These are “baby eggs” in a nest built by my three year old niece. This nest is an super example of open ended play. Think “back in the day” play before the Ipad, cell phone and toys that talk back. When you went outside and played with no adult facilitation. These materials were not given to her – she found them. Nobody was telling her what to do or how to do it. In fact, no adult was paying much attention, outside of keeping an eye on her. She was creating a complex pretend scenario where the eggs were to be protected. Her nest was strong and high on the sides, the baby eggs nestled on a bed of leaves. She planned to sit on the nest indefinitely because eggs “take a long time to hatch”. She was willing to do this because her play mattered to her and these eggs needed her.
Why is this a big deal? Even though my niece didn’t know it (and didn’t care), she was playing with no pressure and no direction. She was taking risks and using trial and error while building the nest. She was inspired by her own imagination. She was taking initiative, solving problems and working autonomously. And she was practicing compassion and kindness.
So take your little one outside, find some crazy open ended materials (boxes, tubes, rocks, leaves) and then get out of the way so he or she can get to work.