Playing is the basic need of children, there is a lot of meaningful play material, electronic media, which, however, complicate and hinder healthy early childhood development. Children are exposed to industrially manufactured toys of all kinds every day, giving children too little room for their own ideas. Children's play is shaped by ready-made products and childlike creativity should come to the fore again with toy-free time.
What do our children really need so that they can make independent decisions, solve problems, think creatively, live out their imagination, communicate with others, get to know each other, empathise with others and master life?
We want to counteract this for 2-3 weeks and give the children the opportunity to use their own creativity, their imagination, with themselves or with others and with all their senses to indulge in everyday objects, natural materials and give them the necessary time to do so. Dialogue among the children is encouraged, ideas formulated, rules agreed upon, relationships built, help sought from others.
The role of the educator also changes, the ideas come from the children, the educator provides the impetus, is there to help, observes, documents and plays along.
At the beginning of the toy-free time, it is explained to the children that all toys are now going on holiday.
Together, the things are packed away, stowed away or the shelves are hung up. What remains are everyday materials such as pens, books, glue, craft materials, Muggle stones, etc.
The parents were informed about the project in advance and diligently collected materials for the children:
Cartons, boxes, fabrics, cardboard rolls, packaging, yoghurt pots, wool, packing tape, paper plates, old CD .........
Then we can get started:
The forest children play Mother, Father, Baby. The father pulls the babies around the room in the pram, the mother decorates the flat with paper plates and string. They have talked on the phone and discussed when mummy has to come back and the babies have to go to sleep. The dad reads a story to the children.
A band with big cardboard rolls has been formed. The children hold their big rolls like musical instruments and sing loudly.
One child speaks: "I lie down with my belly on the roll and roll back and forth on it "a sport roll I have". Or dance around the fire with my role like Rumpelstiltskin.
The pizza maker, the construction worker, from superman to ghost hunter, everything was there, everyone individually according to his idea and imagination.
The room of the sea children was measured with conventional masking tape, chairs were wrapped, newspapers were formed into balls and target throwing was played.
With large rolls of cardboard and masking tape, a motorway tunnel was created, after which the cars fell noisily into a very large metal can. The tunnel had to be shaken sometimes because a traffic jam was created in it.
The big girls made horse stables with boxes.
A city was to be created with streets, houses, zebra crossings and a fire brigade, which every city should have.
The younger children had a lot of fun stacking the boxes. They examined the material, the foil, the boxes and cardboard rolls, the texture, the sound. With a helping hand, they quickly found their way into the creative phase and found themselves role-playing together. This is how 3 children had come together to form a travelling band. With guitar, drums and 3 flutes they moved musically through the room.
In the course of time, many cars were created, one that flies the children home as well as a huge safari car, with all kinds of little things. A lot of houses were also planned and realised by our professional architects. Already at lunchtime, the children were busy with their constructions and exchanged ideas that they wanted to realise. Small teams were formed among the children who wanted to realise ideas together, as well as basic ideas that were to be implemented.
Toy-free is a special experience for children, educators and parents. The focus is on the child and his or her wealth of ideas. The children have communicated more, found constructive solutions, strengthened their independence. The children have the opportunity to work with large and unusual materials. The time thus offers an important change to the day-to-day life in the kindergarten. There were hardly any conflict situations among the children during this time.
The toy-free time should remain just that, something SPECIAL.