Me: What are you working on?
Mary: A house so a monster can’t get in. We have to make everything big to keep the monster out. The Daddies and Mommies are watching for the monster so the kids can play and take a nap.
We recently added dollhouse furniture to our Construction Center. The level of enthusiasm that this addition has aroused is wonderful. It has really influenced the types of things we construct, the stories we tell around those constructions, and the way we play together and cooperate.
This week there have been many, many large-scale works taking place in this already popular Center, all of them utilizing the furniture. Today, this type of work stretched longer than it ever has. When the first group was finished constructing, rather than take it apart/clean up, they left it and went to another Center (new, colored ink pens in Writing!) Over the course of the next hour plus, almost every child ventured into Construction Center and interacted with the original construction, either by adding to it, rearranging it or simply using it as-is to act out a story.
Part of the power of play for children is that it enables them to explore ideas (big, scary, complicated, confusing things as well as silly, exciting, overwhelming things) through acting them out and storytelling. They get to explore the concept of such things as monsters in lots of ways. They might play the part of the monster, or perhaps they are the hero defending everyone else from the monster. They can play the part of the terrified victim without actually having to feel terrified. They can let the monster capture them; they can escape. They can experiment with creating traps and structures that will protect them from monsters. And they can be sure they are safe because the grownups in their lives are there and because it’s PRETEND.
The monster will never really win; there is always a way to keep the monster out.