If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll have noticed by now that my kids and I get a real kick out of acting out stories – whether from a book we’ve read or from our own wild imaginations. (For a popular post on this, see Kids Who Play with Books Love Reading Books) I’m certain that we are not alone.
In fact, studies show that both pre-school to kindergarten students AND kids ages 7-10 spend a lot of time and energy on imaginative play. They practice important social and group dynamic skills, work on expressing their emotions, and stretch the bounds of their imaginations.
Kids (and their grown-ups) can participate in this type of play with dolls, puppets, and a wide variety of make-believe props. At my house, cardboard boxes stand in for everything from race cars to horse stalls. A towel can be a magic carpet, a super hero’s cloak, or picnic blanket. But no matter how fancy or basic your acting supplies, I’ve come to discover that nothing elevates playtime to Putting on a Play Time like a curtain.
There’s a certain obsession with curtains we all have as kids. From the moment we get mobile (and start to understand object permanence) we want to hide behind them, play peek-a-boo with them, and of course, pull their cords. At night we worry what might be lurking behind them or – if you’re anything like me – we duck past them to gaze up at the moon in a cocoon of privacy.
I’ve draped many a cloth across a doorway, hung many a blanket from a clothesline, even shrouded a good portion of my swing set in sheets to set up a curtained stage for my children. We also like to put up a small “curtain” with a dishtowel or scarf when putting on a puppet show. My kids wrap the living room curtains around the bench in our bay window to make a solitary spot for reading (or spying on neighbors).
When our family decided to get bunk beds for our 2 oldest daughters, we walked into a furniture store. The action went a little like this: I like this one!…No, I like this one!…Wait…What’s that? WE WANT THIS ONE!
We DID not give in on the slide or the tower…but who could resist the privacy – and play possibilities -of that curtained upper bunk?
The top bunk is now the realm of our middle daughter. Her 4 year-old sister sleeps in a double bed below. Not one to be left out of the fun, she recently “installed” her own curtain by tucking a pink sheet under her sister’s mattress. Her bed can now be a fort, a tent, a tiger’s lair, a dungeon, a circus animal cage, and a hotel room.
Curtains are also marvelous for adding boundaries to any shared space, bringing mystery to a plain space, or a giving sense of purpose to a small space. I hung an inexpensive, glittery curtain in this tiny space between dresser and bunk bed with a length of yarn.
It instantly turned the 3 x 4 foot corner from space the girls hardly ever used into a favorite reading nook. (It also gets called “the dressing room” and “backstage” pretty regularly.
Have you found fun uses for curtains with your kids? Have a good hiding in the curtains story? A favorite story you and the kids act out? Feel free to share below!