It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Learning’s a Game

George has brought a fire safety book from home. He and Arthur sit side by side on the couch and “read” it.

“When you notice the fire, you have to yell out loud and wake up the rest of your family.” George declares, pointing to the picture before turning the page. “Then you gots to get out. You don’t worry about grabbing stuff, you just gets all the people out. You touch the door with the back of your hand before you open it, because if it’s hot, you gots to find a different way to go because there’s a fire on the other side.”

(Not bad for four!)

“Let’s play that game today!” Arthur bounces in the seat beside George.


The boys grab the fire hats and leap into their fire trucks, aka shopping bins, and the game begins.

That’s real learning, you know. It’s never “just” play with small children. They may get the facts from an abstract source, but they are not learned, they do not become real, until they are played with. And how different is that from the way adults learn, anyway?

June 6, 2006 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I love that picture. And George is pretty impressive!! Bryce wouldn’t know any of those facts. This is a reminder that I obviously need to bring this up with him!

    Comment by Kristen | June 6, 2006 | Reply

  2. Hear, hear! Now can you please talk with my company’s executives about that adult learning thing?

    I work in instructional design, and it seems no one cares if people actually learn from our training. Managers just want them to hurry up and get THROUGH it so they can check it off the to-do list.

    Sweet pic of the boys!

    Comment by Sharkey | June 6, 2006 | Reply

  3. Nice trucks! In our house, those are called “swimming pools” or “baby beds”. They never ever make it to the store with me.

    Comment by AverageMom | June 6, 2006 | Reply

  4. How cool! And they have red shirts and everything.

    Comment by Cheryl | June 6, 2006 | Reply

  5. Aww…that’s a cute a picture!

    Comment by Jamie | June 6, 2006 | Reply

  6. Love the hats and fire trucks!

    Comment by moe | June 6, 2006 | Reply

  7. wow, I’m impressed with the boys grasp of fire safety! And I love the “trucks.” We can’t wear a fire hat, go by a station, or mention firetrucks without sining the “hurry hurry” song around here.

    Comment by kittenpie | June 6, 2006 | Reply

  8. I think it was a show called The Baby Human, where they talked about how kids play is really getting them ready for real life. Makes sense.

    Comment by Mamacita Tina | June 7, 2006 | Reply

  9. Does it seem like kids these days have less time to just play?

    Or is it just me.

    Comment by Granny | June 7, 2006 | Reply

  10. Kristen: Thanks. It’s challenging sometimes to find pictures that are entertaining without showing faces (with very limited camera skills and no photoshop!). Hats make it easy.

    Bryce is such a smartie: he’ll pick up that information in no time!

    Sharkey: So many people approach education that way – something to be ticked off a list, not something that doesn’t really count until it’s absorbed and applied. Sigh.

    AverageMom: We have a bunch of these. Two live in the hatch of the car for groceries, one is generally filled with blocks, and one, for reasons I don’t fully understand, just seems to float around the kitchen, homeless and purposeless. Except when it’s a fire truck or a race car! (As you can see by the blocks to one corner, ONE of these bins was formerly the block bin before its more stylish reincarnation.)

    Cheryl: Quelle coincidence, huh??

    Jamie, Moe: They’re cuties, no doubt. I just love their round little bodies packed into those bins. Makes me grin every time.

    Kittenpie: Yup, George is a smart little dude, with a tendency to earnestness. This is the kind of thing he retains. He’ll be the delight of his teachers, I’m quite sure.

    “Hurry, hurry” song? I don’t think I know that one!

    MamacitaTina: It’s what we were taught in teacher’s college, too. And it does make sense. Every mammal plays at the skills that they need for life. With humans, that’s a lot of play required!

    Granny: I think they do, and it’s a shame. Play is fundamental to learning, but so often it’s viewed as a perk. They’re “just” playing.

    So we fill their lives with “enriching” activities, give them no time to hang out and soak up some of these ideas, and wonder why they’re constantly bored and don’t enjoy learning. Boredom is responded to by putting them in still MORE activities! It’s a vicious circle, resulting in kids who have no idea what to do with down time, no idea how to ruminate, no idea how to think, only how to go-go-go!!!

    Comment by Mary P. | June 7, 2006 | Reply

  11. Here, Mary, is the “hurry hurry” song.
    Sung to pretty much the tune of Ten Little Indians, though the line length is a just very slightly off – I’m sure you’ll get it, being a kids’ person.

    Hurry Hurry, call the fire truck
    Hurry Hurry, call the fire truck
    Hurry Hurry, call the fire truck
    Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

    Repeat with:
    drive the fire truck
    climb the ladder
    spray the water

    Add actions, including ringing bell for last line. They LOVE this one!

    Comment by kittenpie | June 7, 2006 | Reply

  12. Granny’s right it does seem like play is a lost art. I did just pick up Silken Laumann’s new book Child’s Play. Look for a review on my blog soon.

    I heard her interviewed yesterday and it was really wonderful to hear about a successful new book on the subject of play as something natural, unstructured and important. I especially appreciated her emphasis on the role of activity for kids; it would have been pretty easy for a major athlete like SL get on a soap box about SPORT but instead this is about the basic capacity for play which she considers to be synonymous with joy.

    Comment by mo-wo | June 7, 2006 | Reply

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