parts that bend

 

Left: This child makes spider monsters and then lifts them quickly. The long noodles bend, making the pretend spiders appear more animated and menacing, as if alive.

Right: This child makes a noodle bend into a “U” to serve as a huge handle for the Little Cheese. This way the Little Cheese becomes a sort of bumper in front of the boy who has stepped inside of the huge handle he made.

what it means

Think of the bendable noodles as an important contrast to the rigid blocks and found pipes. How perfect to have this opportunity to create curves that loop to their beginning point or willowy parts that flex as they move. In general the noodles add value by creating whimsical accents to a large structure or visual continuity across two otherwise separate structures. And the animated flexing of the noodles will arouse many creative ideas about movements that are not possible with rigid limbs, such as the bending of tree branches in the wind or the strain of weights on the ends of a barbell.

2-4 year olds

The noodles augment the height and reach of young children. They will love the extension that the noodles provide and will cherish having one or two. The fact that the noodles can bend will probably not be as important to the twos and threes as will be the long length and ease of carrying.

4-7 year olds

For older children, bending takes on its own value. They will look for reasons to make loops, usually with both ends connected to the same base block, occasionally between two different blocks.

7-10 year olds

The older children will take advantage of the length of the noodle to thread several blocks, but may be disappointed in how the blocks sag. Indeed the very “failure” of the noodle could give them the idea to use something else. Both the length and the flexibility of the noodles will give the older children ideas for play.

This material is adapted from the publication "Imagination Playground's Guidance to Play" by George E. Forman, PhD, Emeritus Professor, University of Massachusetts (Amherst) and President of Videatives, Inc.

Dr. Forman has over 33 years of experience in university teaching, cognitive research, multimedia design and educational consulting in the area of early childhood learning and development.

"Guidance to Play" covers 20 topics that help illustrate the significance in what children are doing as they play as well as concrete actions Play Associates can take to facilitate positive behaviors.