Stories from the Classroom : Representational Play

representational playSammy, age three, loves trains. He loves all the parts of trains- the wheels, stacks, engines, types of cars and, of course, their tracks. He loves a familiar tank engine whose popular name I need not mention. One summer morning Sammy found a new way to represent his beloved train tracks and more specifically the empty space between the railroad ties. Sammy’s friend Liam was playing with some slate tiles, filling up a dump truck and when he finished he offered them to Sammy. “Thanks, Liam, I like these squares,” he said, “because they’re square, like tracks.”  Sammy placed a slate tile against each of the fence pickets.

“Now the fence is a train track,” squealed Sammy. “See the spaces?”

Sammy’s representational play demonstrates his ability to use materials to express his ideas, which is indicative of his growing cognitive skills. His love of trains coupled with an affinity to identify shape, pattern and order was acknowledged by several of his classmates. Some children commented on how Sammy played at matching. Another liked the way he was careful. One counted the tiles, one described it as a wall track, and many complimented his really good design.

Sammy’s story easily reminds us that the child’s ideas + open-ended materials + time = play, which reveals skills and knowledge.

Special thanks to the children and teachers from Wildflower Preschool in Boulder, CO.

Best To All,

Diane and the Kodo Team

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