November 15th, 2005

Lewi has a really special little friend, K, who he’s known almost since birth. They have an amazing relationship and connect like I’ve never seen two human beings connect before.

For the past several months they have developed a most amazing role-playing game that they play with each other every single time they meet up. It’s based on two characters, a unicorn and a dragon. The characters evolved from their interests – K loves horses and unicorns, Lewi loves dragons. To get their interests to meet and connect interests they made up this role playing game based on the characters. Each time they play they take off on a magical journey of adventure, drama and excitement as they, together, allow the story to unfold. Sometimes they add other characters – usually baddies who are villanous creatures wanting to wreak havoc on the unicorn & dragon land. Good always defies evil and, after escaping near death experiences and hair raising peril, the unicorn and dragon always live to tell of another day.

It doesn’t matter where they are – it could be in Lewi’s bedroom, K’s living room, on the branch of our willow tree, at the pool, in the river, at the beach, at a park, in the car – they role play their adventures and incorporate the setting into the story.

Last week they were at the pool. Enter the giant shark from the deep, dark depths! Unicorn and dragon went through some pretty rough water to escape the giant shark, but by the end of pool time the shark had been captured (and quite graphically destroyed!) and the two leading characters got to live happily ever after – once more. Unbeknowns to Lewi and K, others, from the pool crowd, were intently listening in, obviously mesmorised by the unicorn and dragon display. Lewi and K played on and had no idea anyone was listening in. The innocence and focus of these two little people, playing happily together is such a delight to witness.

Sometimes they will use plastic figures to represent their characters – a knights’ steed turns into a magical unicorn, a dinosaur conveniantly sprouts invisable wings (although we do have some real plastic dragons now that are able to use!

If I had to look at the learning that takes place when these two special friends play I could list many, many things. Some of them could include:
* negotiating
* problem solving
* story development & structure – beginning, middle, end; plot development – intoduction, a problem arises, trouble/drama comes, climax, problem is resolved
* turn taking
* sharing
* collaborating ideas
* flexibility
* extending their own imaginations
* differences between ficticious worlds and reality
* development of another world/land/time
* character development – differences between good and evil

There are so many to list, and so much learning that takes place which I, a by stander, am oblivious to. Needless to say, learning happens in all situations and in all experiences and these two little friends, playing their game of Unicorns and Dragons, is proof enough for me that natural learning is the optimum learning choice for us.

As the year comes to a close I’m looking forward to the adventures of Unicorn and Dragon as they unfold from the perspective of two little 6 year olds. Lucky me, not having to pay any admission!