Knees and Paws began in just the kind of classroom highlighted today in the Teach Preschool blog. As a parent I observed children entertaining themselves and learning through an ongoing game they had made up. They were so involved in playing cats and dogs that parents started saying things like "my daughter has worn holes in the knees of her pants because even after school she'll come home and play this all over the house. The only knee pads I can find are for sports and are too large for her tiny legs." So, without any sewing skills, or even a sewing machine, I set out to make pairs of slip on knee pads for the children. During the time I was working on these, I noticed that they were also using doll socks from the housekeeping center as paws. So I added some furry paws and Knees and Paws were born. Richard delivered the first basket of these sets to the classroom and the children grabbed them up and wore them so much that within two weeks, the teacher said that they needed some repairs. (Since that time, the quality has greatly improved!)
I began thinking about children and how important it is to encourage their imaginations, but also their physical activity. Intuitively I felt that many children go through a phase of life where they pretend to be animals. I didn't know how long this phase lasted. If it lasted a week or so and passed into different forms of play, then maybe it wouldn't be worth sharing with a larger audience. I felt that this type of play was significant and important for healthy development, despite that it might seem to be something not to encourage (parents might not like to see their child behaving like an animal!) Through their game, these children were learning important lessons about boundaries and fair play. The more each child respected the rules of the game, the more fun everyone had. They were entirely self regulating in this game of their own making. No one was bitten or scratched, and when the game ended, they emerged from their game with flushed cheeks and ready for naps. And though it might not be recognized, internal lessons were learned: by imitating someone or something else, children begin to have a sense of their own identity in relation to the imagined counterpart. They were also learning a sense of compassion for animals in that they now understood what it feels like to see the world on all fours. This game taught them what it would be like if you could only communicate in barks and woofs. They learned through playing cats and dogs that domestic animals are completely dependent upon others for food, safety and affection.
Here are a few photos from customers who have been overwhelmingly supportive of my project, and some from my recent collections.
Thank you for visiting Knees and Paws. May your day be full of play!