Posted: Wednesday, April 17th, 2013
I recently went to dinner with a large group of friends, one of whom brought her five-year-old daughter. We had pizza; something I would have fallen all over at 5 years old. But she didn’t want pizza. She didn’t want to talk about her toys, or interrupt our adult conversation to ask a million questions, or climb all over the chairs, or ask for a sugary drink she’s not supposed to have, or do any number of annoying things that five-year-olds do at the dinner table.
All she wanted to do was play on her mom’s iPad. By the end of dinner I still had not heard her speak or seen her make eye contact with a single person at the table, including her mother. “What a good kid she is.” one of my friends said. And I thought to myself, “If this social detachment is our metric for good behavior, we’re all in BIG trouble!”
This overwhelmingly quiet dinner left me with all kinds of questions: Is the technology that kindergarteners are cutting their teeth on curbing their development? Does it prevent them from learning from each other? Is it suppressing their imagination? Is it altering their ability to find creative solutions? Can they even make eye contact anymore?!
Enter Art Avina’s class of kindergarteners from LAUSD’s Olympic Primary Center, with their cinematic retelling of the classic Miss Nelson Is Missing, by Harry Allard and James Marshall. Check it out.
It relieves me to see children acting out a great story, collaborating with their classmates on a creative project, and (hello!) covering Madonna, but the best part is that they’re doing it with the storytelling tools of their generation. It just goes to show that if you focus on using technology to keep kids engaged, instead of using it to keep them quiet, then they will never be bystanders to their own education.
So, in the spirit of creative commotion, here are some of my favorite pretend play ideas, all of which should be played with the nearest available child…over a slice of pizza: