Archive for July, 2009

Reincorporation is one of those apparently simple ideas that packs a lot of power.

As an improv performer, I’ve seen the incredible impact it can have on an audience to bring back an idea or story element. As an audience member, I’ve been immensely satisfied when a performer weaves something from earlier back into the action — even if I had forgotten it, I recognize it and find it deeply satisfying.

And who loves repetition? Little people. So who lights up at reincorporation? Yup, that’s them again.

The challenge for me is often remembering something to reincorporate. Here’s a couple of tricks I use when doing storytelling and pretend play with LP:

  • Repeat the element a couple of times immediately…this can be repeating a word or phrase or using an object a few times so it will stick in your mind.
  • Notice a connection between an idea or story element and a physical object so that physical object will jog your memory.

An example of both of these in action: LP had a long, involved story going with leaves in a nest (my hands) which involved a lot of repetition (putting the leaves in the nest, having the nest sing them a lullaby, feeding the leaves, counting the leaves in the nest, etc). A few days later, we were taking a walk to deliver a book to a friend and she stopped to pick leaves and did not want to budge. I walked a bit ahead and held my hands out like a nest saying “here’s the nest…” LP’s face lit up and she scooted over and we walked along with her new leaves in the nest of my hands, picking up the game right away.

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LP (newly 2 and 1/2) made up a game a few days ago.

The steps are:

1. Take a book off the bookcase and bring it over to the open floor space.
2. Place it on the floor.
3. Stand on the book and step up and down while saying “splash, splash, splash!”
4. Repeat steps 1-3

The first day she created it, she didn’t want to have quiet time (and that is a nonnegotiable in our home…you don’t have to sleep but everyone needs some rest) until I suggested she could splash again after quiet time. And that is what she went straight to — without ever asking for her usual post-quiet time milk.

She talks about her book-puddles and clearly has a plan of how this should look (relationship of books to each other). Occasionally she invites me or ImprovDad to splash too. She and I also spent some time where I would name a book for her to find and splash on.

Our home has a stream of books running through it. I love it.

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Sometimes I feel stuck in a rut with how LP & I play together. There are things I wish we did that she’s not interested in yet and things she wants to do for hours that I am not that interested in. And there’s the whole getting stuck in a rut of interaction.

But oh – other people’s kids are such a great opportunity! I’ve been finding little happy “yes” moments recently and the energy from those interactions is inspiring me to try and be more open to unexplored possibilities in LP’s play.

(Added to this is being inspired to stay more present on the playground…my thoughts got going after reading an entry on the SimpleKids blog)

At the playground recently, a little girl we didn’t know came over to join our sand-soup making. After something else caught LP’s attention, the little girl and I began banging our shovels together to make music. A wonderful thing about this moment was LP came back to check on us and joined the band by singing “la, la, la!” I sing to LP a lot and she asks for music often and I hear her sing to herself but this was the first time, she’s initiated herself singing in interaction with others. That’s a pleasure!

On Wed at the Farmer’s Market, I was playing with a friend’s daughter and realized that playing with her, brings out my clowning training in a way that I never think to use with LP. Just a little bit of widening my eyes and slightly over-reacting to things was such a fun game. I forgot how enjoyable clowning is!

AND saying “yes” in the world builds community. A simple moment can rescue an overstressed parent/caregiver, can let a child have a new and different experience, can trigger your own creativity….I want to feel as comfortable (actually more comfortable) in saying “yes!” and engaging in play with other kids as I do intervening if there’s hittitng/biting/etc going on.

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Just when I thought I had a good habit going of posting on Tuesdays, vacation hit me. Not a real lying on a beach vacation but a mental space vacation where I’ve spent every spare second reading a book and then another book (I miss summer read-a-thons. I always loved diving in to as many books as possible.)

But all is not lost improv-wise in our improv family. LP told me some non-prompted stories while swinging away at the playground the other day. Here are two (punctuation all mine to try and capture the feel of it):

There was a cow with a red helmet….the cow rode a bicycle round and round…and round. And round!

The red crocodile said…”let’s go outside!” The red crocodile to the purple crocodile….”let’s go outside”……….the…purple…crocodile said, “let’s eat grass in the backyard!”

Now that brings big joy.

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