Thursday, February 20, 2014

"Just Playing?" Blog Hop: Cooking With Meatballs

Welcome to our first "Just Playing?" weekly blog hop!

These children are "cooking" on our playground with gumballs from our Sweet Gum tree. The children call them "meatballs". Our playground is constantly filled with the sights and sounds of children cooking (too bad we can't smell it, too)! What do you think they are making here?

We may be "just playing", but....
What are the children doing here?
What do you see?
What learning is taking place?
What skills are being practiced/developed?

  just playing  
This post is part of the "Just Playing?" Blog Hop!
Thank you for remembering that young children do not "just play." Young children play. They develop through play. They learn through play. They experiment through play. They grow through play. A child's work is play. Play is important!
Please take a moment to reflect upon the photos and questions above. I would love for you to share your observations in a comment. I'd also like to invite you to "hop" on over to all of the other bloggers who are sharing photos of children learning through play this week:

If you are looking for more of our “Just Playing?” posts and resources from around the globe, please visit our Pinterest Board.
Are you a blogger? Would you like to join the JUST PLAYING? blog hop community?
You can join the hop via our Facebook Group: Just Playing?

I'd love for you to share your thoughts in the comments and please visit the other blogs in the "Just Playing" Blog Hop!


  1. Look at how much fun they are having! I see kids engaged in cooperative playing, using their imagination, practicing fine motor skills, exploring nature and perhaps they are counting how many meatballs they have! ~Samantha @ Stir the Wonder

    1. Samantha, you are right--they are doing all those things! Thanks for your comments and observations! :)

  2. I love that the children call these meatballs! What a hoot!! I see smiling faces enjoying the great outdoors integrating nature into their natural play. The children are developing the important skills of managing and exploring things with texture which often kids get a little freaked if something feels different to them and they are getting in the sand which is awesome for building competence and overcoming anxieties about outdoor play and getting a little gritty along the way. They are also developing their imaginations as they cook up their meatballs as well as communication skills and developing their own rules for play.

    1. Deborah, I plan to post a video that accompanies this later---those communication skills are at work! The gumballs are such a common natural item in our area that they never seem to notice that they are "spiky"!

  3. Ayn
    We have the same "meatballs!" Children love them, for sure, as the texture and size promote diverse play. Collections are inevitably what occurs.
    One of the things I notice in the photos is that the tray atop the swing (is it a swing?) seems full of sand. The children seemed to have been working on using buckets of 'meatball' collections to generously heap onto the sand tray.
    I also love the idea that the cooking is happening on a swing. Different locations for dramatic play can be such a plus.
    My guess as to what they are cooking? Children absolutely have their own agenda and motivation as to what and why they create anything. I would only offer guesses based on popular possibilities: party related desserts or something that keeps 'bad guys' away :)
    I see math based concepts in use of the flat container for sand, the balancing on the swing, the collection of meatballs and the careful application of how many meatballs can remain on the tray of sand. Collaboration is evident between the two or three children, as well.

    1. Jeanne, I won't spoil the surprise yet about what they are cooking. And YES! They are cooking on a swing!!! I found that so interesting, too! We have 2 large picnic tables that the children often use for cooking, but on this day the swing was their cooktop. Anything goes in imaginary play! Thanks for your comments and observations! :)

  4. I love this. Although we have a wild outdoor space, I always wish we had more naturally occurring loose parts that came in an abundance. Sensory play and awareness of natural materials. Of course they are also learning about science skills. How full can they get the container? What happens when the add too many? Sharing materials with others. Working with others in the same space. Beautiful photos.

    1. Thank you for commenting Jessica! It's funny that we always want what we don't have----I wish we had a much more natural setting. We have a few old trees, but our play space is pretty bare of natural flora. We have a large grassy area and a sandy area for our play equipment. The children don't seem to mind either way----they use what is available and let their imaginations make the rest! :)

  5. Isn't it great that they are taking an item and making it something else? Proof that you don't necessarily need fancy things for children to play! Loose parts like gumballs are great for the children to extend their imaginations and play. I see children working together- requiring social skills and potentially problem solving. It looks like the blonde child may be counting the meatballs- working on the one to one correspondence as she is pointing to individual items. Another child off to the side looks like they maybe recreating or imitating adding "spices" or another ingredient the way that they are letting the sand run through their fingers. Thanks for joining in and linking up this week!

    1. Amy, you are so right! We don't have a lot of fancy equipment outside, but the children have elaborate play scenarios and make a whole lot out of virtually nothing! These gumballs are used everyday in SO many ways and represent whatever is needed for their play. And you are right---the sand she is adding is the "spices" for her special dish! Thanks for commenting, and especially for inspiring and starting this new "Just Playing?" adventure!!! :)


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