Most days, I really try to save a bit of time in our schedule for unstructured free time. Of course, we have outside recess 2-3 times each day, and that is really important too - there is nothing like being outside, in nature, running and jumping and playing. But having time INSIDE for the children to self-select activities is crucial.
Many children love to play and work together at the Lego table. This has been a constant all year. A core group of builders, boys and girls in equal parts, have created a whole world. They negotiate over the "good" pieces, have made buildings and homes and businesses. They created a money system, a bartering system, etc. It is very involved, and a lot of work goes into making sure that everyone thinks it is "fair".
Recently, a group of students have taken to the porch area. I don't know how it started, but someone decided to take a piece of my chalk from the blackboard and make chalk dust. This dust, they explained, could then be made into paint. This intrigued others, and within a few minutes they had gone through my whole supply of colored chalk. A fledging business was born.
I ordered a JUMBO pack, and in just a couple days they were back in action.
I love to witness the collaboration and cooperation inherent in this type of project. Children deciding - all by themselves - that something would be fun and worthwhile. And that if other children wanted to do it too, it would make it even more fun and more worthwhile. I don't exactly know where this project is headed, but I know it is going to be good.