"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Saturday, November 19, 2011

With a fertile imagination...and some unstructured and unsupervised play

Picture Book Month continues!  Today's theme is farm books.  There are many wonderful books to choose from, but when Dianne de Las Casas, the founder of Picture Book Month, asked people to name their favorite I had to choose the book below.  Hands down, it is my all time favorite.

"Casey's farm isn't big by most standards.  The barn is an old wooden drawer in his backyard.  But it's just the right size for a small child with a fertile imagination and an attentive ear...." So describes Down on Casey's Farm by Sandra Jordan.  It was one of those books that I borrowed from the library frequently and often returned late.  A few years ago I bought my own copy. 

Down on Casey's Farm by Sandra Jordan
Here is a young child with a bureau drawer, some plastic farm animals and time and space to let his imagination soar.  I have such a vivid memory of my children lugging paper grocery bags around my house full of "treasures," which they would set up in some new stop along the adventure.  The same thing happened outside with the wagon and a variety of cars, trucks and animals.   

I showed the blog post The Joy of Unstructured and Unsupervised Play to my fifth graders yesterday.  They were eager to try out the magic "screen on paper trick."  I demonstrated it and tried things they suggested, but was stymied as to how to manage 27 students engaging in this activity at once and so did not have them do it.

Can I recreate these experiences by creating a student-centered library? A library where students can Imagine, Investigate and Innovate.  Is one of the centers having the screen down and the projector on and seeing what they discover?  Maybe with some digital cameras there for them to record the action? 

I have a wonderful memory of my daughter playing with a cardboard box and an eclectic assortment of objects.  I was watching her put them in the box, drag it to a specific spot and get in herself only to then evacuate the premises and move the box to some new location and hop back in, where she would then engage in some earnest conversation with her box mates.  I didn't want to interrupt her imaginative play and this very active adventure so happily took the role of observer. 

Maybe this is what the student-centered library should look like...me creating an environment where the students are free to Imagine, Investigate and Innovate. Food for thought.

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