Friday 27 September 2013

Open ended activities

A recent discussion in one of my FB group got me thinking about open ended play. At first thought, I was aghast that I have not purportedly gave any thought about this. But upon further analysis, I realised my kids have lots of open ended play everyday. The best part of it is, I rarely dictate or plan it that way. It just happen naturally.
I decided to share some of my 'unplan' open ended play/toys here. But I hope to add more on to my list as I research for more ideas.
1. Free play
The best open ended play is Free play. I know I always blog about my kids home learning to a point that it seems we are one sided. Truth is doll gets about 10-15 minutes of home learning and Sonshine only 20 minutes a day. The rest of their time? Free play.
I don't have the habit of sitting down and have one on one play with my kids. I feel like a horrible mother but 24 hour of babysitting is enough to tire me out. So my kids learn to find their own entertainment since they were very young like crawling infants. The good that came out of that is, both have learnt to find ways to keep themselves occupied in the house. I have to add, I rarely entertain my kids with TV shows. My kids can clock 0 hours of TV a day and still find things to play with (and STILL complain they have not enough time to play!).  They can coop up at home 24 hours, a few days straight and won't complain of boredom. I credit this to their independence (in play) & ability in finding their own entertainment. {As I am typing this, doll is finding much joy & amusement just by playing with one sock! How apt!}.

But be warned! Free play also means a topsy turvy house!
2. Lego/Duplo
This is redundant to say really. But one thing I like to add is that I try to avoid buying those pre-packed theme Lego. I don't see how these stimulates creativity. I don't understand how hard is it to follow step by step instructions to build that magnificant looking structure? I rather my child use his own imagination to build his tallest building, racing car, bus stop, the entire township, angry bird structure. Heck that it looks less than glorious but at least it was born out of his creativity. I think anything that he builds on his own is 100 times more awesome than those pre-packed boxes. So, in my house, we have boxes of assorted Legos and Duplo, three kid-size tables lined up in a row and they are free to build anything they desire. Sonshine loves to build a small little town from scratch and than destroys the who town as he pretends that there's an earthquake. LOL!
3. Playdough
Let me declare here that I HATE PLAYDOUGH! It is so messy! But like all children, my babies LOVE them. Doll ask to play with it EVERYDAY. But yes, playdough is one of the great open ended play- you don't need me to elaborate on this do you?
4. Drawing
Sonshine loves to draw and will ask to do it frequently. I can't say he's drawing is fantastic (looks more like scribbles actually) but it helps him to express himself and let loose his imagination. Nowadays, I buy drawing paper in bulk because it runs out too fast. Doll is picking this up too and love to doodle whenever she sees her big brother drawing away. I have to admit though, my art & crafts corner is not accessible- because I am afraid doll would scribble at the wrong places (and she already has). So I would like to explore and see how I can make this more available for the kids.

These are my kids' daily dose of open ended play. We have other stuff like cooking. cashier and stuff toys for pretend play but my kiddos aren't too keen  though they do play with those toys once in awhile. I am not sure but I get a feeling that it isn't enough and we need to add abit more spice. Hence, I have been researching more activites that can provoke their imagination and creativity- especially for Sonshine.

Some of the ideas (for older kids) I found feasible & doesn't take much time/preparation work:

- Drawing games: You draw a squiggly line or a circle and show how by adding more drawings it can turn into something else like the someone's eyebrow or a happy face. Invite the child to do the same.

- Creating a story: Together with your child work out a story about anything and everything. Once while driving to school, Sonshine and I created a story together about a boy and what happened to him etc. It was quite funny and fun!

- Ask open ended questions: What will happen if people could fly? Brainstorm as many ideas as you can with your child.

When doing these activities, the last thing you want to do is to shoot down his ideas. Welcome all his ideas, though ridiculous they may sound. The objective of these games is to let his creative juices flow NOT to find the politically, technically correct answers.

I am still searching for more ideas, I hope to be inspired!

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