November 23, 2020
Yes, the pandemic has changed nearly everything. Most people would say it is for the worse, but with every situation there is a silver lining. Play has exploded at Riverbend this fall. Due to the pandemic we have had to limit contact with traditional play structures. We knew that once the kids got back to school they would crave exercise and free play. How could we accomplish this with less, not more? We did so with teacher ingenuity and the fortuitous bounce of more open space.
In the Children’s House the teachers, led by Ms. Heather and Ms. Janey, put their heads together to create zones of free play that would allow kids to engage in activities in their own pods and experience creativity. And the mud kitchen was born. The mud kitchen is just one of many zones where kids can play using natural items, stumps, and fabric, combined with ride-on toys, trucks, PVC tubing … you name it! It was set up so kids can play safely and experientially.
In the Upper School, space is the name of the game. The new quad, the large wood chip space, and the back field (where the grass is filling in very nicely) are all spaces that are being utilized to their fullest extent. There is freedom to roam and run. No play structures, only balls, tires, racquets, bocce, and other assorted PE toys to entertain the students. Although we were expecting complaints, we have only observed unbridled joy and creativity. Our Montessori children have been true to their colors in that they have adapted and gotten creative … and, in fact, they have had more fun at recess than ever before.
The byproducts have been multiple: Students are getting more exercise, they are running more, and creativity has skyrocketed. Being outside and having to use your imagination makes for a powerful mixture. Less stereotypical gender play has also been observed—girls moving earth, boys inventing apparel with fabric.
So yes, play has exploded at Riverbend this fall, and these new developments have the potential to change how we approach play forever.