I love watching my kids play. Especially when they are really using their imagination and creativity. It can often take a while for them to get into this sort of play. Lazy days at home on school holidays can often induce the kind of play where they can use their creativity. They can often go a day or more playing with the same things, just using their imagination to create different uses for their 'toys'. I'm sure I've written before about my dislike of cheap, generic toys so I won't bore you again. Suffice to say, I don't like that they all have the same look and feel and that they break easily. I prefer my kids to have fewer but good quality wooden toys. Or things from nature that don't cost anything! Although we are not purists in this respect - we do still own some plastic play things ;)
The play 'scene' - natural objects, plastic and wooden toys combine to make a creative space
About 6 months ago I put together some baskets of things from nature which has turned out to be the best thing I ever did. We have a basket each of shells, pinecones and river stones. There is also a basket of tree blocks that my brother-in-law made. They are always out for the kids to play with and often when they set up a 'scene' for play they will include these objects. Shells become a 'beach', tree blocks and pinecones become a 'forest' and stones become a 'river'. It's amazing how they incorporate all these everyday objects into their play and I think they've become the most played with toys out of everything. I'm looking forward to adding some more things to our collection. Play clothes are next on the list (once muslin finally comes back into stock at my local fabric store!)
More of the play 'scene'
I think it is important to let kids use their imaginations and creativity more widely and to give them the time to do so. We always seem to be rushing around and taking our kids to different activities without giving them time to just 'be'. I know for us, we are usually so busy during the school term that it takes the first week of the holidays for the kids to wind down and start playing together creatively (I seem to spend the first week of the school holidays yelling at them!) I'm looking forward to the rest of the school holidays and seeing what my kids create next!