Recently there has been a movement to reintroduce natural playthings, playscapes, and to end the beeping light-up electronic big box madness in preschool classrooms.
There are many reasons:
- The environmental impact of filling our lives with plastic has created devastating effects on our planet. It's time to go back to things made from natural products.
- Free thinking imaginations are quickly becoming a thing of the past. If they didn't learn it from their leap pad, it must not exist. Dolls of all kinds, clear down to the Little People, which used to be round plastic pegs with round heads that might be different colors, or wearing a fire hat or a construction helmet. They were very simple.
- Simplifying children's lives. Sensory should be a learning experience, not an overwhelming moment that sends children into automatic melt down. They are bombarded with iPods, iPads, laptops, smart phones, bigger televisions than ever before, and more hours in front of screens than any time in history.
In the 1950's, Fisher Price introduced Little People. They were very simple pegs with heads, hats, or hair. They had very simple facial expressions, and they lead very simple lives. Over the years they have become more and more detailed, leaving out a big chunk of the imaginative play they used to inspire. The Little People Timeline shows the progression of detail over the last 60 years. Dolls of all types have not only become more detailed, but some are walking, talking, dancing, skating, and doing gymnastics. They have all become very specific in their skill set, making it harder and harder for them to take on different roles.
Many preschool classrooms are dumping the massive bins of random plastic dolls and replacing them with peg people. Not only do they promote free thinking imaginative play, they enhance fine motor skills, teach acceptance of the way everyone looks, and they're just fun. I have seen them painted different colors, stained lighter and darker for skin tones, and felt gnome hats glued to their heads.
You can order a bunch of different kinds of peg people at Casey's Wood Products. They are very inexpensive, fun, and you can let the children decorate some of them so they have an investment in playing with them. When you see the imaginations in your classroom soar, you'll be glad you did.