Circumstance? Need? Creative expression? Connection to something outside ourselves? What is the pull that brings humans to invent?
On this day there were two things at work. One was most definitely social connection. Two three-year olds busied themselves transporting and tucking key bits of our small Poly M collection in our dramatic play space's kitchen cabinets along with pieces of paper they call their "battle plans." Their huddled whispered scooting from one room to another alerted me that there was some plan afoot.
Teachers make a million split second decisions over the course of the day. This is one of my favorite parts of my job. Watching this scoot and stash and deciding to make room for it was one of the split second decisions. Let's see how this would play out.
Later, when the first group of children went into that room for our scaffolded dramatic play session the initial plot these two were planning lost steam because only one of them went into the room with that group. There was a plan they had plotted together that could no longer be executed. Snack was especially good that day and the one needed to stay and eat while the other one got through snack quickly. This "alone" circumstance and finding himself as one half of the duo, led him to ask for tape..."To lock everything up."
A little reminder: The best part of this story is that when we do our jobs right, children are able to feel that they live alone on their very own planet. We are just there to buy groceries. So when he asked me for tape to lock everything up, I just gave him tape, but because I know a bit about play, I gave him plastic tape instead of masking tape.
Things were sorted and safe, but the need to actually execute whatever plan they had hatched was more compelling than just keeping things locked up for later. And then something new happened. Because there was tape which had not been part of the plan before. We introduced a new idea to the play arc. And it was plastic tape. And there are other problems to solve in that room, like . . .
Evil-eyed, mad bunnies.
We can notice some things, but we don't notice others. There are a collection of stuffed rabbits in our imaginary play room and I always viewed these two simply as twin bunnies. Oh how sweet is the space adults land in, all peaches and cream, but in the meantime, this child could plainly see that these rabbits have "angry eyes, see?" He held up the bunny to prove his point. Another child picked up the other one and confirmed, "Evil eyes," nodding and then growling, eyebrows furrowed in a very realistic imitation of the evil-eyed, mad bunny twins.
Obviously that mad, evil-eyed bunny needed to go to bed and it needed a better bed than what it had already, wherever that was!
This invention, this idea, this play message was so compelling that OF COURSE when the older children came in the afternoon, I suggested that they check out the angry bunny bed. And that was that. The tape came out and inventions for all the pets in the school rolled out along with an instrument or two.