Fifth Graders’ Joyous Play

Children’s capacity and desire to play – it blew me away this week.

We redesigned our room on Monday, and I put a new centerpiece on the table. Immediately children began to stack, rearrange, sort, play.

Then children wanted to use these materials to build the Torah text. Such joy! It was like the Torah was stuck on the page and then the children made it all come to life!

The children became the characters in the text: they made up dialogue, they tried out different voices, they arranged and rearranged their scene. Their first version of the city of S’dom was discarded because it didn’t show the evilness clearly enough.

When they finished a second version of the city of S’dom, the children said, “The color of the guy shows how righteous he is. Look, there’s only a few righteous people, and the king of S’dom is black, he’s in the middle on the pine cone. You can’t actually see someone’s righteousness on their skin – look! he’s a green righteous! – It’s a metaphorical [sic].”

And the details they came up with to make the text come alive! Amazing. “Adonai is yellow, because he’s the golden Adonai. Those are his three angels. The visitors to Avraham are also angels. That shell – it’s the food Avraham’s helper made.”

Now I want to know: what else could I put in the room to provoke such joyous play among fifth graders?

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