creative and most thoughtful will be chosen as the winners.
- The giveaway will run from 8:30pm AEST Wednesday April 30 to midnight AEST Wednesday May 7 – so you have a little time to think about your response.
- Each entry will require a valid email address – so we can email you to tell you you’ve won! The winners will have 48 hours from the time the giveaway closes to get in contact with myself or Kate Gribble from An Everyday Story.
- If the winners do not contact us within that time, the giveaway will be redrawn The judges decision is final. No correspondence will be entered in to.
- The products shown in the pictures may change slightly (paint colours are subject to availability).
Best of luck and thank you for following our 30 Days to Transform Your Play series!!
Alexandra Dunlop says
I only recently discovered your blog…just in time for the “30 Days to Transform Your Play” posts. I have to say it is difficult to pick just one post as I was inspired by them all and can certainly see the impact they are having, and will continue to have in my home. If I have to pick the one that resonated with me the most I would have to say it was Day 4, Identifying your child’s interests.
To explain how significantly this impacted on me as a parent and ultimately my son via my parenting during play I have to give you some background. Prior to the birth of my son I struggled with fertility problems for 8 years. I thought I would never have children and was incredibly envious of all the people around me who seemed to fall pregnant so easily. Finally it happened for me but due to complications during pregnancy and birth I am unable to have more children. I vowed that I give everything I could to my baby boy and be the best mum I possibly could be. My son is now 22 months and I have realised recently, and your posts have helped me in this realisation, that in my desire to give/do the best for my boy I have been overwhelming and smothering him. I have been bombarding him with all the great ideas I see on blogs and pinterest and I have forgotten to stop, take a step back, and really watch how HE plays and what HE is interested in. I am too quick to ‘show’ and ‘do’ for him when it comes to play. Your post has helped me to be conscious of this and as a result I am learning to step back and let my little boy be himself and let him lead me in his play via his interests.
This has been such a huge realisation for me and it has been just awesome and so rewarding to step back and see my little boy for who he really is.
The entire series has transformed our family & has literally been life changing, it has given us the confidence to homeschool! ‘Books to enhance play & art materials’ & ‘improving a play space’ were the most informative & inspiring from a new homeschool perspective. Thank you, it’s been really encouraging!
Without a doubt Day 23 and Keeping an Ideas book. I’m a, shall we say, “mature aged”, first time mum and very new to this whole way of learning and playing as it was not at all how I was raised. I distinctly remember toys being taken away from me because I wasn’t playing with them the way I was “supposed to.” I feel like my eyes have been opened to a new world. This may sound extreme but I am not exaggerating.
Learning about transforming your play has been akin to my days as a nursing student at university, when I started to really learn about the human body and biological chemistry and how we physically tick. I think that as we get older, we tend to not have these epiphanies in the same way as we do when we’re young, so this has been great for my family and I.
Journalling for reflection and taking notes of good ideas has been something I have done since I was in my 20’s. I know what a joy it can be and what a source of information and inspiration it can be for me, but for some reason, I just didn’t see it being something for children. I loved the information on how freeform it can be and how you can adapt it to your child’s development and style. I think the thing that really caught my eye was the gorgeous page of lines of scribble. I remember doing that myself as a small child when I wished I “could do running writing”. What a wonderful learning experience and a way to encourage reflection in their young minds.
My little one is still quite little and I think the poster style is more his thing, so that’s where we’ve started. It’s great because hubby can really see a lot of the things he misses. He can see how his son thinks. It’s all there. It’s helping me too. I don’t really consider myself a creative person, I’m more of a black and white kinda gal, but I can feel the colour creeping in I tell you!
I see a lot of the posts on here and I see many mums are much further ahead in this journey than I am, but I am so grateful that I’m at least on the road now. So, if I don’t win the fantastic prize, fair enough. This may not be the most creative answer to the question, but come see me in a few months because now that I’ve started, I can’t wait to see where our journey takes us. Thank you so very much! :)
I have enjoyed reading along for the month and as a result have made a lot of changes at our place – I’ve culled all the old (crappy, plastic) toys, considered very carefully and critically before buying new (open-ended) toys, implemented a toy rotation system (with much success – the kids are actually playing with the toys!), started incorporating mirrors into our play and activities, and paid more attention to setting up the kids’ play spaces. But the one small tip that I have picked up and run with – which has made a huge difference in our house – is BASKETS!! I scoured the op shops for an assortment of wicker baskets in different sizes and shapes. I bought big ones, small ones, coloured ones and handled ones. We now have baskets in every room of the house – baskets for books, baskets for blocks, baskets for craft supplies, baskets of duplo, a playdough basket, and a nature basket. I have gone basket crazy – but with good reason. They look great – no matter where they are in the house, toys look great in a nice basket! They are transportable – just pick up the art basket (with jar of textas, scissors, glue, tape, stickers, paper, and notebook) and you are good to create – whether it be downstairs, in the backyard, or down at the park! They make toy rotation a breeze – simply empty the baskets back into stackable containers for the toy cupboard and tip new toys into the baskets! They are inviting. They are accessible. They are movable. They can be individualised. I could wax lyrical about baskets all day. Seriously, they are THAT good. If you haven’t done it already – give baskets a go at your place. I bet you (and your kids) will love them too :)
Michelle Zuber says
It was hard for me to pinpoint just one post. Cull Toys was an obvious one, and Real Tools was another great one, and my kids now use quality tools that I would never have dreamed they had the maturity and control to master. Connecting With The Natural World was also important to us, and we have spent so much more time outside since that post!
However, the post that struck a chord deeply within my heart was on Pretend Play. I’ve enjoyed learning about all things Montessori for some time now.
I knew my eldest was an introvert, and that she had an exceptionally vivid imagination from an early age. She was creating small world play and giving her toys characters and voices and bringing them to life since before she could talk. I knew it was much harder to bring her out of that world than other kids, and getting her to stop and pay attention to the task at hand was impossible if she just wanted to make believe.
I was at a point where I started to worry there was actually something seriously wrong with her, and for a while I actively discouraged pretend play in order for her to spend more time in reality with us. We clashed.
Then, I read your post. And I saw that you thought this was a positive thing – I had the ability to nurture it, to foster this amazing talent she has by providing her with more freedom and space, not constricting her, but providing better materials, more inspiring set ups, and great things to imitate. And she’s flourished in that short time. She has allowed us into her world – for the first time, she has brought her little sister into the games and together they are now sharing in role playing and small world games. I feel like I am closer to her, I understand her, and I respect that she has an exceptional imagination. She’s awesome.
And when I look back at how I used to view this aspect of her play, I am so thankful that we are now on this new path of respecting her unique creativity.
Thank you for the amazing series, it came at a perfect time for us too. After three babies (and csects) in 38 months we had been floating along taking it a day at a time.
The day 3 edition, setting up a play space, was easily the most powerful for us. I have culled a large number of unused toys to allow for the toys my two toddlers actually play with to be displayed more easily. They independently access those toys now and set up amazing scenes using the playsilks and figurines which had previously been buried and rarely used. AND they put toys away now the popular ones have a place.
Thanks again for a perfectly times series, I wish you could see and hear the play scenes happening in our house. I am sure they would delight you, just as they delight us.
Amy Johnson says
Amazing! This prize plus all the good tid-bits of wisdom that scatter all of the resources affiliated with this site!! A truly remarkable offering. Thanks so much for all the time, energy and love that you put into it. And thanks for the opportunity to win. TA!
Kathryn Stevens says
Your post about painting had the greatest impact on me and my family. I was beginning to hear myself say ‘no, not now’ to my son more often as he reached for the paints. When we did paint, I could hear myself directing him and ‘suggesting’ which colour to use, or which bit of paper to paint on. I think the main reason I was hesitant to let him paint was that I was tired of the mucky brown that would result of mixing paints! Now, our paint storage area is reorganised and I love love love setting out two colours plus white! Thanks for a fabulous series! SO many things I could have written this comment about :-) Kathryn (Qld)
Day 8: Rethinking Art For Children had the greatest impact on my family!
‘Art’ before your post meant my daughter (almost 3 years) using her easel to paint red/green/yellow/blue onto a white page with a kids paintbrush. I had shelved any thought of anything more creative until she was older. After all, she can’t yet draw anything besides a basic person, so what was she meant to paint?
What an explosion of ideas and inspiration filled my head after reading this post. It felt like being given access to an orchestra of instruments after only ever playing a kids xylophone. After some frantic cupboard searching and scratching, out came the old charcoals, chalk pastels, oil pastels, watercolours, tubes of acrylic paint, and paintbrushes that I was keeping for one day some day art projects of my own, that in truth were never going to happen. I bought clay! (Had no idea what to do with it before your Exploring Clay post, but that’s another story!)
My husband observed a little nervously as no sooner than the kids were placed in bed was I completely rearranging our play space with never before seen energy, making an ‘atelier’, displaying art materials in accessible glass jars, adding jars of feathers, buttons, cottonwool, glass stones. Bringing our nature basket into the space. Rearranging and swapping and fiddling until the space was beautiful and inviting. Went to bed exhausted!
First thing the next morning I showed it to my daughter. And I still can’t believe how well it worked. She just jumped right in. She tried everything. I stopped myself from intervening and applying my restrictive rules about ‘art’ when she dipped charcoals into the paint, drew with chalk over her painting, and dipped her wooden stacking blocks into the paint and stamped them onto her page. So much for trying one medium for a week! I was just as excited as her to try everything. We went on the hunt for autumn leaves to paint. We picked out all the shades of pink and purple from our pastels to match the morning glory flowers we picked in the garden. Out came the clay! And a whole lot of creativity! I didn’t even need to encourage her to use the other found objects I’d placed in jars. “A stop sign mommy!” ” A snail!” “A windmill!” “A birthday cake!”. She amazed me.
So, here is a picture of our family makeover (on a budget!):
BEFORE: A little girl bored and frustrated at home, battling with the arrival of her baby brother (now 4 months), having forgotten how to play, with a mom feeling exhausted, without options, and increasingly convinced I’d done my daughter harm in not sending her to school before her baby brother (now 4 months) arrived, and tired of hearing “I want the TV on!”
AFTER: A budding, joy-filled, little artist, discovering everyday how beautiful the world is, figuring out that she is important and capable, with a dad a whole lot less grumpy about money spent on grass baskets and art supplies (:D), a far less harrassed baby brother, and a mom inspired and refreshed, amazed at my daughter’s creative spirit, oh so happy to hear “I want to paint!”
I can’t thank you enough for this awesomely inspiring series which I will re-read many times over! It has revolutionised my approach to play and much more.
oh and I’m an international reader (South Africa)!
Put simply, we’re making connections.
I’ve always wanted my children to learn through play and have meaningful experiences with me, his family and others and with his environment.
I was lucky enough to stumble across your blogs when my now two year old son was a few months old so have implemented a lot of the things you have suggested and have been inspired by Montessori and the Reggio Emilia approach.
However, although I set up activities etc, I don’t think I fully understood the philosophy and then lost my way after my second son was born sleeping six months ago. My husband left me during this time and my son and I have moved house so it’s been a hectic time and sadly ‘play’ hasn’t been the priority I wanted it to be. We have continued to do a lot of it but it has been uninspired and I have been going through the motions rather than really being involved. However a new home (with floor to ceiling windows and views across the rolling countryside) has been a perfect opportunity to review our living and play environment.
Your series has helped us to reconnect with each other and rediscover the joy of simply ‘being’ together and sharing little wonders. Whether this is through ‘proper’ play or preparing dinner or cleaning together. My son is noticeably making connections in his play, transferring his knowledge from one area to another. People have commented on his language skills recently and I love the way we connect at the end of the day as he chats about his new discoveries (tonight’s being naming the animals who live in homes underground and wondering where other animals live -something to discover tomorrow?) as he drifts off to asleep, his hand in mine.
I am making connections with how the Reggio Emilia approach works through following this series. I now leave activities out to be worked on so ideas can develop. I am constantly looking for connections in his current interests in our every day life and to enhance play. Loose parts have played a huge role! I’d love to give examples as I have so many of what he has been doing over the last month but I’m conscious that this is becoming very long-winded! Ok, sorry, I have to share a couple -he loves vehicles and normally I will just get the basket of trains out for him but now this play involves tickets from a journey we took, loose parts (gems, shells, pebbles, pine cones) for setting the scene and as cargo to be transported, a mirror, an old street/railway map and of course, my old childhood book ‘Thomas the Tank Engine Goes Fishing’. it has been extended through playdough and moondough. He made connections through previous play with diggers (we rotate vehicles to avoid being over-run with them!) and turned his train into a logging train (from a sustainable forest of course :-)) I could go on…
I feel particularly connected to my angel boy whenever we are absorbed in nature, which we have been doing a lot lately, whatever the weather. And of course when I silently observe my other son at play, I see what wonderful brothers they would have been.
Your posts about art have made the biggest impact I think as I have shied away from it before. Process rather than product really speaks to me. Art outside has been lots of fun, as has bringing mirrors out to gain a new perspective.
I hope I can continue to see the world through my child’s eyes and that through these early experiences, he is able to continue to see the wonder into adulthood and harness this youthful enthusiasm and thirst fro knowledge.
I’m not sure whether we are constantly learning or constantly playing but whichever it is, we are doing it together. We are connecting with each other, with others and with the world around us and it is beautiful. Thank you.
First, let me just say if your posts were a book my copy would be dog-eared and have coffee stains & scribbles ALL over it!! This series has been completely refreshing, motivating, and inspiring and for that – THANK YOU!!
Over the course of the month (and I’m still working through all the posts) – I have physically touched, sorted, grouped every book, toy, & art material we have in our house. Our shelves have been sorted, arranged in ways that are easily accessible, made aesthetically pleasing, made the space easy to tidy, and created a make shift system for toy rotation. Tailoring the shelves to my children’s top interests has resulted in more items being used and they now regularly put it all back!! AMAZING!!
In doing the rearranging, I brought the nature items out front. Before, they just sat on the shelf with other toys & materials. The playdough activity was transformative for us. My kids weren’t so shocked by the lack of color, but by the ability to use the outdoor items they had been collecting this whole time! Before your series, my daughter’s interest surrounded castles and she had built them using blocks but as soon as she was able to build a castle using sticks and rocks and pine cones and the other items we had on hand, her creativity and ideas just exploded! She even incorporated footprints of the “bad guys” using a sweet gum ball from a sweetgum tree! We haven’t tried using the clay yet, but I know she will be elated knowing her creations can stay up without drying out!! I’m so excited for that too!
The playdough experience inspired me to do more with all the natural elements throughout our play. I brought natural items (beans!) into my son’s kitchen play and he has been in heaven! Beans! He can stand there scooping and pouring and shaking for hours. Not only that, but we have taken about 6 trips to our local thrift store over the past month and the real kitchen tools/bowls/baskets that were found have completely enhanced his level of play! I am now addicted to thrift stores!
I think the area that I’m trying to grow the most for us is making Art a priority. We already had a writing/drawing area which entailed crayons, pencils, and markers that was being used daily, however, we weren’t getting into the paints and pastels and other materials very frequently. In this past month, we have followed your suggestion for using only a few colors at a time and allowed both children to blend their own paints. My daughter had so much to say during her different color mixing and created some pieces of work. My sons work was mostly on his paint pallet and he was so proud. For both kids, the excitement was at its peak in the midst of the work and not at the end. This has made me realize that Art IS all around. The Mirror activity inspired me to bring ART outside not just for the sake of keeping the house cleaner, but to observe and see the natural art that surrounds us. We have done several outdoor drawing sessions with mirrors and items that we’ve collected outside. It has been such a wonderful relaxing experience for me and the kids. This will be a weekly activity for us!
Overall, thank you for all the inspiration you provide on a daily basis! You and Kate have made a huge mark on this stay at home mom over in the United States. Thank you!!
Nina (Oxford, UK) says
Dear Kate and Rachel,
I have been following your blogs for about a year now and you are both so inspiring. I have been improving our play spaces and our play slowly but steadily ever since. However, the TYP series really got me thinking about how I view MY children’s play and I became more passionate then ever to be there for THEM.
I became to observe more…
I became to realise what makes them tick…
I became to accept them for what they are…
I became excited about their interests…
I became to say YES even more often…
My dream of homeschooling/unschooling became even stronger…
This morning, upon returning to work after a long holiday, I looked out into our empty garden… There was no little girl feeding the chickens and no little boy searching for ladybirds… Too quiet and too tidy… And I sat down and I cried…
J Barrett says
While our toys have always been pretty much organised thanks to following you guys for a while, this series has reminded me how important it is to keep going through and updating things in accordance with my childrens interests, they are growing and changing so fast that their play environment needs to keep up!
It has renewed my enthusiasm for setting up more and for identifying and building on their interests and being more aware of what will encourage them to explore more.
It has also reinforced the importance of nature, natural and quality materials and fostering a connection with nature.
As others have said, its so very hard to put into words how this series has helped us, but I suppose to sum it up it has renewed my enthusiasm and my children thank you for it!
ilona harvey says
Hi, great posts! The ones that struck a cord for me were cool toys, improving space and identifing interests .These came just at the right time for me. I work here in New Zealand as a home educater and I had a new highly spirited but great girl start with me and she is at the ‘dump everything out or toss across the room’ stage (ahh,lol).Your posts made me realise she was completley overwhelmed and some of the toys where above her (age wise). So I culled, stored for rotation and re set-up the enviroment to better suit her. She is so much calmer now and even if she does dump its much more managable now.Thanks for saving both our sanities. Also thanks to you and Kate for all your posts and blogs. I have set up my home on the Reggio style and try to educate my children the same too and i ve applied lots of your great ideas. Ilona
It’s hard to choose!!!!!!!! I’m going to say the sandpit one! I don’t have sandpit but I showed it to my husband and it was enough to convince him to build one for us. Hurrah!!!! Thank you!!
the toy cull post was very motivating. I always intended to have natural, wooden, etc with the exception of things like lego, figurines etc, but it has been difficult to educate others on my preferences, and as a result still receive lots of colourful plastic items from family at birthdays and Christmas. This inspired me to go through the things we have and keep only those items conducive to constructive play and exploration. Thank you!
Thank you for sharing your experiences as a mama throughout this thoughtful series. As a family we try to live joyfully, simply, and deliberately so I very much appreciated the lack of emphasis on stuff/toys/things and the clear emphasis on time, togetherness, and creative exploration. If I had to choose just one post that really resonated with me it would have to be the one on loose parts. I wasn’t terribly familiar with this and learning about it has been illuminating.
You highlighted the flexibility of loose parts and gave great specific examples of what they could be. I appreciated that many things we actually had on hand or could be found at the local thrift shop. We’ve found some twigs, pinecones and rocks from around the yard. We also made up some tiny tree blocks from a small branch. I dug out some buttons just sitting in my sewing cabinet and some shells that had been collecting dust in a vase. And have since purchased some bits of sea glass, some gems, and a mirror. I’m glad you included containers in your list too; our son (almost three) still loves opening and closing a variety of containers (mostly old vitamin bottles) and incorporates them into his pretend play too! We’ve included these on our nature table, in our block area, and with play dough.
I appreciate the freedom of using loose parts and the creativity they inspire. I grew up thinking there was a right way to do things so I became driven to “get things right.” Once our son was born, I realized that was a stifling mindset and knew I wanted him to be comfortable taking risks, trying new things, and freely exploring without the weight of “getting it right.” For example, until now, we’d only played with cookie cutters and play-dough tools with play-dough. After seeing the beautiful creations with loose parts, I see how wonderful it is to let him stick all manner of things in the dough from rocks to pinecones.
The theory of loose parts really brought home what our family needed at this time and that is freedom. Freedom to explore. Freedom to create. Freedom to do what works for us. And most importantly, the freedom to do those things without expectation or judgment. That freedom will only enhance our son’s play, but I know it’ll serve and liberate us as parents too, from our own often too critical and unrealistic expectations we have for ourselves.
Thank you for highlighting that the gifts of time and attention, as well as the freedom to create and explore on this journey without judgment and expectation, are what truly matter. All the best to you and yours!
Misty (an International reader)
Hi Rachel, below is the PLAY TRANSFORMED acronyms of how my approach to Play has been changed. You and Kate have truly impacted my thinking and freed me from a lot of traditional/cultural thinking. I am excited to continue this journey of slowly but surely transforming the play in my home for the rest of they year. THANK YOU!Blessings!
P ainting process became more important than the Product
L oose Parts are thoughtfully considered to stimulate interest and enhance creativity
A rrangement of Play began to look Oh so Inviting!(Aesthetics and choice of materials(e.g. use of glass jars and wooden materials to contain items took on a new importance and literally gave a new look.)
Y es to ‘forbidden’ breakable materials like glass and ceramics to enhance Aesthetics and encourage real life handling and learning to occur.
T ime for Nothing is wanting. Now I remind myself to be contented to be just present without conditions.
R igidness to Flexibility. I learn to consider the kids’ interests instead of my own inclinations.
A ctivity of their interests bade me observe their free play and get to know them better as individuals.
N ature: A love for Nature slowly developed as we took time to observe (especially via observation drawings and painting) and discuss about our playtime in the parks, any greeneries we see along our paths.
S pace set apart for Play and to create. When materials were placed on my converted baby cot, the kids began to show keener interests and initiate their own drawings, painting, collage etc. very frequently to my delight!
F inding Books and using them to enhance play has always been a practice which gives a more meaningful Play experience.
O bservational Drawing and Painting has sharpened their awareness of their surroundings and things around them. It also increased their attention span and eye for details. (This is also a practice I’ve been working on with them since young and agree with your series)
R eal Tools will be a challenge as locally, set ups like telescopes, mini real versions of hammers or the like are not widely available nor cheap. Nontheless, others like kitchen tools are readily given to them and even recycled for sandplay. Next to muster courage for real knives under strict supervision.
M irrors brought a new dimension and depth to their play. They enjoy the reflection and multiple perspectives of a set up. It brightened up set ups.
E xploring Clay without reservations happened after your post. I was apprehensive of how it will turn out, and whether they can manage the technical aspects of it. When I just allowed for freedom of exploration, it became a fun and experiential process that All of us enjoyed! In addition, they learnt how to score and join the clay in their own big slabs of abstract clay! Imagine my gladness. : )
D rama Set up was a low priority for me. Will be working on it and start searching for clothes and stuffs that could enhance this aspect of Imagination.
I’m an International Reader from SIngapore.
Chris-Anne Turner says
What a wonderful series. The post that has had the most impact on our family was Day 14 – Want Nothing Time. In a rushed world that is full of busy schedules little people can be easily hurried along. We took a step back and had a look at our lives. We are now consciously slowing down, stopping and smelling the roses and allowing our baby the time to explore, discover and simply be. Thank you.
thebigmango (UK) says
The post the spoke to me the most was the one about the value of real tools. This is what we have been doing as I don’t like the cheap plasticky toy versions of things but I now have some great ideas for extending this as my boy gets older. I was also particularly interested in the post on light as that was new to me. Thanks for a great series.
I think the progression of the posts allowed me to get a bit more from each one. Clay was a new medium for us, light is still on the “to do” list and loose parts was super useful. Throughout the series, I took more time to observe my son, consider materials& their presentation and change my perspective. Each day I took a step closer to being led by my child so he could show me & I could facilitate his discovery& learning. With our weather in the U.S. improving, I think being outside exploring with natural materials will be the most common component of our play during the Spring & summer months.
Thank you for the wonderful series, it has been inspirational to me. The post which resonated most strongly with me was the ‘want nothing time’. I have found this a challenging aspect of motherhood, balancing being distracted versus present and allowing freedom versus controlling the direction of play.
I have learnt that facilitating this free play by providing a natural, open ended play space encourages creativity and imagination and allows the child a sense of freedom and inner confidence.
I love all the posts, but I think the one that had the biggest impact was “Setting UP a Play Space”. We used to live in a bigger house and had a Montessori- style playroom once, then we moved to a much smaller house where kids have to share a small bedroom, let alone having playroom. So I just let it go. Also as the baby was getting mobile things like paints and materials with small parts had to be in a closet. At the beginning of the series, a month ago baby was 20 months old, so actually not a baby any more. When I saw your Day 3 post it made me look at our play area and think – what did I see there? I saw an Ikea shelf with boxes full of toys – not completely out of control, the toys were sorted properly, like legos in lego box, Magna Tiles in Magna tiles box, wooden blocks in block box, schleigh animals in box of their own too. Then there was a box of “miscellaneous” toys. And a few baby “sensory baskets” I set up probably a year ago – my little guy hasn’t touched them for the last 6 months for sure. So I looked at it and asked myself questions, like: what is a purpose of each box? What is being used? What is not? What is missing? Does this set-up serve kids current interests? A lot of re-organisation took place. We freed the shelf from boxes not being used, moved it to a new location, brought in a kids table with chairs, drawers with craft materials, crayons and paper, some loose parts for playdough,etc. We re-purposed our lamp table for a construction table by day and light panel table at night. (I bought light panel a few months ago and it wasn’t used much as it was sitting in the clothet). Now kids enjoy their play area a lot more and I can see them spending more time playing. We haven’t been through all the “30 days …” tasks, but we have done some. There is so much information in various homeschooling blogs so it is easy to fall in the trap of trying to do it all, but what I liked about this series is that there is a system and a lot of quality information of why such and such activity is important. Now I now what to focus. Thanks guys, do you think you might puplish this series as a book?
Jo thomson says
I LOVED the posts on transforming your playspace, incorporating mirrors and imaginative play. I love to move things around and try different things in our home. I find it gives me more energy and inspiration to enjoy the space I live in. So I was inspired by these posts to create some new corners in our home. In particular, a reading corner which doubles as a cubby house amongst other things. I used a large curtain propped up by a towel rack and a large branch, inside a placed pillows and sheepskin skins for comfort and a book shelf for books to read. I also placed a large mirror inside, the children love this as there is an extra dimension of space within the small enclosure. The amount of time I have seen my children play within has been amazing! From cosy book reading between snuggled up siblings to forts and fashion shows to hospitals and homes. Changing this one space has enriched our play and learning dramatically.
Firstly, I wanted to thank you Rachel for taking so much time and effort to write these blog posts and being so passionate and encouraging with your posts!
The two biggest things I got out of the Transform Your Play series was;
1. Right back at the beginning when you asked us to think about our children’s interests and what they’re passionate about and how to bring that to the fore-front. I have focused more intently on this in the last month than I ever have before and everything I have introduced this month to expand on Hannah and Blake’s play has been a hit and i think that is credit to your words. I’ve even decided when we move that we will hook up this – http://www.ikea.com/ms/img/ads/vitality/201441/201441_chvd01a/201441_chvd01a_01_PE414283.jpg – cool swing in our lounge room because the kids just love hanging and swinging. Our home will be even more family friendly – in all the good ways – because of this series and your influence
2. There were a few toys that I had decided to put in the ‘sell’ pile after my toyroom clean up. However reading the posts about rearranging toys and creating different invitations to play made me decide to give a couple of those toys a new lease of life and I have been really glad I have. I’ve also become better at displaying those invitations so that the kids get a lot more out of them than before.
The post that had the greatest impact would have to be Day 2: Culling Toys. My husband and I had always planned to have well made ‘good’ toys, and not lots of them. Quality over quantity. But as the months went on we seemed to have collected lots and lots… and lots of toys. Your post reminded me of what was more important, and it wasn’t a ‘full’ play room. I got in there one morning after reading the post and cleaned up all the toys, popped them into categories in boxes and placed the ones that are well loved on the bookshelf. Before I cleaned it all up it would feel messy, and as soon as you walked in it would have this almost oppressive feeling to the room. Now the room feels much more inviting, and we love to go in and spend time in there playing, learning and chilling out reading.
EmmaJane Phillpotts says
Wow, I just discovered this series and am so glad I did!!! So many parts of it spoke to me. I am a young mum with an almost two year old, so I see a lot of TV based parenting and am a bit of a toy snob when it comes to gender free racially inclusive long lasting quality toys. Minimal TV and no kids series for my own sanity and childs creativity. We have a low income so toy buying is generally post tax time- I am dying to get a set of wooden blocks. We try and focus on our daughters interests (currently cars, trains, reading, ocean animals and dolls/baby) tailoring outing to suit (off to see Deep Oceans exhibit soon). Sand is also our next step as we want to create an outdoor cubby/reading area/sand pit with our minimal DIY and budget we will build and add slowly- the fact that we can even build is awesome. I discovered this after a few plants we planted got transplanted and other toys burried. We also have our own interests which we try work on as i think that is important too. I am going to have to get some pipes for the sandpit (we have just moved to this house so its a slow set up being pregnant also). Thank you for the real tools post, I have conciously opted against a play kitchen and often supervise/help cook with my daughter including using not too sharp knives and watching hot plates under very strict supervision – I sometimes feel guilty but being a young mum I need to baby proof my child as most of my friends houses are not baby proof and she could easily grab an object that was not put away saftely. So it’s nice to know other mums let there children use real tools to (of varying degrees). I could write a blog post size reply but I won’t as it’s not my blog but honestly the giveaway is an amazing prize and your posts have inspired me to keep focused on good quality play and spaces (so against the grain for my family and mothers group) as well as introducing new interests (going to try languages from age 2 due to the ease of picking a second language up). Thank you for the vote of confidence that they can be created and the wonderful posts that I will use as reference again and again!!!
Jess Robinson says
Thank you so much for this series, it has been wonderfully inspiring :) it almost feels wrong for us to be the ones rewarded at the end of all of this after all we have already gained! Almost… that prize pack is way too incredibly to pass up lol.
For me, I think I really needed and benefitted most from the “Want Nothing Time” post. I can get very caught up in trying to provide so many beautiful and exciting experiences for my children, the reminder was very timely for me. Really, the most beautiful and exciting memories need not be planned but develop from the simple fact my children are beautiful and exciting :)
Thank you again. You’ve definitely been a positive force in our home over the past 30 days!
I got really excited when I found your blog and with all the simple, but effective ideas.
Your blog made me connect with my inner child and therefore understand better what my daughter would like to play with.
Since then, we being having so much fun exploring new materials, collecting flowers, rocks, sticks and the best of all saving a lot of money on toys that just clutter our living room.
Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge and ideas!
Rachel, this series has been really great for me and my daughter. Right now we live in a one bedroom apartment and while I don’t have a playroom & we are tight on space, I tried to look at what I could take away from each post, that day, and incorporate some element into our routine and in our home. I bought a few baskets at the thrift shop, some stones from the dollar shop for loose parts, pulled out an old OHP that a friend gave me for my own art projects, and just tried to provide things that interested her and even me, in my play with her. These last few weeks have been challenging in terms of behavior and teaching/training, (my daughter is 2 and half – she proudly says now) and just had surgery on April 9th. But what I remember most about the last month is our trip to the Audubon center, dancing in our living room, her amazement at the OHP, our free brown bag lunch ballet at a local university, the giant eagle feather we found (that she enjoyed for at least an hour!) and the ‘want nothing’ time I spent sitting with her over the last week. I think the ‘want nothing’ post really hit home – time to set aside the modern world and just observe and be with my child. There are more ideas from this series I want to incorporate over the coming weeks, I’ll be sure to share on instagram with you. Thank you again!
Your post on clay made me think of this material in such a different way. While we don’t have natural clay (yet), using natural materials has made playing with our neon artificial “playdoh”, more exciting, and better than buying those plastic themed play sets! Who knew?
Thank you again for all your posts. Can’t wait til we can try them all!
Btw, we are international – U.S.
I think the biggest way my approach to play has changed over the last month is in my perspective. I’ve really tried to look at things through my son’s eyes when thinking about materials, spaces, the questions I ask, the encouragement I provide. This series has made my thought processes and actions regarding play much more intentional in this direction. As a result I feel his play has gotten so much deeper and more satisfying. There is more focus, less distraction from the stuff I was wanting him to do and play with, and he is delving deeper into his own curiosity and interest, which has been such a pleasure to watch! I’ve made a goal to come back to this in 6 months to a year and reevaluate and make sure this new perspective remains at the forefront of play in our house.
I’m in the States!
Suzie's Home Education Ideas says
Wow! What a load of wonderful play-based learning resources!! Your blog post on connecting with the natural world struck a cord with me. I have been hoping that my children take an interest in nature and want to explore it further. And slowly, over the last few weeks, since the weather has cooled down somewhat, we have been doing just that. My children love being outside and thank you for the reminder to just watch them explore the world around them without having to worry about time or any other pressure.
Your blog post on selecting materials made me think about how the materials and toys my children use reflect on how we view them. WOW! I had never thought of it like that! I started observing what they were using and it really did open my mind. I have since pulled out the microscope that I had hiding in the cupboard (in case my children break it!) and chucked away the plastic one they had been using. I also culled the plastic toys (most of them) and brought out more of our wooden resources for my children to use and explore (not sure why they were hiding before). But children have seem to have found a new freedom and confidence in this so I am really grateful to you for the suggestion.
Thank you for this wonderful series as I, like so many others, have been inspired to rethink and transform our children’s play.
Jackie@My Little Bookcase says
What a fab giveaway, and a wonderful series.
I am still working through the series but I’d say for me- watching my toddler and seeing him and his interests differently to his sister has been the biggest learning curve for me.
I’m still reading it but i love it so far. I know it will change a lot of families. I’m planning to print it, share it and also translate for my spanish speakers friends. This is opening my mind, transforming my childrens play and our homeschool. I want to learn more!! Pick me!! Lol! ;)
Hmm..do I have to pick just one thing. I’ve really enjoy reading all of the information you’ve been providing. Great tips and reminders for creative play. Thank you for being such an encouragement!
Jennifer Dawn says
There have been so many great days! The ideas book is something I haven’t previously tried though. I loved the idea of incorporating a journal into playtime. It extends both the play and learning experience. We will start homeschooling my oldest for kindergarten in the fall. My sister, a kindergarten teacher, keeps reminding me how important it is for a child to write everyday even if it is just one word. This would be a great way for her to get that practice in! Thanks for sharing your ideas!
I have loved this series and it was timed so perfectly for us! My daughter has undergone a lot of big changes over the past little bit and it’s not stopping anytime soon as we are now moving! I’ve been experiencing major “single mother’s guilt” over all of the changes and immediately started adding items to my Amazon wishlist or Pinterest to buy for her new playroom to help “ease” the transition… and then this series reminded me what my goals are and helped me refocus in a new way.
This move is the ultimate opportunity to “reset” and refocus on our playroom (and our play) to be more open-ended and incorporate less-fixed materials. My daughter is entering an age where she is developing more personalized interests and getting deeper into her imaginative play and creations, so as tempting as it is to BUY everything that can possibly support a new-found interest, I’m trying to step back and let her provide for herself. She is capable of transforming the raw and open-ended materials that I have provided for her into whatever she wants them to be, and I need to stop interfering with my fear of not adequately providing and just have faith and trust — in her and in myself.
Thank you so much for this series; I’m not sure if you realized when you embarked how much it would impact and help some of us, but please know that it has been a gift!
My daughter has been recently diagnosed with mosaic down syndrom, here in France. We had planned to unschool since before she was born, and that diagnosis reinforced our determination.
But nonetheless, knowing that she might be different, learn differently, more slowly, puzzled me for a long while.
She is completly reluctant to doing too directed activities, and yet she obviously needs to be led a little bit, since she doesn’t ask many questions nor concentrate much.
Reading your posts about transforming our play really helped me to rediscover my little girl, and her passions.
Thanks to you, I had the idea and the courage to make playdough and set sensory activities for her, which she totally LOVED and engaged in. I also started rotating her toys, and she rediscovered many of those, inventing wonderful stories to our delight.
I’m on my way to making more toys and materials, and introducing loose parts.
The “Want Nothing Time” post was especially meaningful to me. Even after 5 years, and even knowing better, I still feel like I should be the entertainer-in-chief, that I should always be “on” and spend every minute with my daughter. This post was a great reminder that stepping back and letting her have some space and even (gasp) be bored is beneficial too!
Bek @ Just For Daisy says
Oh wow!! What an amazing prize!! Thank you both so much for this series, it has been a wonderful push in the right direction for me as my girls get older and I feel their play and play spaces needed a change. We’ve seen so many different ideas come forth in their play and art and I know that is because of the way your posts have changed/refocused my thinking. Can’t wait to see this as an eBook or even better a hard copy!! xx