A perfect time for playtime—March 1, 2013
Decades have passed since kids in my neighborhood and I spent every free moment playing outside. We’d climb trees, explore everything and play baseball on a hastily positioned field. There weren’t any rules or scores; just lots of running and laughter. Moms remained quietly vigilant, occasionally offering a popsicle, cookie or some kind of treat. It was as if one of us would think of an idea and everybody else instantly knew which direction to head. What wonderful memories!!!
Over the years, imaginative play has been shoved onto the list of rarely enjoyed activities. Computers, video games, and all kinds of other electronic toys easily outrank the spontaneity of a game of Hide and Seek, role playing or molding sand into impressive sculptures. An all too common site is the top of someone’s head or a group of heads as fingers move furiously over a miniature keyboard. Incredibly, texting is frequently directed to someone on either side. Electronic games seem to mesmerize participants as well. Frustration is evident, too, as players angrily shake their devices. The element of fun seems to be missing as is the opportunity to think and actively communicate with a non-electronic being.
Playtime with household props and favorite people generate rosy faces with twinkling eyes and breathless belly laughs. Blankets and sheets tossed over furniture can make a secret hide-a-ways or monstrous palaces. One young architect breathlessly described the cardboard house that he and his great- aunt had built. His eyes were wide, as his arms demonstrated the process of erecting a design that he was so obviously proud of. A snowy day is perfect for building an igloo using snow blocks frozen in breadpans. FUN is the best description for electronic-free playtime. “Playful Learning” by Mariah Bruehl provides ideas for play which also subtly help develop academic skills.
Puppets and role playing are a few of the ideas described in “Making Make-Believe” by Mary Ann Kohl.
Children can become anything or anyone when their imagination starts spinning. One fall day, a good friend of mine and her grandson walked to the library. They had collected interesting bits of nature which included a pair of gnarled dry tree limbs, but when she handed them to him, they became his weapons. His brows instantly furrowed and his lips pursed as he lunged ahead to stave off the dragon which had become a threat in his mind’s playground.
“Kids Who Laugh” by Louis Franzini points out that laughter is a tool for a lifetime of success. Many household activities can cause giggling, including housecleaning!!! Reading stories with great drama as well as as acting them out can be hilarious.
“The Mudpies Book of Boredom Busters” by Nancy Blakely includes ideas from water slides to snowman kits. Mudplay includes many activities too and ceaseless giggling.
It’s great for kids to realize that adults know how to have fun too. Why not set aside some silly time to join your kids in creative playtime?