A Playground for Marbles



Two children created a wooden playground with blocks. The playground was created for marbles and little toys called Shopkins that are small plastic characters resembling items from the supermarket. 

Often, the school age children bring toys from home to play with as a supplement to the materials in the program. Having a few personal items creates an important connection between home and school and makes the children feel more comfortable in the program. 

The younger child and an older child continued working together to create an elaborate playground out of blocks. On top of the wooden blocks the children placed colorful pencil topper erasers to create a game. To play the game, children used marbles to try and knock off the erasers that were protecting the Shopkins. 

With all of the different manipulative materials available today, blocks remain one of the most utilized materials in the program. Daily, the children employ all types of blocks in their play and have done so throughout my career working in afterschool. The versatility and durability of blocks is amazing. 

Other children came to investigate the wooden playground and joined in the building process, modifying and then knocking down the original structures so the group could start building a new and different playground. 

A wonderful part of the learning community blossoms when a few children create something that captures the imagination of other children, who join in and collaborate on adapting and creating a new version of the original creation. 

The game continued in various forms as new children arrived and departed after investigating and assisting with the work. The original children that started the wooden playground kept playing and invented new rules as their game continued. 

Since the children made the choice to play this game, play continued for a long time with no ending point in sight. Only the interruption of the clock was going to stop play for the day. The time to depart for the evening was quickly approaching.

As the play session ended the older child invited the younger child to play again tomorrow, saying, “ We should play this again tomorrow, I am here everyday.” A few minutes later the older child's parents arrived, and the child exclaimed, “I was having so much fun, I want to stay and have more.”

What a joy to observe the children create new games, make social connections, play, and explore the possibilities of blocks in the learning community.