Thursday, May 17, 2012

Definite Boundaries

When reading about encouraging creativity, a common theme is allowing kids to make mess. This is not something I am against. In fact I actively encourage it, but then B is not particularly messy. Even so, I like the idea of allowing mess within boundaries, as all art needs a frame - especially a two year old’s first attempts at abstract art.

One lovely sunny afternoon my son was being the artist with his diggers and trucks on the balcony. The dirt I had given him was finding it’s way across the whole area. It was the first time I’d managed to get out there this Spring so I really wanted to give it a good tidy and clean. The mess spread, my sweeping became pointless and my patience was waning.

Then I found the chalk. The previous few days had been all about shapes, so I drew some more for him. A very big square. I called it his mess box and swept all his dirt into it. He then insisted on boxes for all his vehicles. It was a serious task as all vehicles need a good parking place, don’t they? And after that he was happy to play in his mess box long enough for me to clean the balcony.

As he played in his box, I saw how he had to find solutions to his games: Roads had to be rerouted, building sites contained and footsteps carefully placed. I’m not sure, but maybe he made more mess than usual because he had his very own mess box.

B did these things:
  • Talked about shapes and sizes when measuring all the boxes we drew
  • Found a way to play within a restricted zone
  • Moved his body in news ways as he navigated the small(ish) space
  • Created new storylines for his diggers, cars and buses
  • Gained some confidence in his own independence while he played alone
  • Enjoyed making a mess within a set boundary

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