During our outdoor play time one of the children built an interesting structure. When I asked what it was she replied “A fire” The other children had been playing a follow-the-leader/obstacle course game and asked her if they could use her ‘fire’ to set off their ‘fireworks’. She agreed so they built an extension to channel the fire to the fireworks station.
The obstacle course was redesigned — over the balance beam, across the walkway, jump on and off the log, and complete a circle on the stepping stones. One by one they tried the course while the spectators watched from the log seats.
After each successfully completed course the imaginary fireworks were triggered and the audience applauded. They adapted the course for the age and skill level of the participant. The baby didn’t have to complete the whole course without touching the gravel area as the others had to. If the course was too easy for some they had to complete more laps in order to trigger the fireworks. Bonus fireworks were awarded for doing spins or fancy tricks along the way.
This is the power of free play. An independent building project evolved into gross motor activity that enhanced social skills and creativity for the whole group. It was better than anything I could have planned.