“We gradually forgot how to play, also in the classroom,” says De Martelaere. “That is while children develop through play. They are curious by nature and want to learn, but sometimes we slow them down, albeit unconsciously.”
Nathalie de Martellari has been teaching for sixteen years and is currently a sixth-year teacher at Campus Kajee in Schöten. From the next school year, it will act as the mediator between pre-primary education and longer education.
“Often the transition from Kindergarten 3 to Grade 1 is really big. From playing to sitting still all day on a bench in class. It can really be different,” says the teacher. “Sometimes in the sixth grade I hear from parents that their child is finally happy to be back in school. It is a shame.”
Natalie has been a mother of eight years and is admittedly a jack of all trades. She has now combined all her educational knowledge, experience, and creativity into this theatrical bible. “But you don’t have to be a multi-professional innovator to entertain children,” she immediately emphasizes.
Over a hundred suggestions
“You can start with very simple household, garden and kitchen supplies. Hide the letters in a bowl of rice. Kids enjoy the search itself, but at the same time feel the letters and learn to identify them. Or sprinkle some sand on a mirror and add some cars, and see how creative kids can make dealing with it “.
“Parents often don’t know anymore that kids don’t need much to enjoy playing. That’s what I want to make clear in this book.” game! Contains over a hundred fun activities and game ideas. “These are bad suggestions that anyone can build on. With my two boys who are eight and five years old, I sometimes put some craft supplies on the table and say ‘Just do it.’ And then they start tinkering, not yet an example but using their own imagination. Each child unique and you should not limit it by making the same from an existing example.”
By the way, it is not a problem at all if your child is bored. “At first they grumble a little, but then they look for what they can do. I notice that they always find something and suddenly leave. In this sense, boredom stimulates children’s entrepreneurship,” says Natalie.
Unicorns and fairy tales
She knows what she’s talking about. De Martelaere has had a popular blog unicornsandfairytales.be and an instagram accountout_of_the_box_play for the past eight years with thousands of followers. So far there is her first book. “The blog has grown exponentially and this has also been reported by Belkmans publishers. The idea for the book has been in the maturation stage since February 2019, but it is only now due to Corona.”
It has become an activity book to play, but also to learn with young children. While playing, the senses are stimulated, but they can also be very creative with craft tasks, experiments, etc. “And he explained it all in a very easy way,” emphasizes Natalie. “There are already a lot of game books out there, but they are often very challenging. Play it! You can download ready-to-print materials via various QR codes that parents and educators can use.”
Everything seems very normal to Natalie. “I’ve always followed my gut feeling. Suddenly I came across some ideas that aligned with what had been there for some time in Freinet and Montessori education in the US and Canada. If this is dismissed as the principles of goat wool socks, it’s more common here today as well.”
Natalie owes her own creativity to her aunt and uncle, with whom she spends some time after school. My parents were in the catering business, my aunt taught me to sew and I was allowed to go with my uncle to the police in Oden, where he painted. I was also given a sheet of paper to draw. Every holiday I often played outside at Camp De Groene Linde in Brecht and fancied a lot,” she laughs.
All this led to these ideas, which are now immortalized in her first book, Play!. “Play is learning. Make something magical from it and learn from it,” she loves to share as a message. The book costs €22.50 and is on sale at Standaard Boekhandel and in online stores in Belgium and the Netherlands.