Yesterday at Table Top Time, we made some playdough, which is dead easy. The boys mixed it, and decided to add red and blue food colouring to make purple dough. My eldest son, especially, always enjoys playing with the warm dough, enjoying the texture and feel of it in his hands. As the three of them played with the dough and the shapes and cutters at the table, plans unfolded for a biscuit shop, so they began cutting animals and shapes to be the biscuits and arranging them on a large tray - similar to those the 'simit' sellers in Turkey use to carry their wares on in the street. (One of the things I am enjoying about home schooling is being able to bring the boys prior experience of living in another culture into their everyday life here - something their school was unable to do - thus bridging their life experiences.)
When the 'biscuits' were ready, they went upstairs and put together their wooden and cloth puppet theatre we to make the shop front alongside my middle son's toy kitchen set-up. They got their toy till and proceeded to sell their biscuits to me and to each other using play money. My middle son very much enjoyed typing the cost and money given into the till and seeing the change displayed.
I suggested they might like to make some real biscuits to sell and actually enjoy eating! So they found a recipe and read it, measured and mixed the ingredients to make a real dough, then later in the day, rolled and cut out the biscuits. This morning we have decorated them with writing icing, and the shop 'role play' has continued with my middle son writing out a few signs for the shop front as well.
This is an example of the way learning through play can develop naturally, and you can see how mathematics and writing skills are experienced within a natural context.
Do not be fooled into thinking our home is a haven of calm and productivity all the time. I should also add that there was a major argument as to whose turn it was to run the shop and sell some biscuits to Grandma and Grandpa when they popped in yesterday. However, I noticed a great improvement in my eldest son's response following this incident, which suggested some at least of what we have been working on in recent weeks is getting through!