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21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

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Friday, 22 August 2014

Mairtown Kindergarten Royals

At Mairtown Kindergarten we love to foster and celebrate the beauty and wonder of our children’s great imaginations. We support this play through lots of thoughtful planning and intentionally by setting up an environment that is beautiful, inspiring and full of open-ended resources.
At present some of our most frequently used inside resources include the colourful scarves, and the wooden castle pieces and figurines.
There is always a lot of imaginary play happening with these resources and the children that are involved are often deeply engaged with one another, creating a world of drama and delight around the roles of the princes, princesses, knights and dragons.
After recognising this popular play and listening to the wonderful dialogue between the children it was evident that imaginative play was alive and well. I decided to ask the children about why they like to dress up and pretend to be these characters.

“When I pretend to be a princess it makes me feel good, like I can do anything I want, like I can sing heaps of songs.” (London-Rose)
“Pretending to be things is good because if you want to be something you can. It’s fun!” (Khaia)
“When I’m a princess I like to play with Maria. We be mums and queens. We pretend to be something. It makes me happy.” (Payton)
“You know when I am a princess I’m not actually Korari, I’m Princess Alice! That is my pretend name I like.” (Korari)
To extend on this interest I decided to incorporate the children’s love for dressing up, with their love for playing the castle and royal figurines by personalising this play space. I took photos of the children dressed up and made small figurines to play with in the castle area.
Some children also drew pictures of kingdoms and these were used as back drops. This was all set up after the children had gone for the day and when they returned in the morning new levels of magical play and interaction began.
“Wow, this looks so beautiful here!” (Kate)
“Oh, this is a little tiny me. Can I play with me? I am being a beautiful princess” (Emma)
“I am the only boy one, the only prince. I might be the king too!” (Wyatt)
“We are playing princesses and Madison and I are being witches.” (London-Rose)
“They turn into witches, they do the bad things but then the other princesses make them stop doing the bad.” (Khaia)
“I like being this little person, I am playing with all my little friends. We have a castle to all play in as little ones together.” (Maria)
Over the past week more children have become interested in their tiny friends and have engaged in lots of imaginary play and story-telling.
“Look Zeke, I see all these people, they are our friends and they are little people in this castle. Let’s play with them!” (Matteo)
So these lovely little Kindergarten Prince and Princesses have been wonderful for creating many opportunities for extending on our children’s interest in imaginary play. This type of play allows children to explore the magic of being creative with their ideas and knowledge in a safe but meaningful way. The world of royalty is an imaginary place for our children, however the roles that they chose to play with in them are boarder line realistic for them. For example playing with other children’s figurines that they usually would do in real life. Or playing roles that are familiar to them like being a Mum Princess with a baby as they have a little baby living in their household at home.

Davis (2011) acknowledges that, “Imaginative play is essentially when children are role playing and are acting out various experiences they may have had or something that is of some interest to them.  They are experimenting with decision making on how to behave and are also practising their social skills.  Children learn from experience: from what happens around them, from what they see, hear, smell, taste and touch.   To absorb those experiences and make sense of the world, they need to be engaged in imaginary play.”

The joy, magic and creativity that happens during this type of play is so wonderful to be a part of. Children are incredibly good at being free and thinking outside the box through their play. As a teacher of young children I feel blessed to be privy to the value imaginary play and the important role it plays in terms of lifelong learning. It is great for helping develop strategies that support problem solving in real life situations.

Harris (2002) gives a great example of how imaginary play gives children skills that will support them in the future, “... suppose we think of pretend play and fantasy as something that’s quite characteristic of young children—it makes them playful and endearing but doesn’t really contribute to their later cognitive development and by adulthood it has in some sense disappeared. I tried to argue that this is wrong. Human beings have a gift for fantasy, which shows itself at a very early age and then continues to make all sorts of contributions to our intellectual and emotional life throughout the lifespan. To give you some examples, imagination helps us to make causal judgments about how things might have turned out differently. If something goes wrong in life, then we ask ourselves where we went wrong. The imagination allows us to engage in thinking about alternatives in this prosaic form. In making moral judgments we also think about alternatives. We look at something that has happened and we ask how it could have been done better or differently. And again we are exercising our imagination.”

Imaginary play is important work for our children and as teachers it is so important that we foster this. We do this here by providing beautiful, interesting spaces full of resources that capture the imagination. The Princes and Princesses of the Mairtown Kingdom are on a journey, learning about their worlds, expressing their knowledge, ideas and thoughts whilst having fun along the way.


Written by Zair Taylor

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