Wow, what a week of highs and lows. We discovered that ‘We’re Roaming in the Rainforest’ Sensory Tale has been shortlisted for the Nursery World Awards. As a finalist for four years (not to mention some wins) we’ve got to be doing something right.

Our puppy excelled at puppy classes and then proceeded to mame and blind my children’s two favourite cuddlies – with product prototypes put on hold it was all systems go to patch up the sorry cuddlies before school finished. Typically keen to make an opportunity out of a problem, I gave my 5 and 8 year old a box crammed with buttons for them to pick new eyes for them. Then came the trauma as whilst playing in the garden my 5 year old boy discovered a perfectly smooth rod of glass, accidently left after a clear out. Enticed by its smooth perfection he decided to see what would happen if he bashed the floor with the rod. He then proceeded to write with the now pencil sharp point on a piece of wood before slipping and discovering first hand that glass is very sharp and cuts through flesh like a piece of paper. It was off to A&E (typically this would happen on the day the car broke down!) where he showed just how brave children can be. Without even flinching we watched as the wound was cleaned and glued together. It was only then that he crumpled and fainted with the shock and perhaps realisation that the almost abstract gash was in fact his hand.

Then came the excitement and intrigue of a police hold up outside the office, complete with unmarked police cars, vans of policemen and machine guns galore. Staff tried in vain to remain focused with a grandstand view of the unfolding drama – we never did find out what was going on.

Weary from the weeks events, Friday marked the end of school and the start of the long summer holiday. It also coincides with the launch of some interesting research findings – Free Range Kids (Gill, T. 2011). Closely mirroring much of the outcomes from the Sensory Play Research that we launched with Anglia Ruskin University back in 2009, this latest offering reconfirms just how different children’s childhoods are today compared to those of their parents. With less play outdoors, more indoors and technology focused, less play with friends and more with parents and more concerns about risk you’d be forgiven for thinking that children themselves have fundamentally changed. But the survey of 1000 children (and 1000 adults) suggests not so, with children wanting (just like their parents did) to play more outside and with friends.

‘Children have an appetite for experience. They want to get to grips with the people, places, and objects around them as they grow up. They learn much of what they need to get on in life not from being explicitly taught by anyone but simply from what they see, hear and do for themselves.’ (Gill, T. 2011)

And so I return to my little boy and his big sister happily exploring in the garden, like they do almost every day, usually with friends. Although this particular episode ended up with a trip to A&E they certainly discovered the properties of materials and their bodies, improved their understanding of risk assessment and cause and effect, not to mention how hospitals work. No doubt they will also treat glass with the respect that it deserves.

Gill refers to mastery experiences being at the heart of children’s play and that they vital for giving children a strong sense that they can make an appearance and have an effect on the world. My experiences this week were certainly evidence in bucket loads.

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