Building blocks of imagination

Sunday, 13 October 2013

With the massive array of choice out there for children's toys, all shiny and flashing as they gobble batteries and break silences.  I know they're fun, that the kids love them.  God knows we have a toyshop worth of them conquering the lounge.

I can't help but think though that they remove a large portion of imagination.  They're so obviously something that it's hard to make them into something different.  They're directing play.  They even make the right sounds so you don't have to.  I remember once when I was a child being desperate for a doll that cried etc, when I finally got one I barley played with it.  I hated the very part of it that made me want it.  It took away the spontaneity and the sense of open play.  It devoured the sense of possibilities.

So it's always terribly lovely to see one of The Spawn choosing the basic toys and possibilities over the battery brigade and creating their own little universe with them.

Last Christmas we bought The Toddler some Octons.  Whilst Myself, The Husband and Thing Two thoroughly enjoyed them, The Toddler didn't really show much interest.  Until now.  He has played with them every day for the past week.  It's fascinating observing him.

Take this for example

A flying fire engine speed boat.
How utterly amazing is imagination?  Totally unprompted and unaided.  He saw something in his head and created it with these.

Then out came the old favourite, building blocks.  These have lasted through all three of The Spawn, Thing Two even still uses them now to create epic landscapes and castles.  So what did The Toddler and I do with them that day?

First we made steps, for his beloved wooden people.

Then we made a car park.

The Toddler then redesigned it and commenced building a rescue station

Which evolved into this

We then spent the next half hour having to carry out full on rescue missions as the stairs were on fire, people were stuck down holes and on roofs.  He was the ambulance and fire engine whilst I had to be the rescue helicopter and the police van.  We were the players and the writers of the story as well as providing the scripts and soundtrack.

All this from a pile of bricks and some wooden people/vehicles.

Obviously he adores his all singing all dancing toys too, even if he does add his own touches substituting parts of one with parts of another.  I love that he breaks the rules.  I love that he creates his own.

It's nice to go back to the basics at times though.  What better game to play than one you create yourself in your own universe?


  1. You're absolutely right - this is why pre schools use so many open ended resources :) When I first started I wondered why the children had old yogurt pots, fruit punnets and teaspoons in the water tray instead of boats.. until I realised they were using things to represent boats and so much more besides! Our most popular resource is a set of large hollow wooden blocks - they cost a fortune but they're used every single day without fail, in 100s of different ways :)

  2. oooh do you have a link for the blocks?


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