As a little girl, I remember my sisters and I tagging along occasionally in the summers as my Dad visited his classroom for various reasons we often paid no attention to. While he might be doing an inventory of equipment and compiling orders of beakers, burners, and other scientific tools, we would explore the old and often empty building, climb up and down what we thought were dramatic staircases, play school, draw on the chalkboards, etc. My memories are foggy but happy ones.
Remind me next time not to make such a big list, but seriously, all 15 of these play materials are worth the money and space because they lead to some rich and deep play that spans various ages, stages, and interests. So today, I will finally share more “totally-worth-the-space-and-money” play items on my list!
It’s been a good while, so first of all, yes, we are alive!!! Continue reading Part 3 of Worthwhile Toys for the Early Years
I shared the first part of this list 15 Worthwhile Toys for the Early Years a few weeks back, because the toy industry, children’s movies/TV and related products, Pottery Barn Kids, Target (both of which I LOVE!), educational products, etc. can be SO damn cute and manipulative, much like our little ones… and then bam! Or “CRUNCH!” Or “OW!” You’ve stepped on one of thousands of toys or supplies… no matter how much your munchkins actually help put them all away.
If you’re like me, you like keeping money in your pocket/bank, you don’t like your house being overrun by toys, and basically you hate wasting time and money on anything your children will outgrow or lose interest in within the lifespan of a housefly. (They don’t live long folks.)
As the twins (now 1 years old!) have really begun playing more independently, jointly, and with things, I’ve lost myself in thought about toys. I’ve been pretty picky about toys, so thankfully, I am fairly happy with the amount of and type of toys in my house, for the most part. But let’s face it: not all toys are created equally. Some toys stand the test of time and parent/teacher sanity, and some don’t.
In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the definition of rigor and it was a bit alarming at first.
In Part 2, we focused on achieving rigor through play by intentionally challenging our little ones, challenging being one of the key terms in our definition of educational rigor.
In Part 3, I want to really drive home a point about rigor:
Rigor may feel uncomfortable at times, but we have to embrace that in order to optimize and allow for learning to occur.
Rather than argue why rigor and play are not opposing ideas or camps in early childhood education (see Rigor in Play, Part 1), isn’t the best way to demonstrate the point, simply to show HOW we achieve rigor through play?
To do so, let’s pull out some of the key elements from our educational definition of rigor. Let’s start with challenging.
Ensuring that children’s play is challenging requires a few things from us (maybe even challenging ourselves first).
If you are a teacher or follow educational trends, you are quite familiar with the term rigor. You probably have a love/hate relationship with it. Yet many teachers struggle with really defining it or explaining it to parents.
So, let’s search Google for a dictionary definition. Wait, wait, nope, that’s startling. Hell, even depressing.
Webster’s definition includes words like: harsh inflexibility, severity, unyielding or inflexible, strictness, austerity, even cruelty, extremity of cold, rigidity, stiffness, strict precision, and a definition for the medical term rigor mortis. Yikes, people! How does this word belong in education?