Thursday, March 20, 2014


My six word novel:  Welcome child.  Teach me to play!

Solving the dilemma of how to develop an attitude toward play is really quite simple.  To develop an attitude toward play, surround yourself by the masters of play—young children.  If you want to become an artist, you surround yourself with art and artists.  The same is true with music and any other creative endeavor.  When you want to develop a creative bend, surround yourself by the masters of that craft.  And who knows more about play than the five-year-old?  I have had the privilege this year of working very closely with five year old children for part of my school week.  There isn’t a day that I don’t smile from their creativity and their innocent view of life.  There isn’t a day that I don’t feel fortunate to receive spontaneous hugs and hellos as I walk through the school.  Five-year old children are the masters of play and we would do well to surround ourselves by the masters when we crave lightness.

Today I had the fortune to work and to play with Jonathan.  Jon is a busy boy who loves playing outside by the pond with his dad.  He likes to camp and loves all things non-fiction.  He likes building with Legos and he loves feeding the turtles.  He is an active boy and I have the opportunity to work with him in a setting where I teach him early reading and writing skills.   He is the kind of boy that looks like he is not paying attention, but if you can attune yourself to his rhythm and be comfortable with his activity, you grow to know how much he is absorbing and learning.  Our work regiment is usually work for two activities, play, work for two more activities, play, work for two more activities and play again.  The work often looks like play and the play is short and with smatterings of learning.  Sometime the work is more play to him and sometimes my idea of a reading game doesn’t capture his liking at all.  My lessons are fairly fast-paced and as we have grown comfortable in his rhythm of learning and my need to teach, our time together has been quite productive, playful and enjoyable. 

What I love about Jonathan is his imagination.  Today as he came into my teaching space he announced that we needed to not stop our work because he wanted more time with me in the play area at the end so he could show me his Lego creation.  (This is often how we would end a typical lesson.)  He wanted to make sure that at the end of our work time, I would be the one to play with him in the play area—not someone besides me.  Through the lesson he told me that he didn’t want to feed the turtles as his play.  After he wrote his story, he had no time for drawing a picture.  Today he was all business so that afterwards we could play. 

Well, the end of the work time came and Jonathan was dancing in circles, excited to show me what he built.  We sat on the floor by the Lego area and this intricate contraption that he had been obviously building all day awaited.  In the seven minutes we had before he went home he showed me the doors and the tunnels and just exactly how he was going to catch a leprechaun that night at school after he went home.  He wanted me to be the watch guard since I lived at school.  As he left, he ran over to me and hugged me saying, “Thank-you, grandma!”  The words slipped from his mouth in the same way that the words “mom” slipped out of many a students’ mouth over the course of my teaching.

Whoa!  I live at school?  I look like a grandma?  No one has ever called me grandma before. He then left with “You’re the best teacher.  Thank you for playing with me.”  And I left with “You are the best player I know.  Thank you for being my teacher.”

I am very fortunate.  I surround myself by masters of play every time I am in a school.  Do you want to develop play-titude?  Surround yourself by young children—the masters of play—and discover the magic.


Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for dedicating space and time for writers and teachers of writing to come together to share ideas, practice and life experience.


  1. This made me teary, Deb. What a beautiful, beautiful exchange. Children are so wise, and you too...for knowing it. I love this month here! xo

    1. This month here has been very special to me. I had no idea the depth of understanding I would get by exploring a concept daily. Thanks, Amy!

  2. What a great collaboration of work and play, especially whey one intermingles with the other. You do have some great mentors for play.

    1. Work and play are best when the do intermingle. Thanks for your words.

  3. And I left with “You are the best player I know. Thank you for being my teacher.” = Joy in Work
    :) Thanks for loving what you do - and for being so good at it!

  4. What a special moment - I loved the way you described all the intricacies of your play, and his excitement.