Playing with Your Food

By Amanda Johnson

One of the things that sold me on Bothell Family Cooperative Preschool when I visited last year was the creative play station. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it and could instantly imagine students having a ball playing shoe store and post office.

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It is well documented how important creative play is for preschool age children. Through play, kids learn how to share responsibility, take turns and problem solve. When a child engages in creative play, they build imagination and cognitive skills. It can also serve as a way for young children to work through their emotions and act out the grown up stuff they see their parents do on a daily basis. Because we all know being an adult is a non-stop blast. ;)

Creative play also is a great tool for relationship building and learning about inclusion. Children pick up the concepts of inclusion and exclusion from adults easily. It can be difficult to navigate when a child experiences exclusion and we tend to celebrate when they exercise inclusion. Especially if their particular brand of play aligns with our values. I read about this lately on Teacher Tom’s blog. Tom Hobson, of Woodland Park Cooperative Preschool, is the speaker for our all school parent meeting on November 15. Teacher Tom is an advocate of play based curriculum as a way to teach kids to learn and grow in a healthy way. I love what he has to say regarding inclusion and teaching our children how to navigate the often scary world of making friends. You can read more about his post here.

This month the creative play station will be a restaurant and pie shop. I can’t think of a more perfect choice for the season of thanksgiving and pumpkin pie. But in all preschool seriousness, what Teachers Beth and Kathy have done here is pretty brilliant. Weaving the month’s themes of food and tradition into the creative play station enriches our tiny students’ minds in ways they won’t even realize.

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While casually serving a platter of turkey and mashed potatoes they may meet a friend for a lifetime. Slaving over an apple pie in the make believe oven may spark a love of baking that turns into a career as a pastry chef. Purchasing a meal at the restaurant can teach kids how we use math in our everyday lives. Sitting down to a meal with your class ‘family’ at the restaurant can help enforce the traditional importance of Thanksgiving.

Or not. Maybe (most likely) none of that will happen. And that’s okay too. In fact, that’s the beauty of creative play. It doesn’t have to be all that serious. Chances are your child will never remember selling a pecan pie to a cash strapped three year old when he was in PreK.

What they may remember is they had a lot of fun at preschool. The details will most likely be fuzzy.