Definition of play: engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose; engage in (a game or activity) for enjoyment; amuse oneself by engaging in imaginative pretence;
Since I make toys – and I’m a mother of a little one – I begin to grow more and more curious about playing. How children these days play, how parents interact and play with them, how can we play in a fun way with them, how playing can help children’s development…
For this interview I have the pleasure to introduce you to Cintia Gonzalez-Pell and her family.
Please tell us a bit about you and your family.
I’m a craft blogger and stay at home mum to and adventurous daughter Emma (4yo). I’m Emma’s main carer as her dad has a very demanding job and isn’t home that much.
We are lucky to have several play grounds within walking distance, and a big park with a lake and open space so Emma gets to choose which playground to go to. There is one with a giant blue elide that is super fun for a thrill seeking kid.
In a free day what is your family favorite activity?
Emma is quite active so we try to go for long walks or scooter rides. We have just become members of Melbourne Zoo (Zoos Victoria) which means we can visit the zoo as much as we like for free, so that will be a great activity this year.
We both like to catch the train to the city and visit the National Gallery of Victoria which often has great programs for kids running,
When Emma’s dad is home she likes helping him with jobs around the house, like a little side kick. If it’s a nice day we’ll all go on a day trip to somewhere fun or for a picnic.
How do you play with your kids? With what kind of toys?
We often play role play and pretending games that Emma has imagined up. Usually I’m a sick patient that she has to perform surgery on with her doctors kit, or we play restaurants and I am a customer that she prepares play food for.
Lately she has been pretending to be Dr Frankenstein and I am her evil creation, then I have to act like a zombie. Often the toys are improvised like wooden castanets as wrist restraints or sunglasses as lab goggles.
What is your favorite toy? And from your children?
I do enjoy playing with the Doctors Kit which I made myself as my role often involves laying down (a nice chance to rest), it’s also a great way to teach about health and the human body. Emma enjoys it too because she gets to tell me what to do.
Recently I bought her some kinetic sand, which is so fun to play with and really soothing. It’s out in a tub all the time and Emma often goes and plays with it quietly on her own. I think the sensory play is really great to keep her focused.
Her most favourite toy is Jessie the cowgirl from Toy Story, she met her at Disneyland in Hong Kong and is a huge fan.
When you were a child what did you play and with what toys? What was your favorite one?
I didn’t have many toys as a child (that I can remember), mostly my sister and I played pretend school games and outside with our pet dog. We often built forts with the couch cushions.
What kind of crafts/DIY projects do you like to do with your kids?
Even though I’m a craft blogger I find Emma doesn’t respond well to crafts that are too structured. She is a perfectionist and gets very frustrated if things don’t turn out how she expects them to. Now I just leave plenty of paper and drawing materials laying around and she just draws self portraits.
Your children prefer playing or watching tv? What they see in television influences how they play?
Emma will always choose the park over TV but she is a real movie fan. She loves watching videos (not TV programs) and will re-enact story lines and role play characters. I was really concerned about the amount of her screen time a while ago but I don’t deny her if she wants to watch movies now as it has really makes her happy and encourages her imaginative play. She particularly likes ‘scary’ movies with vampires and monsters (all child rated of course) because I think she gets a little thrill from being scared but then empowered from defeating her fears.
What is your children’s favorite book? And yours (from his collection)?
Emma loves books and stories even though she can’t read yet, and she doesn’t really have one favourite. I read a few to her every night and some she know off by heart. Most of them she makes up her own stories from the pictures.
Do you know how does your children play at school?
Emma tends to play with all the boys I think, physical running around games like superhero ninjas, or dragon slayers. Her kindergarden is play based so there is lots of activities to entertain her.
Your kids prefer playing indoors or outdoors?
We don’t have a lot of outdoor space at home so we have to go to the park for proper out door play. I think she likes both but as an only child when indoors she wants one on one play with me, when at the park she makes friends easily and is very social. In summer we try to go to the beach as much as possible and she loves playing in the sand and swimming. For Christmas ‘Santa’ brought her a surf board which she loves and used everyday for body surfing this summer holidays.
Sounds and music are important in your child playing?
Yes, we have a few instruments that are terribly loud but entertaining and often Emma sings songs for us that she has made up. I quite enjoy when she changes the words to recognisable tunes, like re-writing the lyrics to songs to tell her own stories. Often you’ll hear her singing to herself.