Saturday, January 18, 2014

Day Eighteen: Foster Imagination

We set up our chairs in the yard, draped blankets across them and placed our "babies" carefully underneath. My two sisters shared adventures with me as long as I was being nice. As the oldest, I tended to be bossy and as soon as I began ordering everyone around, the two of them would abandon the fort and easily find something else to do together. However, this day, we played for hours, even pulling in the four hens we kept in our play house, Trixie, Miss Prissy, Betty and Grace. We'd swing down from the grand willow tree by Tarzan rope, screaming all the way. The sun warmed our skin, the hours drifted slowly and the grasshoppers sprang about at our feet. We were happy out there in the wide world of play.
In the yard with my sisters--hen house behind.
Dressing up in Great-Mama's day-dresses (yep, that's her wig on me!)
Most dressing up occurred at Great-Mama's house. She had all the interesting stuff to use :)
Her lacy drapes made a beautiful wedding gown.
When gifted with an abundance of time, my children play like it's their real life. Imaginations soar like the little birds who perch and watch them from the treetops. Mud becomes cake, seedpods are money and tree branches are brooms with which to sweep imaginary backyard homes. Time is essential because you must first erase the initial boredom factor. My children know that announcing boredom means a chore will be promptly assigned to them. Sometimes, it takes awhile for all of them to agree on what the play is for the day but when they do, and it begins to take good shape, anything is possible. This kind of play lasts for days and they're itching to get back outside and continue "real life" outside. Nothing is more disappointing than being called back in the house before they're satisfied that all is well in their extraordinarily created world.
Joining friends in their imaginary zones opens their world to even greater heights of invention. Cohesiveness must first be established to ensure effective communication and productivity. Usually a leader naturally falls into command, or is elected, and the workers of the land help build the fort or town. Mossy Hill is one such place. Annie and I meandered through the woods behind her home to check on our kids and found them designing and building the town of Mossy Hill. This wild and lovely place was complete with pebble-lined pathways which divided homes and roads, flower petals for dĂ©cor, log chairs, a time-out area (lol), and designated trees for break time. The children spoke in a new dialect with code words us moms didn't understand. What happened on Mossy Hill took time, energy, ingenuity, cooperation and it resulted in satisfaction and joy. 
Using seedpods as currency--can't get ice without it!
The first requirement to fostering imagination and the body movement that usually accompanies it, is to confiscate all electronics. Kids who are too cool for imaginative play may not have been reminded lately how fun it actually is. Their memories have been erased by the powers of the electronic devices. We, as mommas, must bring them back! I sent my children outside yesterday with large bowls and spatulas and told them to figure out what to do with them. Because this is a regular thing around here, creativity (plus the recently watched movie, Frozen) was quick to evolve into a land of ice peddling and snow soup. Even big sister, who wanted some fresh air humoured her siblings and joined in the play.
A couple of years ago, I came across the picture book, Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran, and I welled up with tears as it whisked me back to the same kind of play I experienced with my sisters. I ordered it immediately through Book Depository, which always has free shipping worldwide. This is the sweet experience children naturally fall into when given time and a little encouragement. Homeschooling has allowed my kiddos to enjoy this type of intelligence-building play. 
the owner, operator
Meg's store
ice store
snow soup
store equipment 
maneuvering the ice blocks is hard work
Emily sitting on it isn't helping things.

Very happy kids filled with purpose!

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