Activity time: 15 minutes
Materials for Activity
- Name tags
- Variety of free play options, such as toys, a puzzle, a story book, manipulatives, dramatic play props, and markers and paper
- Additional items to engage children's imaginations
Preparation for Activity
- Make name tags for the children you are expecting and set these out with a few extra blank name tags and a marker.
- Display the free play options attractively, ready for the children to use, such as a puzzle with a piece already put in place, a family of ethnically and gender-diverse dolls sitting together in the dramatic play area, a group of trucks near a block garage, or an open picture book. Include the Memory Match Game (Session 5), Chalice Flannel Board (Session 9), and Family Jigsaw Puzzle (Session 11).
- Gather items to stimulate children's imaginations, such as sarongs and scarves to use for dress-up play, modeling clay, a tray modeling clay, a bucket of things that don't seem to go together (such as wooden blocks, plastic dinosaurs, and a sheath of pipe cleaners), or a stack of empty boxes.
Description of Activity
Free play time allows children to make individual choices, explore the environment, share time together, and build a sense of belonging and comfort with the group and the meeting room space.
As the children arrive, invite them into the Chalice Children meeting room. Help them get comfortable by pointing out the free play area and noting the options for play that are displayed. Help them say goodbye to their parent(s) or caregiver(s).
Invite and guide the children to play, helping them feel safe and welcomed.
Give a five-minute warning to the children that free play will end and clean-up will begin; follow with a one-minute warning.
Including All Participants
Free play needs to include options for all the children. For example, you might set up a craft project at a table that is tall enough to accommodate a child's wheelchair, with chairs or standing room for other children.