Thursday, August 13, 2009
Children love to play house, store, and imitate adult real life activities. This has happened for centuries. Our store was an old split tree on a hill next to my parent’s house. It worked wonderfully as our own personal “Country Store” to pretend we had products to sell and exchange. Right next to the Country Store was a home with a built in cradle formed from tree roots. Pretend was more of a necessity than a gift from my parents but I have never regretted the lessons learned.
Parents today can give kids the same kinds of pleasures of teaching them how to create fun from virtually nothing. Have you ever noticed how much excitement comes from an appliance box? Children are naturally drawn to boxes and the bigger the better as they create homes, car parks, and all kinds of magical places from them.
Playing store has long been a tradition among children. While it has become a marketing bonanza for toy makers store can still be a great learning and play activity with little or no cost to families. One does not need a plastic store to play store. One can use a table, a tree stump, or any available space and a store is created. Pretend money or play money can be used. Dollar stores have been one of the best bargains I have seen for acquiring play money for children if you want to improve math skills while playing. Save the pieces from old board games that have fallen apart. There are always ways to recycle them into new activities. Just bag them and place them in an activities box for these occasions.
Yard sales are great resources for finding items to add to creative play activities. While fake food and other items can be fun, you may also be surprised at what inexpensive “real” items you can pick up for your children to play with at these sales. Instead of expensive child plates that are sold at toy stores look for couples who are upgrading their cookware and serving dishes. Often those first sets are unbreakable dishes that were given to them that are still in great shape. These can be great learning tools for children. Want some mixing bowls to try science experiments in that you don’t mind seeing destroyed? This can be the place to find them. Want plates you don’t mind being outdoors for an afternoon play tea? Again these can be a great bargain sites. Dress up items are another reason to check yard sales.
Just remember the focus of the activity is creative play. Kids don’t require too many things to make it come together.
Picture credit: twodolla flickr.com