Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Simple play things

I spent the better part of the last two weekends with this lovely boy: Noah, my 5 year old grandson. Together we baked a few dozen cookies and some sweet breads for holiday gatherings, decorated the cabin and worked on Christmas cards. He also played with Legos while I took some time to work on my pile of grading. 

One of the best part of our two weekends was just watching him play with things he found around the house.  Like a string and a little bag with handles. The string became his “zip line” and the bag became his basket for giving his small animals a ride. He spent hours playing with a set of Santa Claus nesting dolls that we have. He made all sorts of games with these nesting dolls, including an intricate game of hide and seek for the animals. He also played for many hours with a couple of milk jugs and an old utility tub. The milk jugs and some ribbon transformed him into “muscle man.”

What intrigued me about his play is how he used next to nothing to play for hours. He was creative and thoroughly engaged in his play. It made me think about this season of giving and spoiling children with so many toys. Noah played for hours with what was available to him. Yes, he  brought a couple of his stuffed animals to the cabin and yes we have Legos, too, but mainly he entertained himself with things that he found around the house. He transformed simple things, like string and a little bag and a couple of milk jugs into a magical little world of play and creativity. It made me think that we adults may have the toy thing all wrong. Noah did not need any of the commercial toys to engage himself for hours and hours. Just a few things he found around the house. He was happy, content and learning, too.

There are plenty of wonderful toys available to children today, including toys that build form a child’s imagination like Play Mobile and Legos. Watching Noah for those few days, made me wonder if all those toys are really necessary. Toy makers would like us to believe that they are, but my evidence form one little boy, suggest something different. Simple things around the house yield great playthings for one small boy.