When you move to a new location, you explore the area, right? When you find yourself in a new group, don’t you “put out feelers” to learn what is acceptable? Perhaps this is why children’s first response to any new place or object is to investigate it – often energetically. Once they’ve established the parameters, they settle into focused play.
Recently I watched a group of four-year-olds when a PlayFrame was introduced in their centre. They almost attacked it in their eagerness: dashing round it, climbing its sides, zooming down the slide, climbing up the slide, swinging under the bridge, balancing over the bridge, hanging upside down, clambering between platforms… The children’s next encounter with the PlayFrame was markedly different. The speed slowed down and their actions became more purposeful, methodical. They had mapped this new piece of kit and could now get on with serious play.