On Saturday morning at The Parenting Place’s Children’s Festival, I was amused as I explained to a young teenage volunteer what he would be doing at the “Froggie Splash” activity.“Fill the pail with the colorful frogs, hand it to a waiting child, who will then try to throw the frogs into the water.”
“Okay”, he said, “but what do they get for doing it?” At first I didn’t understand, but then realized he meant what was going to be their prize? It took me a second before I responded, “Oh”, I said, “a splash!”
Sometimes an activity can be enjoyable just for the sake of doing it, and no where could that be demonstrated more clearly than with the activities offered at The Children’s Festival on Saturday.
I was thrilled to see so many children playing and working with such great focus and pleasure – at whatever they chose, using the materials in their own individual style. I won’t forget the faces of purposeful concentration and contentment on the children as they worked. As another co-worker and I stood watching a few children in the Mud Kitchen, we both commented that to speak to them at this time would be intrusive.
It was enough to just watch – and appreciate.
What I noticed also on Saturday, there were no distinct pink aisles or blue aisles. I never observed only boys doing this or girls doing that. The materials were natural, familiar, real, recycled and children responded to them not by gender but by interest and eagerness.
I believe that offering children authentic materials is key to grabbing their interest. There’s something so genuine about playing with items that look and feel and are ones they’ve seen in their own homes and in the world around them. And like in our Loose Parts area, the children used these odd miscellaneous recognizable parts to create their own imaginary world.
And so another Children’s Festival is put to rest – only the memories and stories still to be exchanged and pondered about when planning next year. I know for The Parenting Place staff and families who work tirelessly on the day of the event, it was well worth it.
And what do I think the children thought?
I think they were happy with a splash!