I ventured into Ed's room the other night to do a bit of a tidy up and found the usual suspects - random train tracks, cars and trains strewn all over the floor. As I looked more closely, however, I found a little haven of calm, organisation and in the end intrigue as I stumbled across a game he had set up with his Thomas trains.
In the middle of Ed's room I have a large white, wooden toy box, that his garage and train sheds are kept on. I set up this space as a place for him to organise his own play and carry out his games without them being a great big mess all over the floor. He has access to it all the time and his trains and cars are kept in small suitcases at the bottom of the toy box. He can take himself there and start playing with out any intervention from me. Stumbling upon his Thomas game the other night made me remember why I had provided this space in the first place and just why these areas are so important to children.
Looking closely, you could see how intricate and involved his play had been. Each train had specific, matching carriages. Some trains were in sheds, others were lined up, some were facing each other, clearly involved in conversation. You could almost hear the busy station at work, things looked so animated.
I decided not to pack this scene away for the time being. There is nothing worse than having your creativity and momentum stifled by packing away something you're in the middle of and there is so much learning and development going on in this sort of involved play - memory and recall, language, fine motor, problem solving, organisation, empathy, social interactions, just to name a few.
I'll keep my eye on the play and when it gets messy and seemingly disorganised, I know he will be done with it and it will be time to pack it away, but for the time being, the Island of Sodor is alive and breathing in Ed's bedroom!