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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET so that children can discover it, play with it, explore it, and learn from it on their own, in their own way. You can plop things in the middle of the room for easy and immediate discovery, or you can plop them on a shelf for eventual discovery. Plops can happen any time of the day and in any place. The key is to step back and observe once you’ve plopped the plop. Note that just because something is plopped does not guarantee children will choose to engage with it. Why should I step back? The simple act of giving kids some space and not hovering shows them you trust them as competent and capable learners. We recommend you step back and allow the children to lead their own play, exploration, and discovery. You also put your- self in a great position to observe the unique curriculum that flows from each child. How far you step back depends on things like how old the children are, how well you know them, how tired or hungry they are, how many of them there are, how well they know each other, and what materials are involved. For example, you can back off a lot more with a pair of schoolagers who have played together since they were three years old than you can with a half-dozen hungry and tired toddlers. Stepping back does not mean abandoning the children. You need to be nearby to ensure their safety and support their play as needed. How should I organize the kids when we do a new activity? We suggest you allow for child-led self-organization whenever possible. Back in the day, kids were good at self-organizing (“bubble gum, bubble gum, in a dish . . .”). Trust kids with this task and support their efforts as needed. How involved should kids be with preparing the projects? As involved as possible. Let the kids lead. Allow them to own the doing. The more they do, the more they learn. What if kids do it wrong? Don’t worry if kids take the activities we suggest in different directions. The activities are starting points, and there is no wrong way for their play to unfold. Remember, play is in the child, not the toy. Kids will bring their own experience, thought processes, creativity, and knowledge base to the materials. That means 4 Introduction: Social Play COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL