• Practice plopping.
We introduced the term plop in our book
Let Them Play. When you plop, you simply
put the activity ingredients out for the kids
to discover and then step back and wait
to see what happens. We use plop a lot
throughout this book because it’s our fa-
vorite way to share new play ideas with the
children. • Hide the ingredients.
Think of this as clandestine plopping. Don’t
plop the materials or prompts out in the
open. Instead, use your imagination and
make discovering the new activity an ad-
venture in and of itself for the children. For
example, hide activity materials around the
playroom, let the kids unearth them as they
play, and then watch the adventure unfold.
• Use books and songs.
We’ve included a list of related books and songs in each activity that you can
use to introduce the activity to the kids (or to support their play and learning
after the activity).
• Experiment with Mystery Words.
Use the ideas outlined in chapter 1: Mystery Word (page 1) to introduce vocab-
ulary that will lead the children into an activity.
What are kids learning while they play?
Children’s learning is heavily influenced by their past experiences—the
knowledge, understanding, and skills they bring to their play—so we can’t
simply itemize everything an individual child will learn from each activity in
this book. What we can tell you, though, is the learning the children might
naturally encounter during each one of the activities. The thing is, whereas
adults like to sort and classify learning into orderly systems, kids learn all
kinds of things all the time. For example, a pair of young children playing
with a box of toothpicks and a pile of clay are developing physical skills,
social skills, personal skills, math skills, language skills, and thinking skills.
Don’t worry, kids are wired to learn through play, so if you trust them, follow
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