Hiding WORK in PLAY!

How do we make WORK feel more like PLAY?  

How do we get our kids off their devices, so they can 


Fred Rogers says this: "Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning.  But for children, play is serious learning.  Play is really the 'work' of childhood."  So, what? Am I supposed to give my kids free reign of the house, while I slave away, cleaning up their messes?  Fat chance!  Yes, I've occasionally been "that mom" who let my kids watch too much Netflix after school, just so I can get some work done faster and more efficiently, but more often I have told (well...maybe more yelled at) them that they can't leave their bedrooms until those rooms are clean - and they better be PERFECT!  Not my best moments, to be sure.

There's gotta be a happy medium somewhere.  

Surely, Mr. Rogers didn't mean never to get any work done.  Life can't always be a trolley ride or a puppet show, although both are great sometimes. But, maybe he meant the work should become the play.  I don't claim to have all the answers, but these are some Belliston family inventions that have popped up in the past few months that have changed our home for the better.

Movie making nights - Our kids BEG to use our phones.  One night, when my husband was working late, I let them make a movie (on his phone that he accidentally left at home).  With a bribe that Mason get his Sound Beginnings puppets cut out for class the next morning, I said that not only could they use Dad's phone, but that I'd synch it to our Apple TV and all watch their "masterpiece" together when it was complete. (Truth be told, I was looking for 15 minutes to finish a book I'd been reading...) We all love this now!  This is what my kids came up with that week:

Now, the part the kids won't tell you about (but I sure will!) is that we hide some learning and work into the play.  In an attempt to teach my kids some tech-savviness (is that a word?), I made them figure out the movie thing all on their own.  There were many pictures of their knees before they got to this proficiency of video recording.  I also made them figure out how to synch the iPhone with the Apple TV - they were so quick to figure it out!  I also said that the living room needed to be clean before we watched their movie on the Apple TV. Work and play combined so well! (And it's amazing how fast they clean up when they want to play their movie!)

Card Making Parties - I don't think I'm the only one who likes a little peace and quiet in the car sometimes.  Great for me, but not so great for getting in that super-important CD listening for the Let's Play Music music.  I put it on in the living room, and needed to find a way to get the kids to LISTEN to it!  So, since great-grandma Hrabar's birthday was that weekend, I sat the kids down to make her some cards.  Maggie got some relatively focused CD-listening in, while both kids got their creative juices flowing.  

"Let's Go Fly A Kite" - One cold night in February, we watched Mary Poppins.  Since then, the kids have been begging to make kites.  So, since piano practicing was becoming a little more of a fight, I started letting Maggie have 5 minutes of kite construction for every day that she practiced her piano.  After about a month, it was done (I really milked that as long as I could...they were great looking kites!)  Finally, a great, windy day came, and we got to try them out!

The best part?  We ran outside, and were singing "Let's Go Fly a Kite" during the first flight!  The kids learned fast that cool looking kites don't always make for the best fliers.  We googled how to improve their lift and made them more efficient (which bought me another no-fight piano practice session).  We also had some hedges that needed some serious trimming, so we had the kids help haul the clippings out of the way with the disguise that they should find the perfect sticks for the kites.  They stuck with moving sticks for almost an hour!  What a perfect way to hide work in PLAY!  This was a few weeks ago, and they STILL talk about how cool that day was.  I don't feel bad at all putting so much work into that event.  Totally worth it for all of us!
Want to know what really hit me?

All of the MUSIC in these types of PLAY!  

Whether it be rocking out to the Yellow Arrows CD while we make cards, or singing Mary Poppins songs while flying kites, my kids - as well as many other children - are drawn to music.  The last picture is Mason watching a musical at Maggie's elementary school.  I brought snacks, coloring books, and little toy cars to keep him entertained so I could watch Maggie's performance.  What I didn't anticipate was that he'd be totally glued to the music.  Be still, my heart!

How does this non-musical stuff (movies, cards, kites)
relate with Let's Play Music?  

Let's Play Music has established a series of patterns in my home.  For example, we started cutting out blackbird puppets for Mason's Silver Buttons (Sound Beginnings) homework, which just naturally turned into movie-making.  

Maggie has always been very advanced at school.  Reading, math, science - she's lightyears ahead.  In music, she's WAY ahead of most kids, but in her individual Yellow Arrows class she's *gasp* average.  At first it got her down, but then her brilliant teacher, Karri Mickelson, suggested that she put on a concert for her stuffed animals while she practiced.  What started as work became PLAY, and now that PLAY has moved to the non-music parts of our life.  She now brings those stuffed animals along to watch her clean the bathroom, do her laundry, and wash the dishes.  (Animals are sitting on the counter...sorry they didn't make it into the shot.  But, happy kid making dinner twice a week - WIN!)

What about YOU?

Has your family invented a new pattern because of Let's Play Music?  Parents of my students have shared some stories with me about how some new patterns in their lives have emerged, which have made their homes a little more playful, a little more productive, or a little more joyful.  To my past and current parents, or to other parents and teachers of Let's Play Music students - comment below if your family has developed a new pattern at home because of Let's Play Music. For future students, or those looking for more information, click here for a link to sign up for a FREE Sample Class!

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