I was working a floor puzzle with one of the kids. It’s a popular puzzle, one with fairies, unicorns, and a castle, but everyone else was busy elsewhere so we were one-on-one. Soon, however, we were joined by another girl, and together, the three of us fit the final piece into place. Then we began admiring our handiwork, as one does.
“I’m that one,” said one of the girls, pointing at a fairy.
“Okay,” answered the other, “Then I’ll be that one.”
When I didn’t say anything, I was invited, “Which one are you, Teacher Tom?” I picked one to be “me.”
“And this is my pet,” the first girl said, pointing to one of the unicorns. Her friend picked out one of the butterflies to be her pet, while I opted for a ladybug.
“Where do we sleep?”
“In the castle, silly.”
“Oh, right,” then bending over the puzzle, she pointed to one of the windows on the distant castle, “That’s my bedroom.” So we each selected our bedrooms.
“You’re room is right next to mine, Teacher Tom!”
“And mine is right above yours!”
“We can have a castle sleepover!”
“I’m just going to dive right into our land.” She pretended to plunge into the picture.
Then in mock panic, “But how do we get back out? How will we get back to our real homes?”
“We just say the magic word . . . Flower!”
“We’re back home again.”
As we played at diving into our magic world, another girl approached, using the language of a master player, “I want to play too.”
“Sure, we’re just diving into our kingdom”
“But first you have to pick a fairy.” The newcomer picked her fairy.
“Then you have to pick a pet.” She picked a unicorn.
“Then you have to pick your bedroom.” When she did, the others gushed, “You’re right beside me for the castle sleepover! We’re going to have movie night!”
“Let’s dive in!” and we all dove in.
We wove a story together about our magic world, forgetting that we were all fairies, switching our identities to princesses and queens. I was assigned, “The old grandpa king.” I was told, “You have to be jolly.”
As we played, I mentioned that we had another castle puzzle and so we decided to work on that one together as well. As the puzzle came together, we agreed that, when completed, we would combine it with the first puzzle to make our magical kingdom even bigger. Once the two puzzles were side-by-side, however, we had a problem.
“But, how to we know if it’s night or day? This puzzle has a sunshine and this other one is nighttime.” After a moment of study, we decided that the nighttime puzzle was where we slept and the daytime puzzle was where we played.
There was one more puzzle on the floor. This one was Halloween themed. “Let’s make that one too. Then we’ll have day and night and Halloween!” By the time we had pushed the third puzzle over to become part of our story, we had been at it for the better part of an hour.
As we stood admiring our work, we drew a crowd with a half dozen other kids gathered around. We explained our kingdom to them, who we were, what pets we owned, and where we slept. We invited them in by showing them how to dive in and return back home. We explained about day and night and Halloween, the three seasons in our magic place.
We watched our classmates playing in this place we had created together. Then one of the girls said, “This is the best world we’ve ever made!” and her friends agreed.