“Play” is a word with many meanings. It can be a noun or a verb. As a noun, it can mean a dramatic stage performance (“We enjoyed seeing the play”), a dramatic composition (“a Shakespeare play”), an activity for amusement or recreation (“children at play”), the action or conduct of a game (“the catcher made an excellent play”), or a pun (“a play on words”). As a verb, it can mean a dramatic portrayal (“I play Lady Macbeth”), to act a part on stage or in real life (“I play the part of benefactor”), to perform in a city as a theatrical company (“Next week we play Peoria”), to engage in (“play ball”), to contend against (“the Celtics play the Knicks”), to so something in sport or in jest (“I’m just playing with you”), or to conduct oneself in a certain way (“to play fair”).
When it comes to children, the word “play” applies in many of these ways. Children play games, they role-play, they put on plays, they play instruments, they jest, they make puns, they vie against each other, they play music. For children, most of life is “play” in some form or another.
This morning, both of my children had a chance to “play” at church: they sang as part of their respective choirs, which included music being played by both a piano and a guitar, and also playing with their friends.
But the most important definition of “play” that was in play (ahem) this morning, was “an activity for amusement and recreation.” They were HAVING FUN. You can see by my daughter’s smile in this photo that she was having a wonderful time. They were learning, they were thinking, they were engaged, they were with friends, they were PLAYING.