For those of you who are familiar with my Adventure Island approach and have watched Adventure Island TV over on YouTube, you’ll know all about The Peg Of Power.
It’s a simple washing peg, sometimes wooden, sometimes plastic, that pops up now and then. In the programme, we never really discover why it’s called the Peg of Power, so today I’ll share its magic and, at the same time, open up some thinking about co-play with children.
Much of my philosophy of childhood is centred around the idea that we as adults are The Play too. We can have a role in children’s play because the more we play and show the joy of learning and exploring, the more they want our company, because they know when we are near something good can and might happen. It’s what I refer to as The World of Good Things, children and adults creating a shared space with one another so that all feel like protagonists in their own day.
If, like me, you are one of The Play People, then you know that you do this time and time again, since you value and honour children’s choices and creativity.
But where does the Peg of Power stand in all this? Well, it all comes back to the idea of playfulness and thinking like a child. Most of the time, adults live in the ‘sphere of function’, seeing the world around them as objects that they can buy, sell or use for their designed purpose; in this way, we often see a washing peg as a means of hanging up displays and paintings to dry, or for their ‘intended’ purpose of hanging washing on line.
Childhood however is never limited by ‘intended’ purposes. Instead it wants to re-imagine and reconfigure the world, explore, and yes, play with it, for this is at the heart of the magic of children. And it’s here that the Peg Of Power steps in.
Children love bringing objects to life. It is why the World of Children and the World of Story are so intertwined; both share the same joy of breathing life into objects. So the humble peg is the perfect way for adults to enter into this by story-dreaming it with ‘Peg Chat’.
Peg Chat is super simple. I used to do it now and again both in my direct teaching and the pop-ups in my co-play, and children ‘see’ it almost immediately. “It’s time for Peg Chat” I would say and then proceed to talk with them via squeezes of the peg. And of course it’s not just me who has a peg. The children do as well. They could have one in each hand, you could offer a range of sizes, you could stick eyes, tails and hats on them if you wished, but the joy of Peg Chat is that it shakes up the dynamic and believe it or not, children really seem to pay close attention when a peg is chatting to them!
You can put on voices, talk gobbledegook, say rhyming strings, alliterations, nonsense words, model sentence structure, sing songs, say nursery rhymes, tell stories, pretend to be the Queen, explore initial sounds or noises, share vocabulary, count to 10 and backwards, the list goes on. You can even invite the children to sit opposite one another and Peg Chat, either giving them freedom to say anything at all or show how they can find the joy in a specific small corner of learning.
Peg Chat can be brilliant for sprinkling vocabulary over children’s time, especially in Co-Play when using it to talk with them. Usually they want a peg too so they can speak back, and children also love having their Peg of Power pegged in their pocket, like a little friend who follows them!
And while these mini moments of rich language, learning and joy are spilling out into the room, two other powerful things are happening: children are exercising their hand muscles and building their ligament strength and even more importantly, they feel a strong sense that they ‘belong’ with you, something that the Peg of Power will be very happy to hear because that is its real magic, connection: you and your children in the World of Good Things…
Curious Question: why not give Peg Chat a go? It’s all about relaxing into chat and it doesn’t have to last a long time – just 30 seconds of Peg Chat can definitely give little hands a workout!