When you give children new items to interact with, it’s such a joy to witness all the kinds of imaginative games and uses for them they create. So when it came time to try out our new Halfmoon bundles, that’s what we did. These are items made of 100% cotton and linen and designed to create warmth and comfort in your learning space and provide everything you need to introduce yoga or mindfulness to children. These items also provide wonderful open-ended play props as well. It was this last part we really wanted to offer children; a fresh set of play invitations using items from these bundles. We knew that even the cushions could provide all kinds of possibilities from seating, to quiet reading, to nap time, to props for dramatic play. But we really wanted to learn directly from the children themselves how they interacted with them, and how they fostered their creativity.
To this end, we partnered with a wonderful preschool we’ve worked with for a long time, AKIDEMY, based in Alberta, Canada, and simply sent them the cushions, bolsters and blankets you’ll see in the images below, with the only instruction being ‘to play.’ This is what the AKIDEMY partners, Tristan Katz and Dina Ottoni-Battistessa shared with us about the experience.
At AKIDEMY Preschool, the toys and materials that we bring into our program are chosen thoughtfully and intentionally. We consider if the items offer significant play value, and always lean toward those that are aesthetically pleasing to complement our classrooms. We love when “children’s items” are provided the same care and attention that their adult-sized versions are given.
When the teachers and children opened the packages with the Half Moon/Natural Pod cushions and bolsters everyone was excited to dive in! Immediately, the beautiful fabrication and quality of materials were evident.
The children’s imagination was immediately ignited! They brainstormed ideas of how to use the cushions; a hockey rink, a tower, a house, a couch, a bed, a platform for play, and gymnastics! It was incredible to see the multiple uses that these items have. Because we don’t (unfortunately!) have endless storage space, we always look for items that can be used in multiple ways.
This type of self-directed play is key to children’s development. It allows children, of multiple age groups and stages of development, to work through various concepts at a rate that meets their individual needs.
Through this exercise of brainstorming, children practice taking a leadership role, thinking critically, and self-regulating. This process of negotiation and compromise help children develop social skills and emotional awareness of their peers, all the cornerstones of respectful communication.
They were also incredibly active in their play; lifting, hauling, laying, jumping, and skating. This is incredibly beneficial, especially when it gets to be more difficult to get outside, in our cold winter months.
We are sure our new items from Natural Pod will get a multitude of uses over the years, becoming one of our favorite classroom additions! – Tristan and Dina