We’re Going On A Bear Hunt

We watched this production which was part of the KidsFest, and I was impressed by the different use of sensory experiences as part of the performance.

In the story, the family went through quite a few terrains in their search for a bear. These terrains were ingeniously presented to the audience –

Long wavy grass: Curtains of green paper

Deep cold river: Pails of water for the performers to step into, and water guns which they sprayed mercilessly into the audience! REAL water in a theatre!

Big dark forest: Trees made of cardboard boxes

Snowstorm: Another of my favorites. Mainly used lighting effects. Something like a disco ball? Small round white patches of light, plus sound effects for wind, a very convincing snowstorm!

Thick oozy mud: Simple brown paint. We were inspired to do the same!


Imagine and Pretend

Knights. Dragons. Pirates. Giants. Fairies. Robots. Superheroes.

How does a four-year-old gain access to these worlds???

I think it’s very important for a young child to have enough brain exercise – in the form of imagination and pretend play. But how can he even KNOW about such things? As of now, he has no clue about Transformers or Spiderman or Superman or Batman. And only recently he started reading Mike the Knight books and watching the DVD.

Other than brain stimulation, I firmly believe that a child needs to have fantasy worlds to escape to, to seek solace in. Fantasy worlds are also places where the child has absolute power and control over what will happen next.

Passion. Another important reason for my wish to encourage and support the boys’ play, though passion is not limited to play. I very much hope that the kids can and will feel strongly enough for something to be obsessed about it, to expend large amounts of time and energy on it, to lose sleep over it, to do think feel live it every second of the day. (I might regret it when they really become obsessive-compulsive, but well, even a mother needs to have dreams and ideals :P)

(Might be a bit far-fetched, but I am thinking, children who are discouraged from being passionate about something they like, usually some form of play or play thing, are likely to grow up into apathetic adults, aren’t they? And I do not want my children to be simply bo-chup (Singlish, means couldn’t care less) people. I want them to have their own opinions and be resolved and committed to a stand on values/issues. And childhood play is a good place to start, isn’t it?)

So far, the boys’ pretend play has been largely limited to occupations – firefighter, doctor, police. And they take care of their ‘babies’ and dish up ‘yummy foods’. Not that they must pretend play to be superheroes, but I feel it my responsibility (as a homeschooling sahm!) to at least expose them to more characters. If they do not pick up on it after being introduced to a new character, it’s very much up to them.

I have tried to read non-fiction books about knights and castles with the boys before, but they were not really interested. I guess they will be more engaged if they get to see them in action, either in real life or on television. Rather hard to find knights in Singapore, so we shall settle for animation for now 😛

At the same time, I also have to limit the amount of television the kids are watching (half an hour a day on weekdays, more on weekends if I have time to sit down and watch with them). Television should just provide an introduction to the topic, then reinforced via books and play.

I mean, how can a boy grow up not knowing about superheroes and Transformers, right??

For now, his tried and tested and much loved retreat is Sodor Island!

For now, his tried and tested and much loved retreat is Sodor Island!


Sticker Play

.. is pretend play too! I like to give the boys stickers of different scenarios, and listen to them spin a story as they paste the stickers. It is somewhat similar to them playing with masak masak cooking toys or a toy stethoscope, but less messy!

Of course, sticker play has the usual benefit of practising fine motor skills, as it is not always easy to peel off the smaller stickers or get the stickier ones to obediently leave the fingers and remain on the paper.

Recently, the boys have also started to combine their drawing/colouring with sticker play. What they usually do is they paste the stickers, telling a story as they go, and when they finish the stickers (they are only allowed one sheet of stickers each a day), they paint on the same piece of paper and elaborate on their stories.

Storytelling works the imagination, pasting the stickers works their fingers, two-in-one!