I discourage the children from bringing toys from home to play with here. We already have a wide variety of toys and equipment for the children to use and because we have a mixed age group I have to ensure that all toys in the playroom are suitable for all ages. I don’t like being the ‘border patrol’ standing at the entrance saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to each child that asks if they can take bring an item in to play with. So, I keep the rules simple;
- Stuffed animals and dolls are OK if they have no accessories.
- Anyone can play with the toy when it is in the playroom – if you don’t want others to touch it, put it in your bin.
- Anything else can be shared with the group at circle time.
I sometimes refer to it as ‘Show and Tell’ but I don’t really include it as a structured part of the daily schedule. I remember the reactions my own children had with show and tell or whatever the individual teacher called it in their class. Throughout elementary school they had many opportunities to share things from home with their friends at school. For most it was something that they looked forward to but often it was stressful.
Sometimes there was something they really wanted to bring but it wasn’t their day. Sometimes it was their day and they couldn’t decide what to bring and there was a mad scramble to find something. The worst days were the ones when we forgot it was their day, they didn’t bring anything, and there was no second chance – in some classes each student only got one chance each year.
In my childcare home we have always have an opportunity for the children to share things during circle time. As we gather around the table to discuss the weather and calendar the children are all welcome to share stories about what they did over the weekend or upcoming plans. If they have props to accompany the story or just an item they want to show the others they are encouraged to.
Anyone is welcome to share, no one is forced to share, and no one is excluded from sharing.
I leave the format up to the individual child who is sharing. If they want to pass the item around the circle they may. If they prefer that others do not touch it then they can just hold it and tell us about it. They can allow the others to ask questions or request that they not interrupt. They are in charge of the program planning for their sharing session.
I love to watch the interaction between the children as they engage in these activities. Whether they are leading or observing I gain insight into their interests and personalities. They gain experience participating in various roles within the group, leaning new skills and planning their own curriculum.