Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Ducks Go Marching Two by Two

If you play with toys that come in matching pairs, you will multiply the game possibilities by more than two. I recently bought two large sets of rubber ducks, so, now I am busy thinking of games to play with the duck pairs. These ideas would work with lots of toy pairs. The previous two posts are related to my recent massive duck purchase and you might like to follow-up by reading these previous posts if you have a collection of ducks or any other large critter collection.

I set out my duck sets today determined to discover new ways of playing with them. In my play room, I split a low table in half with masking tape. In my mind the tape was meant to serve as a kind of fence. My plan was that whoever I played with would get one side for his or her ducks and I would get the other for my ducks. I have so many ducks in this collection that I felt we could split them up and still each have plenty. When the first child of the day, Carter, came to play, I put a Popsicle People Doll of me on my side and a Popsicle People Doll of Carter on the other side. He had never seen the table set up like this so I had to explain it. This is Carter's side, I announced and this is Tahirih's side. (See note below for explanation of Popsicle People Dolls)

Hmmm I pondered aloud, right after Carter sat down, I want Car Duck. I put the duck that I have named Car Duck on my side. Here Carter, this is Carter's Car Duck. With two identical ducks of many kinds, the game became about each of us getting one each of every kind of duck. I showed Carter how to request ducks by doing it first. I want Guitar Duck! I said next--and after three or four ducks were handed out, I waited for Carter to request a duck.

No matter what level of skill a child has, I can show him or her a way to request. With a non-verbal child, I might teach the child to push a talking button that says Duck Please. For a child like Carter, I gave each duck pair a name like Car Ducks, Golf Ducks, Fireman Ducks showing him words to describe/label ducks and showing him how to combine words. For a child who is able to engage in pretend play, I might sell ducks from the box of ducks making the box into a duck store.

Carter is not quite ready to play like this but if he was ready, I would have handed Carter's dad the box and suggested he become the Duck Salesman. I would have taught Carter how to request a duck at a Duck Store by saying How much is your Fireman Duck, Sir? Carter's dad might reply saying Fireman Duck costs five cents! Setting up a Duck Store would be as easy as placing a sign on the box that says Ducks for Sale! With a Duck Store, we could play any number of buying and selling ideas. Today, Carter was introduced to the idea of collecting ducks on his side of the masking tape fence but in a year, he may become a duck entrepreneur. Toys don't really have to get old if you use them in new ways.

Now it turned out that Carter had his own idea about how to play with ducks. He wanted both of the Car Ducks, and both of the Golf Ducks, and both of the Pit Crew Ducks, so I quickly made a change in my plan to accomodate his interest in pairs. We both began to collect duck pairs. I mention this because it is easy to get caught up in your own plans for a game and miss using a child's much more motivating ideas. With Carter, I began to offer him pairs rather than single ducks. Carter likes letters too, so we put pairs of ducks on letters.

Depending on the child, this pair duck game might have become all about negotiating for favorite duck pairs, trading duck pairs, complaining when a duck does not have an identical matching duck pair, choosing girl ducks versus boy ducks, or as mentioned above, selling and buying duck pairs. I might have quickly put up a sign on the Duck Store that read Ten Ducks for a Quarter! and pretended the idea of buying in bulk. I hope that Carter starts to understand pretend play like this soon. I have lots of ideas for when he does.

Note: Popsicle Dolls are paper dolls with a real person's face on the doll, and the whole doll is stuck on a tongue depressor stick. I don't think that Tongue Depressor Dolls sounds as good a Popsicle People. More about using this strategy on Autism Games under Family Dolls

No comments: