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COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL A Note to Readers Joining play that’s already under way can be hard for some children. Rita wants to join Jayden and Michi, but she doesn’t know how. Sometimes adults forget that joining play requires some fairly sophisticated skills. Children need to read body language accurately. They must listen to figure out what the others are playing. Finally, they must play a role that fits the situation, talking to the others in that role and addressing them in their own particular roles. It takes time and practice to learn these skills. You can help by modeling behaviors children can use to enter play. One of the best ways to help young children who are having trouble entering play is to act as a playmate and to demonstrate how to join in. In Rita and the Firefighters, for example, Johanna helps Rita ease into the boys’ play by asking if the kitty can take a nap in their fire truck. Johanna creates a role for Rita that works within the context of the firefighter play, and then Rita joins in. We hope Rita and the Firefighters helps children consider the different ways they can join the play going on around them. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL