February 07, 2007
Ceiling fans can be fun
My kids and their friends have always been good at inventing games and making their own fun. One time on a hot summer night, for instance, I came home to find that the kids had built a swimming pool. They'd taken long logs that hadn't yet been cut into fireplace-sized pieces, piled the logs crisscross like you would to make a log cabin, and then covered that with any plastic they could find, including all of our shower curtains. Because they wanted a luxurious heated pool, they duct taped the garden hose to the kitchen faucet and turned on the hot water. The pool was pretty shallow, maybe a foot deep altogether, but Blonde Niece, Shaggy Hair Boy, and With-a-Why, who were pretty small then, had fun splashing around until the mosquitoes drove them inside.
Indoor sledding was another game the kids played when they were little. They would take all the blankets and pillows in the house and pile them on the staircase until it was a steep, slippery hill of bedding. Then they would ride down on a plastic toboggan, screaming in delight. As the kids got older, the games got more elaborate. My daughter and her friends used to turn the kitchen linoleum into a skating rink by rubbing the floor with margerine and the sliding across in their bare feet. Boy in Black and his friends went through a winter of fire experiments in the backyard that involved all kinds of flammable items. I figure it's safe to let them play with fire so long as we have at least a foot of snow on the roof.
Play is vital to learning, so I usually don't veto anything unless it looks like someone might get hurt. Playing teaches us science, math, and how the physical world works. Play is important for problem-solving, for analytical thinking, and for creativity. Besides, I think the kind of science experiments my kids come up with are cool. It's fun to duct tape things to a ceiling fan and then turn it on to see what happens. Toilet paper – which is lightweight and readily available – creates a lovely effect when it's taped to ceiling fan.
Posted by jo(e)