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A Cobra Trap


This is a cobra trap. You can tell it's a cobra trap because it says "cobra" on it. (It was later amended to say "no cobra.") It is an emery board (standing in for a cobra because although he knew I didn't have a cobra lying around, he was still a little disappointed). Then there are 7 newspaper bags around it, since, "You need seven layers, because if it escapes from one layer,you have to make sure it still doesn't get out." Later, a parachute was added.

The creator is my nephew, a wonderfully imaginative 6-year-old we'll call T. T is smart, creative, sometimes relentless, and funny. He's also really fortunate. He gets to learn AND gets to be creative. He goes to his neighborhood public school, in a good school district, and loves the teachers he's had so far.

T is an example of why creative play is so important. He teaches himself through play -- whether it's with maps, science experiments, or designing robots. He's fortunate to have parents and teachers who encourage him and teach him about what he's doing when he creates. It can sometimes be a little frustrating to find your butter in the microwave, dog toy in the freezer, or (recently) a giant concoction of dish soap, flower petals, and water all over my kitchen sink. "It's a science experiment!" But the frustration fades when I realize how much he's learning. (Also that I can give him back to his parents!)

Kids need creative play. You can find article after article (after article!) about how important creative play is, but we often don't give kids the space for it, either because of academic standards that don't always match with developmental milestones, or because teachers or parents are overwhelmed and don't have the bandwidth to facilitate this kind of play. And some underperforming schools are so pressured to focus on academics only that there's just no time for anything else.

I don't know statistics, but thankfully, I've seen more of an understanding lately that kids need to play to learn. I personally know many teachers who are adamant that their students get the creative play they need. Remember, cobra traps may just be a precursor to inventing something that the world truly needs!

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