Monday, December 19, 2011

What happened to imagination?

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see."  ~Henry David Thoreau

There was a time when kids actually had to imagine that toys could walk around and talk.  A time when a stick could be a scepter, weapon, or horse. A leaf could be currency or decoration. Building cities with blocks, creating story lines with dolls - imagination was in full gear and could explode for hours. 

I am afraid that nowadays there are so many toys that take the imagination out of playtime. A doll from an existing tv show or movie.  Lego sets with prescribed plans that are meant to be followed exactly. Cars and gadgets that do everything for the kid - all he has to do is press a button.  Flashy and fun as they are, the ironic thing is how soon a kid will abandon the fancy toy and return to playing with the box the toy came in.

Why? Because of the infinite variety of things a box can do.

I complete agree with Susan Linn from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood:

"The best toy is 10% toy and 90% child," Linn says. "We've got all these toys embedded with computer chips that talk and sing and play and dance at the press of a button. But what they do is deprive children of the ability to exercise their creativity. The toys that really foster creativity just lie there until they're transformed by children." (USA Today)
Play is important because it is through play that children understand and learn about the world:
"Play is a really big part of a child's development," says Steve Snyder of The Franklin Institute, an interactive science museum in Philadelphia. "We don't play by accident."
Any toy can be a learning tool, he says. "Ask 'What would happen if we did this? Why might this happen?' At some point, kids stop asking questions. We want them to always ask questions." (USA Today)
Can you remember the games you played as a child?

For me, it is the most imaginative of games that I remember the most. Paper dolls from paper, playing school, carnival in the backyard, etc. All these games required little more than a couple friends and random items collected to create the world or our imagination.

Dr. Stuart Brown, researcher on play talks about the importance of play -and its not just for kids :


Hope you have a playful holiday!

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