It starts with cleaning.
Where does all the sand come from!?!?!? There are a lot of exasperated sighs followed by the cleaners searching for scrub brushes, brooms, and water, anything to clean this mess up! Muddy water usually works best. The walls, inside and out, are the first things to get scrubbed. The sand and wood chip piles on the floor and shelves are soon forgotten -- How do these walls get so dirty, the children wonder?
At some point during the scrubbing, the purpose shifts from cleaning to painting the walls. All the while, there is talk and planning about what will happen next in the Teahouse once it is cleaned and painted.
Children's play is sourced by ideas, informed by interests and things they know to be true. The spaces and things in the environment provide context. These offer the props and the backdrop. With a group of children, the play features mutual and overlapping agreements and disagreements.
What is really cool about watching children in the same space over time is that there is a HISTORY of play, passed down from older child to younger child through story.
That is Bob's.
Bob's is something that only happens during summer camp sessions and it is all the more amazing because a whole year divides the sessions. Each year, children get re-wrapped and wrapped up in Bob-ness. And even though children age out each year (the camp is for children, ages 5 through 10) there is always a handful of children who bring the story of Bob with them and it is fascinating that some kind of Bob's has been present every year since 2014.
On every playground or forest, field, desert, seashore landscape there is some kind of play lore like Bob's that unfolds and adults can't really know about it unless they watch and listen. There is no need to hover though. It is a "rest assured" moment because most likely you have a story or two from your own childhood of play lore that was gifted to you by context or other child. Think on that, and savor it for a moment. We all have a bit of Bob-ness in us!
Books that provide context and inspiration for children's shared play histories and lore.