Hotel play suggests two immediate roles - the receptionist and the guest. Two great (potentially new) words to learn and then the exploration of the different conversations both roles can engage in. But there are so many other opportunities - the cleaner, the valet, the concierge (remember our common theme is having ‘big people’ model and extend play if children are ready for these more specific roles even without experience of them). Have the guests actually driven up to the hotel (or have they arrived by plane). A welcome smile for hotel staff is needed to greet the new guests and check if they have made a reservation?
The hotel elevator is always a highlight, sparking fierce negotiation over who gets to “push” the button this time, number recognition practice as the smallest is encouraged to find the floor we need (once she has won the negotiation to push the button), the greeting of new people into the lift and assisting new arrivals by selecting their floor for them.
How much in play learning did you see and inspire at your hotel today?
Side note: Sharna’s children were so inspired by plane and hotel pretend play they took over the house for three days and made everyone engage in the fun. Everyone wanted to stay in the most luxurious suite aka the parent’s bedroom.
Play is contagious - we hope you catch it!
To help you catch it the first 20 blog readers can download the Hotel DIY Guide for free from our shop using this code 4V7EM3JZ - if you are one of the first 20 you will just need to select to buy the item and at that point you will be asked for the discount code to be able to download it for free.
"The wider the range of opportunities we offer children, the more intense will be their motivations and the richer their experiences."
The joy of children acting out real or imaginary events in pretend play provides an environment rich for learning. This was certainly our experience at our launch of Let's Pretend Play at the recent Early Childhood Play date. We are passionate about expanding pretend play opportunities from single pretend scenarios to combinations of play scenarios that complement each other and allow children to create more elaborate and extensive play scripts. We also know that occasionally a ‘bigger person’ can add increased creativity with gentle suggestions and extensions. So what did we see when we offered children of all different ages (and their parents) the scope to explore three of our play pods? Lots and lots of fun and talking, not to mention creativity!
A second tiny one stood out when she became completely fascinated by the display of tiny apples in the hotel reception. Initially happy to play and manipulate the apples in and out of the bowl, this soon changed to play in any other areas with the apples - so they were baked in the pizza oven and put in various designs on a nearby tray. A wonderful example of the conversation skill of ‘taunting’ was on display as she removed the apples once more from the hotel and walked away from mum, with glances over her shoulder to demonstrate that despite mum’s many requests to bring them back - mum was going to have to come and get them. So many examples of children’s imagination, creativity and capacity to attend for long periods of time in play were visible on the day.
Bodrova (2008) makes the point that developing ‘mature play’ is at considerable risk in our present environments for many reasons including the reduction in the numbers of children of a wide range of ages playing together;
‘in the past, most play existed in multi‐aged groups where children had an opportunity to learn from older ‘play experts’, practice their play skills with the peers of the same age and then pass their knowledge on to the ‘play novices’.
It was a highlight of our day to watch the play experts (mostly 7-9 year olds) not only staying engaged in complex play routines but encouraging the younger peers to extend their own roles, routines and conversations. We were so lucky to be a part of an amazing event and left even more inspired to continue to create structures that foster dramatic and extensive pretend play routines.
As three sisters our family get togethers often turned into discussions of grand ideas that would save the world or at the very least help some of the children having a difficult journey through early childhood and school. When you combine two teachers with quite different strengths and a speech pathologist who prefers to push the allied health world a little bit off kilter, it was always an energetic and creative collation of opinions and plans. We knew we would eventually do something together. Although never very clear on what that ’something’ would be we always knew it would focus on fun, learning and language.
But our ‘something’ - Let’s Pretend Play - took on a bit more impetus for us after near tragedy. In 2016, our worlds were thrown into disarray when Sharna’s beautiful youngest 16 month old daughter fell ill in Thailand. An 8 day holiday became an 8 week nightmare, when she was air-lifted from Phuket to Bangkok where she would remain on life support for more than 4 weeks.