Spring Festival had a Caribbean theme this year. While the music teacher taught the little kids to sing "Day-oh" and to act out a story about a cat and a copycat rat, I helped them make little island dioramas and read one of my favorite books, Rata-Pata-Scata-Fata. The elementary teacher made a beach backdrop.
The little island dioramas needed some people or other characters to complete the scene. The preschoolers loved drawing the rat and cat from the festival story. They got excited drawing the boy and his goat from Rata-Pata-Scata-Fata. Best of all, they loved drawing themselves, their classmates, and the music teacher performing on stage. They dictated descriptions for each character they drew.
We scanned the drawings so the pictures can be made into a book. We cut apart their drawings, and laminated them, then glued each figure to a cork so it stands up. We get the corks from a helpful restaurant. Now each child will have a little set of their own characters to play with on the diorama stage. They can sing their festival songs until next year's Spring Festival, and be the narrator for their stories.
This kind of play is so important for developing imagination and vocabulary, and for understanding story structure. I feel sad when the little kids talk about getting to "lebel eleben" on their bideo games as they go shooting around the playground. Please let your kids and grandkids have lots of time for imaginative, dramatic play and creating their own stories, songs, and toys.
© 2007 Nancy L. Ruder