Encouraging news: in an article earlier this month, the Boston Globe reported that kids are asking for low-tech toys this Christmas. A particularly hot item is the Rainbow Loom on which kids weave plastic bands into bracelets, key chains, etc. Another best-seller is the “GoldieBlox, a board game intended to develop a girl’s interest in engineering.
I say this is good news because over the last few decades I have seen a decline in kids’ imaginations. Electronics have taken over the world of even the youngest with 2-year-olds using iPads. Little is left to the imagination.
I think back to the favorites of my own kids: the indestructible Tonka trucks, Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys. For the boys a favorite Christmas gift was a teepee and Indian outfits (Oh, excuse me, Native American) . My daughter was thrilled when she received a play pasteboard kitchen that featured actual running water. She especially liked this kitchen because her brothers would be nice to her so she’d give them a turn with the sink.
And, back in the day, I was so caught up in pretending my dolls were real that I even woke up in the night when I was pretending one was very sick. My playing school was real enough that by the time I got into the actual classroom I was already an experienced teacher.
And always, there have been – and always will be, I hope – books to foster the imagination. A book is a magic carpet that can transport you to any place in the world, can introduce you to unforgettable characters, can give you the opportunity to feel things outside your own experience.
So I was glad to read that this year parents may be buying fewer batteries and kids may be involved in interactive rather than solitary play, less screen time, and more imaginative play.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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