This is the car mat I made for Jacob for Christmas. I actually made it last year but he has enjoyed it so much lately I thought I would post about it. I used examples from more than a few blogs to put this together. I included all of our favorite places and some places I thought would be fun. There is a gas station, train station, farm, bakery, fire station, car wash, library, police station, grocery store, zoo and neighborhood.
Jake uses all sorts of vehicles on the mat, even some of his big trucks. He loves construction and brings his construction equipment over to "work" on the area next to the mat to build a road or building that is not yet there.
He is using blocks to build a building. Notice he has his "workers" and his trucks. This play mat is a great example of pretend play. When he started playing with it he used the provided buildings and we would drive around visiting each one. The pretending was very surface level. Now he has moved up developmentally and is adding a deeper level to the play. He is building and playing with items not provided on the mat. This takes him using his experiences and his imagination to delve deeper into his play. He will build a road step by step with the knowledge he has gained from reading books about construction.
He will also pull his farm out and incorporate it with the play mat. Having the farmer go to the store to deliver food for the store to sell or going to the gas station to get gas for the tractor. Above he is having the firemen put out a fire in the barn.
Playing with all of these pieces together makes his play that much deeper. By having a deeper level of play it is showing that he can see connections in the world- how all things work together. Play is practice for life and understanding the world. It is very important for a child to be able to elaborate play.
Jake did not get here on his own. I get down on the floor and model play! We read books and we explore the world around us which all aids in his development. This is an example of play that we do that is unstructured. I do not have a secret agenda but learning is still going on!