Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Block Play

Aurora's been rockin' the block area lately. It's by far her favorite place to play. And, as you can see in the picture below, it makes her very happy. Here, behind her, she's built a house for Nee Nee, complete with furnishings including games, a ball, and a bowl. Please ignore the rest of the clutter and randomly placed pajamas ;)

Ever since we got back from Disneyland in March, we see Micky popping up everywhere. These are Aurora's block renditions of Mickey and Minnie. As you can see, they both have the requisite ears, the block between the ears is a hat, the narrow rectangle on the wider one is a mouth, and at the bottom of course are legs.

A 'people' complete with eyes, nose, mouth, arms and legs. In looking at young children's art, drawing a large head with protruding limbs is a clear developmental step. Aurora is far from this in her drawings, but I thought it interesting to find the same pattern emerge in her block play.

Aurora very proud of her fancy block 'shoes'. To the left is another Mickey, who's wearing fancy block shoes as well.

Thought this was a pretty cool little structure.... Now, I know I'm biased being her mama and all that, but I think, architectually, she's channeling a little I.M. Pei here a la Johnson Museum @ Cornell.
I look at the above picture and marvel at the mathmatical and spacial learning taking place there. Which then saddens me as I hear that block areas are more and more frequently being replaced by desks, worksheets and computers in kindergarten classrooms. Sigh.

Now, having spent a number of years working in early childhood education, I know that if you look into the block area of just about any preschool classroom, you will generally find mostly boys there. This is a divide that occurs naturally by the children themselves, and you will find dedicated teachers working to creatively draw the girls into the block/cars/manipulatives, and the boys over to the dress up/housekeeping/art. I have full faith that Aurora's teachers will be doing this this coming Fall. But, as we all know, despite much progress in many areas, there is still A LOT of gender stereotyping that takes place in our culture. And there's a part of me that's a little afraid, that despite all our encouragement, Aurora will walk into her classroom in September, see that the girls are all playing with dolls and only the boys are playing with the blocks and somehow feel that it's not okay for her to join them. And, man, do I hope I'm wrong. I just don't want to see her passion squelched, ya know?

Ah, well, steppin' down off the soapbox now ;)

BTW, Aurora's off happily building to her heart's content in our block area now :)

Silver Sands S.P.

First real day of the beach season for us. Love this state park in Milford, about half an hour from us.... anticipating many wonderful summer days spent here with friends and family. A large sand bar not far off the coast makes for very gentle, toddler friendly, shallow water play and during low tide, you can walk out along a sand bar to this really cool forested island. We've yet to try this yet, as it's a bit of a trek for Aurora, and we keep forgetting to bring the Ergo along with us so she doesn't have to walk it all. Maybe next time.