Line up two rows of chairs, and what have you got? An airplane, of course! Where’s it flying to? Turkey, where else? And who’s on it? A dog, a princess, a toddler, a nervous traveller, and a grumpy old man!

The children in this picture were on this plane for 20 minutes straight, taking it in turns to be the pilot, and the air steward, as well as creating different characters and scenarios every few minutes. The play was self-directed; once I’d set up the chairs and quickly established the framework of the drama, the children took complete ownership of the activity, becoming agents of their own story.

The plane may have been late taking off, there may have been turbulence along the way, and one of the children may have been sick all over the floor, but this flight saw the development of the passengers’ critical social and emotional skills:

*The air steward dealing with an angry passenger developed negotiation skills
*The princess learned to forge connections with people different from her
*The stressed-out businesswoman practised self-regulation techniques
*The dog learned to view the world from a different perspective
*The passenger who saved another man’s life developed leadership skills

Even the toddler conquered her fear of flying!

Play is an instinctive tool that whisks children away to imaginary lands where they can engage with the world and develop crucial skills.

Where will you fly to the next time you have a spare 20 minutes and a couple of chairs? 

Sarah X