“Without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable.”

– Carl Jung

I will never cease to be amazed by the creativity of the parents I know.  

Yesterday, I went to three playgrounds before 12:00 with Nathaniel.   By afternoon I needed to sit down on not-on-a-cold-bench and hang out with an adult.  Happily, we went to our friend’s house for a pm playdate.  When interest in Legos and Magna-Tiles wore off, it became clear the kids needed something else – something physical, something left-brainy…    

My mom-friend rigged together a fort using rope, binder clips and sheets.  Our kids were shrieking with laughter and we could keep drinking our tea and talking about the world, kindergarten applications and holiday plans.  

Every day I get a new toy catalogue in the mail, encouraging my holiday buying power.  Although some of the toys really are amazing (I may tell you about them in another newsletter), yesterday reinforced my gut feeling that we already have the tools for play…giving them that open-ended, rough and tumble, release into fantasy that they need for both joy and development.

“Play is exactly about learning to control your environment, to figure things out.  Play is integral to being able to build resilience.  When kids play, they make mistakes and learn how to recover. It’s also a unique time for parents to observe their children and offer gentle guidance about skill development or how to share.”

Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg – Building Resilience in Children and Teens

So this is my Top Toys You Already Have List and my favorite games to play with each.  Enjoy!

  1. Flashlights:  From pre-teen slumber parties to pre-k playdates, flashlights are an indispensable tool-toy!   Have enough handy for everyone so there is no need for squabbling.

Play Going on A Bear Hunt with the flashlight. Watch this week’s video to see how.  Learn why it is a language booster and a compassion builder from Dr Aliza Pressman of Seedlings Group.  Dragons and monsters (or anything on the list of things that scare your kids), make great things to “hunt” too.  I love it as a courage-booster and an easy way to make a book into a game.

Play Laser Tag

Make Shadow Puppets

Create a pretend campfire, light up your face from under with the flashlight, and use Story Clap to tell a spooky story!

  1. Tin Foil: An awesome sculptural material, tin-foil is a craft that also lends itself to dramatic play.

Have a fashion show with your new crowns, cuffs and wands

Create a foil-animal zoo (googly eyes and pipe-cleaner tails also help) – name your characters and give them shape-shifting powers

  1. Sheets: Good idea to keep spare ones around or have a designated – play-sheet drawer.  

Fort Time: Drape over chairs, hang from clothespins, or otherwise get creative with your rigging. (Anytime kids can hide from us it is automatically fun….for everyone!!)

Toys Awesome Indoor Play

Play Picnic: Spread it on the floor and play the memory game “Going on a Picnic”, or make a stew of incredible ingredients to power you up for the next adventure.

Make a cape: use a binder clip to attach at the neck to make a regal robe (I’m watching The Queen right now) or a superhero cape.  

4. Masking Tape: an often overlooked member of the “junk-drawer” at home, tape (masking, painters or washi) can transform spaces and comes right up from the wall or floor after, making clean-up a breeze!

Create an Obstacle-Dance Course – have each mark on the floor – circle, lines, zig-zags, mean something different.  Kids will have to remember what each symbol stands for.  Use fun music and kids will get a gross-motor and prefrontal cortex work-out!  

Play a giant game of tic-tac-toe.

String it through your hallway, and set it up so kids have to go over and under the tape.

Use it to mark out a square on the ground and play Magical Elevator.

So, find a clever way to gift-wrap your flashlight, and you’ll have one less present to get for the holidays!  Chime in on the blog and let me know what your favorite toy-tools are!  See you next week!




NPR (2014, August 6) Scientists Say Child’s Play Helps Build A Better Brain [Interview]. Retrieved from: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2014/08/06/336361277/scientists-say-childs-play-helps-build-a-better-brain

Schwartz, Katrina “How Free Play Can Define Kids’ Success,” https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/02/15/how-free-play-can-define-kids-success/ (February 15, 2013).