I thought I’d write about paint or paper or fabric today, but as we made our way through the day, it became clear that the my kids crave a few ‘materials’ above all others – open time and space to play with other kids.
We’d spent part of the morning at the library and were about to head home for lunch. They noticed the playground west of the library and begged to stay, just for a few minutes. Sam had run into a couple of buddies at the library, so he invited them along. The four kids ran to the playground like their lives depended on it. The weather was chilly and the landscape fairly barren, but they immediately threw off their shoes and jackets and got to work. The main attraction was a tire swing, the type that hangs from three chains and can spin delightfully fast. And that was their material for the next thirty minutes. They negotiated time, space, and speed. They stayed warm by laughing. Age and gender didn’t matter, as long as you were down with spinning.
The tire swing team reminded me that the best materials are all around us, and they can be rediscovered by setting aside the iPads and even the art supplies. Take an outdoor space, add kids, and then add time. The result won’t be clean or predictable, and that’s how we learn.