02 Jun 2014, Ruth Thomson
This is one of the best Siren Films yet, and that is saying something because Siren has a well-deserved record of excellence. The name is linked with film-making of the highest quality, and this latest DVD is no exception.
It uses the latest research findings about the physical development of children, and addresses the neglect of this important strand of children's effective learning and self-regulation. And - very importantly - it shows how practitioners can best support physical play.
The chapter breakdowns show gross motor play, fine motor play, self-regulation, social learning, rough and tumble play and risky play, as well as environment and materials and how adults can support physical play. Dr David Whitebread from the University of Cambridge has written the user notes that accompany and support the DVD.
There are lovely moments to savour. Some of my favourites - and there are so many wonderful sequences that it is hard to select a few - would include the little girl with special educational needs playing with the boy who comes down the slide and carefully avoids bumping into her as he lands.
This is for real, as wonderful moments like this could never be staged. The rough-and-tumble games are magical in the way they show self-regulation, and the all-important points made by the commentary will help practitioners in deeply important ways. Superb!
The section showing use of the hammer is important, demonstrating the competence of children and their ability to take responsibility when given a good educational environment.
Another important message is given in the section showing how even a small area can be transformed, at low cost, with natural and open-ended materials.
Giving children useful feedback on 'bumps' is yet another wonderful piece to view, as is the delightful scene showing an adult being available to play with the children but without taking over.
The scene at the end with the boy climbing the tree is a perfect finale to a first-class and important film. This is a thoroughly useful, inspiring and research-based DVD. Every parent and practitioner would benefit from viewing it.
The DVD, priced £89, is available from www.sirenfilms.co.uk.