The Art of Play

There often are young children in the art room, 2 to 4 year olds who like to play as well as do art. The interaction and storytelling that results is often very rich and has been a wonderful way to engage and connect with these younger patients. Themes of creating havoc and destruction and then finding ways to rescue and repair are played out over and over. Art materials like model magic are used to create rescue ropes, quicksand or mud. Dominoes, blocks and Legos are used to build walls, towers and castles and figures such as knights on horses, dragons and dinosaurs are the characters that play out the story line. The stories vary but the theme often remains consistent…the bad guys create trouble and the hero rescues those in need, and often these roles are interchangeable. The figures fall or are “pushed off a cliff” over and over, and they are rescued in various ways. As the rescue story ensues, it often ends with the rescued figures being repaired, nurtured and cared for.

This age group uses play as their work and these scenarios help them to address the issues they are facing such as loss of control, injury, fear related to treatment, as well as their desire and knowledge about providing support and tender care. Directing the story and being in control of the outcome provides a means for control of that world and an opportunity to address their struggles and strengths through the metaphor of play.

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