The maker movement and helping kids to think about science and problem solving are important.
Read Amazing Grace, a picture book that puts all of those notions aside and reminds about the power of play. Ma and Nana, the adults in Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Caroline Binch, respond in just the right way to encourage Grace, a girl with a big imagination.
The story is common. A kid dares to share an idea, and others say that it can't be done. The adults provide a bigger perspective by taking Grace to see a dancer who defied the odds. In the end it is Grace herself who keeps dreaming and working on part so she is selected to play the role of Peter Pan is a class production.
What Adults Can Do
Let's look specifically at what the adults do to support the imagination of Grace.
1. Nana shared stories with Grace as a regular practice
2. Grace had a lot of unstructured time to dream and imagine. It is implied but it seems as if the adults allowed for imaginative play.
3. Nana and Ma would participate in the imaginative play. They would pretend to be patients for Dr. Grace.
4. Ma noticed that Grace was upset about something and asked.
5. When Grace said that kids had told her she couldn't be Peter Pan, Ma gave another opinion.
6. Nana took Grace to see a dancer.
7. Nana told Grace the story of the dancer who she knew from "back home in Trinidad."
8. After Grace was successful in the role of Peter Pan, Nana affirmed, "If Grace put her mind to it, she can do anything she want."
9. There was no television or screens in the illustrations. Of course the book was written before the days of multiple devices, but it implicitly reminds us about good old fashioned play.
The Value of Imaginative Play
When we allow kids the time and space to play without screens, we support growth of the part of the brain that can imagine a new future. You can see the impact in the story of Grace. She was used to pretending so she could see herself as Peter Pan, even though others were suggesting otherwise. Our job is to give kids the space to dream so they can be inspired to solve the problems of tomorrow.
Cup of Leadership is...
is a blog for people who lead children.
Deanne Bryce is a writer for young children and an advocate for personal leadership at all ages. This post is part of a project called Book Drops for Kids. The project promotes using picture books to inspire interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) thinking.
At least once a month a picture book is purchased from an independent book store and “dropped” in a little free library to for someone to use. STEM lesson plans for these books are posted on Cup of Leadership. Check the Facebook page to see other books that have been dropped.