Kids We Love: Queen Gabriella – of Unlimited Imagination
In the same fashion that she used to be into Elsa and Frozen, Gabby’s new favourite story to play out is Star Wars. When she arrives, announcing her identity for the afternoon, it’s a total win for all the kids in the daycare, regardless of size, age, interest, or ability. There are roles for everyone in Princess Leia’s empire, and those who don’t want to play simply become part of the scenery, but they’re part of the play, whether they know it or not.
Gabby is the most beautiful, dangerous, sneaky, glamorous, evil, nurturing, imaginative girl, and whatever role the games require, she’s always ready to be the star!
While Star Wars reigns, the kids get to be Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, C3PO, and the teachers are usually ordered to be Darth Vader and the evil hordes.
Gabby’s imagination has a logic to it, and after years of magic carpet rides with her, I know better to take the side against her.
“No, no,” I say, stepping out of the scene. “I’m the narrator.” The Star Wars Adventure movie begins!
I tell the kids that we don’t need a bad guy this time, because… because, today Luke, and C3PO, and Princess Leia are going to be… trapped! On Luke’s home planet – what planet should he live on, I ask them.
“Tataouine!” Gabby shouts back.
“Well on Tataouine,” I tell her, “the gravity is suddenly different, and everyone has to walk with their knees straight and their hands touching the floor.”
I demonstrate the energy intensive action, and the kids, fully engaged, follow my lead – into a whole game of body stretching.
“So the team’s next mission is the space jump,” I say, pushing the floor pillows to the foot of the stage. “Two at a time, the kids, I mean, the freedom fighters bravely leapt – now Princess Gabby, and Marcus Skywalker, you guys go first, and then roll, roll, roll, over to the side of the ship, and then Jackson Storm Trooper, and Alana – what did you want your name to be, Alana?”
Joining the game, Alana takes a place on the edge and jumps into the pillows.
For spending time with four to five year olds, the name of the game is to keep them moving – together. The Star Wars adventure movie makes them into a team, and for the next two hours, it carries us from our stretching and jumping in the front room, to a space picnic/lunch time at the snack table, to the darkened nap room, to listen to the Barefoot Books Space Song Rocket Ship Ride CD, back to the art table, to make magic keys for the rocket ship, colouring and cutting industriously for another 10 – 15 minutes.
It’s a huge game, and as long as Gabby’s imagination is in the lead, it lasts… until she leaves.
Over the years, there have been several big girls with this dynamic charisma (Zoe, Emma, Avery, to name a few) and while engaging such enormous enthusiasm takes all my energy, the magic that grows is amazing to see.
Watching her imagine her way through all the missions and stages I can invent is a hilarious way to spend a Saturday afternoon. And Jackson, Marcus, Alana, Roland, Ziyad, and even little Emily are all enchanted into Gabby’s make-believe world, where they have important roles to play, too.