Archive for the ‘Play’ Category

Exploring

I’m been thinking about exploring for a little while now. Specifically, I’m been thinking about what captures the imagination of kids and inspires them to explore when they get older. I remember my dad coming home when I was 9 with a copy of the Toronto Sun declaring that the Titanic had been found. It was a profound experience in my life: someone had explored the depths of the ocean and had found a ship lost for generations.

Titanic Found

In the 1980s, there was still an active space program and, suddenly, an active program exploring the seas.  The world around me was exciting and I read everything that I could about sea exploration.  When Bob Ballard, who found the Titanic, was mapping a shipwreck at the bottom of Lake Ontario, I was one of thousands of school kids who got to watch via telepresence – an early form of taking part in a webinar.  I actually got to speak to one of my heroes!  In short, exploration was in my blood and, it should be of little surprise that my own play was about exploring and, as I grew older, I explored farther and farther afield. As an adult, I identify with exploring as a way of life and always try to keep moving our society forward.

So, where does the next generation of explorers come from? It’s true that there are still rocket launches and sea explorers, but it doesn’t hit our collective conciousness in the same way.  I think that it’s up to all of us to inspire children to explore the world around them. Give them a magnifying glass and a notebook. Get them a bird book and ask them to keep track of what they see. Give them a map and see if they can figure out where they are. Make them the navigators on your next road trip (take extra gas) and see where you end up.

I don’t know what the next frontier of exploration is going to be, but I know that if we don’t keep inspiring our children to look farther afield, just over the next horizon, we will never get there.  Exploring is a part of our nature, but we have to nurture it, or it will disappear.

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Heavy lifting

Pretty early on in our son’s life, we started to teach him that picking up rocks was a lot of fun.  I like rocks and I feel like that can help anchor you with a sense of place.  I have rocks from the beach where I proposed to my wife, canoe trips and, somewhere, even a rock that was slipped into my backpack when I was a canoe guide.  I carried that rock for ten days in an act of ill advised bravado.

Our son has taken to picking up rocks and stacking them, calling them a part of his collection and playing with them.  When he’s older, we’ll be able to look at rocks together and figure out where they came from.  We’ll be able to learn about the earth together.

Sonner than that, I’ll be able to teach him to skip stones (some kids don’t know how to do that anymore) and enjoy looking at water and the splashes that our little rocks make when we don’t quite make it.

For now, though, I’ll just enjoy watching him collect up the rocks, get a bit dirty and have fun outdoors.

 

Of sports and such

I joined a rec league beach volleyball team this year. I’m having a lot of fun at it and this is presenting a dilemma for me – I’ve been a pretty strong opponent of organized sports the last few years because of the research out there that shown they rob kids of the ability to learn to play. That doesn’t mean that I’m anti-sport, I’m just not convinced that signing your kids up for league team sports are the way to go.

Instead, I think that there is tremendous value in kicking around a soccer ball with your kids in the local park, making up rules and developing a culture where playing outdoors in an unstructured way is a part of your lives.

I think that rec leagues are a part of that. As long as kids aren’t organized every time that they play, there probably isn’t much harm in them. I’m still not sure that they are a good idea for five year olds, but my mind is opening a bit.