The children made soup earlier this week in our outdoor kitchen space! While their hearts delighted in creating a concoction of mud, leaf, and dirt soup, their minds were working far beyond this as a result of pretend play. Pretend play has a major benefit to social, emotional, and mental development in children and leads to increased communication skills. Children are allowed to be whoever they want and create whatever they want in pretend play. According to Pollock, this process of looking for solutions to obstacles develops the analytical skills of your child and promotes resourcefulness, creativity, abstract thinking and logical reasoning. Most of us don’t give children real, raw materials to cook or bake with, so they substitute real foods with ones they can paly with, like leaves, mud, flowers, and water! When children stir and pan of soup and comment on how delicious the soup smells, they are recalling past memories and further developing their cognitive skills. This imaginary practice of cooking, serving, and preparing food is beautiful to watch because the children are mimicking things they learn from their parents!
Moreover, this activity is extremely beneficial for the children’s communication skills. In addition to talking and discussing the ingredients amongst themselves, the teachers encouraged the discussion by asking open-ended questions about the project as well. In the Reggio Emilia philosophy, communication is a process, a way of discovering things, asking questions, and using language as play. We encourage children to use language to investigate, explore, and reflect on their knowledge and experiences. Instead of an adult asking questions and children producing answers, our discussion about their soup was a collaborative learning process that continued throughout the afternoon!