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December 10, 2008

New Found Friends

We are talking about families and family traditions in my class throughout the month of December. This week, I added a dollhouse, furniture and many different kinds of dolls. Thankfully our school has a diverse assortment of dolls. I was able to find grandparents, parents, and children (including babies!) of many different nationalities. Before our free choice time, I explained how we use the dollhouse. Most importantly, we decided that there should be two people playing in this area at one time. We have been working on playing with friends that we might not know as well and I thought this would be a good venue. 

As a class we talked about why it is important to interact with each other while playing with the dollhouse. It is much more fun for your dolls to talk and play with each other! As students were called to pick work areas, I strategically invited two students to play with each other at the dollhouse. Let me paint the picture: Yangchen is a Tibetan girl with limited English skills and Aaron love cars, Spiderman and cartoons and does not like to sit still. To my amazement, they worked so well together! Not only were they playing with each other but they were also using verbal and nonverbal cues to communicate. Aaron would show Yangchen a piece of furniture and ask where they should put it. When their house was ready, they each chose dolls and started to role play. Pretty soon they were laughing and enjoying each other as their dolls cooked dinner, went to bed, took a bath and walked the dog. 

My favorite part of this experience actually came after we cleaned up. After snack we gather to read a story and do calendar work. I observed as Aaron called to Yangchen, “Hey! Come sit here!” I could not have been more excited! What a great way to practice our social skills! I am hoping the addition of the dollhouse and my strategic maneuvers will encourage even more stories throughout the rest of the month.

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