I’m giving a talk on mature extended dramatic play for the Northern Virginia Parents of Multiples club on Thursday, and I wanted to share just two of the fun experiments that have been on my mind lately.
1. Guard Game
The experiment measured how long 4-year-old children can stand still in one place. I would expect anywhere from 5 seconds to -2 seconds since children defy the laws of time. Anyway, in the first instance, they were simply told to hold still as long as they could, and most of them couldn’t make it even one minute. However, when the experimenters turned it into a game, “Pretend you’re a guard standing watch at a factory,” the kids suddenly were able to pretend to stand still for more than 4 minutes.
Is this the same principle the dental assistant employs when she tells Fluffy not “hold still for the X-ray” but “pretend you are one of Woody’s toys and you have to hold perfectly still like a lifeless toy while his mom is in the room”?
On a non-pretend game-ification note, I remember falling for that old classic my old mother used, “Let’s all see who can be quiet the longest.” I even participated with gusto in the ever popular, “Let’s play a game. Whoever falls asleep the first wins. Go!”
2. Grocery Memory
The experiment measured how many words pre-K kids could memorize. In the first instance, they were asked to memorize a list of unrelated words and their performance was recorded. Later they were asked to “play grocery store” in which a similar list of unrelated words was used as a grocery list that they needed to remember for their trip to the store. The number of words they could remember in the play scenario doubled.
So how do I incorporate these into our lives. The boys aren’t quite ready for the kind of mature extended dramatic play that Tools of the Mind supports, but maybe I could get Fluffy to “Pretend you’re a caveman frozen in ice” all through church. Or how about “Pretend you’re dead and this whole thing is your funeral.” Too morbid? How about “Pretend you’re Steven Hawking with a broken computer so that you can neither move nor talk.” Perfect. I’ll let you know how this goes Sunday.