Our children have been having fun exploring the art of balancing. It all began quite spontaneously when a group of friends were trying to build block towers. Inevitably they would come crashing down but always with an exciting thunderous crash to make up for it. At first the towers were not that tall before they fell however as their balancing skills and precision became more refined our clever builders would build taller towers, clear the area of passing friends and push them down. The acoustics were exciting and worth all the hard work to get there.
After a few wonderful crashing sessions, our builders became quite skilled and their thoughts and ideas shifted to balancing and keeping the towers up. We heard some clever descriptive words and sentences from our builders as they problem solved to great heights. “Look, my one hasn’t fallen down, its staying up…….mine is getting taller, higher and stronger…..”
In another spontaneous moment, our builders shifted their play to working together as a team. While one builder started a tower on one side of the mat, the other two began on the other side and they progressively added onto their towers until they met in the middle. It was a joyous and celebrated moment when the merger of towers finally happened.
Next came the need to extend even further on their play. Our spontaneous builder friends added cars and trains where ever they could balance them, transitioning this activity into symbolic play. (Psychologist Jean Piaget 1896–1980 – Symbolic play is an understanding and adoption of higher emotions, overcoming egocentrism and considering the view of others)
By now an audience was gathering around the action and our builder friends welcomed the spectators to join in. Every child in the room was now adding individual blocks to the city of towers. They held their breath as each block was added willing it to stay secure until the supply of spare blocks was totally exhausted.
Spontaneous play played a big part in this inspiring sequence of events offering them all vital experiences of social, conceptual and creative skills. It not only added to increasing their knowledge and understanding of the world around them but it was complex, fun and meaningful as well.