A Snapshot into the Wonderful World of Play in JG1’s Black Dolphin Cove

  • 2022
  • Primary
Scarlet Lai, Junior Grade 1 Teacher & Water Floor Mentor


Walk into Junior Grade 1 during Black Dolphin Cove Exploration & Play Time and this is what you might see.

On one table, five students are chatting animatedly about their drawings, another is hosting a puppet making station. She had presented during show and tell, a paper doll puppet she had made over the weekend and when one student had asked how she made it, the student had offered to teach anyone who would be interested during Black Dolphin Cove (BDC) time that afternoon. Students eagerly joined her table when it was BDC time and compliments circulated around the table (“I love your drawing!”) as well as shared expertise (“Let me show you how I drew my long hair”). 

In another corner, three students are at the junk modeling table. One student is making a table with an old tissue box. He had attached a bottle to a corner of the box and was problem solving his next step. He explained “I am looking for bottles that are the same size so the table can stand but this one isn’t long enough.” Another student was connecting two toilet paper rolls together trying to build a snake. He needed scissors to cut the tape. “Is this the right way?” he asked, holding the scissors upside down. After getting some help holding the scissors upright, he returned his attention to taping the snake body together. Some junk modeling pieces lay scattered from another student who reflected, "I was trying to make an Octopus holder for my Octopus card but it didn't work."

Over at the painting table, a student’s painting depicts carefully colored splotches of orange, red, yellow and green. All around the splotches and covering the rest of the paper were blue streaks. “What are you painting?” I query. “I painted the earth,” the boy explained. “So, on earth [when you look at the earth from space], you will see green from the blue space. But when I see my earth ball [the globe], Asia’s yellow, Australia’s a bit brown, Europe is red, Africa is green and New York is orange. Both the North Pole and Antarctica are white and the sea is blue!”

Through the rabbit hole connecting the JG1 classroom to the BDC play room, the buzzing sounds of imaginative play fills the room. On one end, students are dressed up in princess dresses and firemen outfits, playing with the cooking set up, preparing for a big feast and feeding Ms. Mierczak with her favorite delights (strawberry and banana smoothie with fish, cheese and mustard, anyone?) until she exclaims that she can eat no more. Another student is climbing on the rock-climbing wall and challenging herself to get to the top by avoiding “red lava” (red-colored rock holds). When she slips and falls on the blue mat, she gets up and declares determinedly with her arms on her hips, “ARGH! I am going to do it this time!” Meanwhile, a pair of students are huddling over a doll house playing family. The little mice family are getting ready for a picnic but the baby mouse is upset and crying. “There there, darling,” a student playing mommy coos, “I’ve got you. It’s okay.”

When the hour is over, students tidy up their play and plan for their next project or play idea for the next session as they clean up ("I'll finish the puppet next time", "I'll save my junk modeling over here", "Can I play dollhouse with you again next time?"). In less than 10 minutes, the students return to reality, preparing for the class coming up next. But during this hour of their wonderful world of play, the students have filled their hearts and minds with wonder and purpose created by their own autonomy and passion, making BDC sessions their favorite part of the week. 

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