Category Archives: Play


We have many different types of blocks.  I can not have them all out at the same time — there simply isn’t enough room.  I rotate the various block sets so we have a chance to try them all.  The wooden blocks are the most popular.

‘Towers’ are the favorite thing to build.  Sometimes it is all about the height;

Sometimes there is more detail;

Often, once we master a new feature we like to include it in all our buildings;

And combine features together;

Until they become more than just a tower — this one is a ‘camera’

This ‘tower’ eventually became a ‘wall’;

And this one is an amazing caslte;

But the towers don’t just get built in the block area.  There are some in the housekeeping area too.

And outside where there are exciting new elements available;

But my favourite thing about towers is that they are magnetic.  No matter who starts building a tower it will ultimately become a group project.  From “Can I help you?” to “Can you pass me that piece?” to “Hey, maybe we can use this.” towers build collaboration and cooperation.


Last week I attended the Manitoba Child Care Association’s 34th annual conference.  I eagerly anticipate this conference every year.  Originally I just went on Saturday but I soon added Friday and then Thursday as well.  I know many providers believe it is too expensive to pay for three days of conference and lose two days of income as well.  The cost adds up to nearly $600 and it cuts my weekend ‘down time’ in half but there are so many benefits as well.

Conference is an incredible learning opportunity with keynote speakers and workshop presenters from near and far.  This year I enjoyed a wide variety of workshops with topics including art, science, music, outdoor play, physical activity, fear and much more.  I got to paint pictures, play in dirt, engage in conversations, and use my imagination. I got to dance and I was introduced to my new favourite song – “Beep, Beep” – which is actually an old song but it is new to me and what a wonderful way to teach rhythm and tempo.

Certainly there was a lot of information that I already knew but conference offers more than just information. There is another very meaningful aspect; networking.  I believe that for family childcare providers in particular networking is an invaluable tool.  We work alone and even though some providers regularly connect with others in their area many still continue to work in isolation.  Family childcare providers don’t have a lot of opportunity to problem solve with or bounce ideas off coworkers the same way those who work in centres can.

Conference allows us to connect with not only others who work in similar positions but also with people who work in other areas of the childcare field.  Play and collaboration with peers is just as important for us as it is for the children that we care for.  It is how we learn, how we reach the elusive ‘Ah Hah’ moment.

In between presentations on the final day of conference I had the opportunity to reconnect with a colleague whom I hadn’t talked to in a long time.  We did some reminiscing and discussed how things had changed since we last met.  I told her how I was looking forward to some new adventures this summer since I will have on of the oldest groups I have ever had.  She shared some stories about the antics of one of her school–age children.

Our conversation progressed as we contemplated why the school-age children seem so different now.  We weren’t complaining but we have noticed a shift in the mood of most of the older children that have been attending our programs. They seem to really enjoy being a part of our mixed age groups.  They willingly participate in activities with the younger children instead of demanding separate more ‘grown-up’ activities.

We wondered if it was because we are seeing more ‘only children’ with little experience with young children.  Do they miss having younger siblings?  Then I asked if maybe it was because we let them play….There was a moment of silence as we let this fact sink in.  Yes, I think that is what it is.

We know that play is essential for learning to take place and it doesn’t matter how old you are.  Play is just as important for us as it is for the children we care for. Play and learning together – that is what conference is.

Hide & Seek

We don’t play ‘real’ Hide & Seek in my house – you know, the kind where the children hide and whoever is ‘it’ has to find them etc.  Mostly this is because I consider it to be an outdoor game like tag and in order to play it in my house I’d have a rule list that would be too extensive to remember.  Also, the children don’t think there are any ‘good’ hiding spots – I know of some but I won’t tell them where they are.

However, we do have a popular version of Hide & Seek that we play often.  It originated around Easter many years ago when I added little plastic Easter eggs to one of the loose parts bins and the children used them for Easter egg hunts.  They devised their own rules and the cooperation and imagination they demonstrated was amazing.

They were somewhat disappointed when the eggs went back into storage and something else was brought out.  They were not dissuaded though.  They found other small items to use and modified the game accordingly.  Since then not a week goes by without someone suggesting a game of “Hide the …(insert name of chosen items here)” and everyone participates.

Sometimes they play a shell type game where one child hides a smaller item – like a block – under one of several inverted bowls or cups and then the other children try to find it.

Each Spring I bring out the eggs again – not too early or for too long or the excitement of egg hunting might wear off.  This year I brought them out at the beginning of April and I did something a little different.  Instead of just putting the eggs loose in a bin, I put them in Styrofoam egg cartons – I currently have no infants enrolled so I didn’t need to be concerned about the cartons getting chewed on.

I’m not sure if it was the addition of the egg cartons or the developmental changes that the children have experienced in the past year but the plastic egg play is very different.

Interestingly, some of the children still like to hide the eggs but no one will look for them.  Seriously, I’m getting tired of trying to located missing eggs!  There should be 36 of them.  We know because the children like to sort and arrange them by color in the cartons and if there is one missing it wrecks the pattern.

They also like to cook with the eggs,

And have picnics, or use them as cargo for their crane.

Basically any activity other than hunting for them! I don’t get it, but as long as they are having fun that’s OK.