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 Nomita and her family.
Please tell us a bit about you and your family.
We are a small family of three – me, my husband Richard and our 5 year old daughter, Anya.
We are lucky to live in a garden square so in the warmer months, we spend a lot of time playing in the garden in front of our home. We take balloons, bubbles, balls or anything else we have around. There are always other kids playing so Anya has no trouble finding a companion and neither do I with all the mums there.
In a free day what is your family favorite activity?
We don’t have a favourite activity but a range of favourites that include trying out new restaurants or cooking at home and getting Anya involved. We often visit family and friends or spend a day exploring a part of London that we want to see more of.
In Summer we spend a lot more time at parks, the zoo and other outdoor activities. In Winter, we love a cosy stay at home day when we bake cookies or a cake, eat popcorn, play lots of board games, read books and watch a movie.
How do you play with your kids? With what kind of toys?
Our play has naturally evolved as Anya has gotten older. Now it’s less about toys and more about crafts, games and dressing up. I tend to play quite a few board games with Anya and we often do jigsaw puzzles or sometimes she will even manage to convince me to do some colouring with her! She also likes to involve me in her Lego and dressing up doll play.
More than anything, Anya and I both really enjoy playing silly, made-up games. We make up the games together and the sillier, the better! I love seeing her delight and giggle and laugh at all the silliness!
What is your favorite toy? And from your children?
My favourite toy is Lego. Anya’s favourite is her doctors set – she loves pretending to be a doctor and uses all her soft toys and dolls as patients.
When you were a child what did you play and with what toys? What was your favorite one?
I have an older brother so I was always more in to his toys like cricket sets, toy cars, action figures and all that boy stuff. I guess like many younger siblings, I wanted to be like him back them.
What kind of crafts/DIY projects do you like to do with your kids?
We do anything and everything but fairly simple stuff as I’m not the craftiest mum in the world! Last weekend we sharpened a whole load of pencils and then used the shavings to stick on pictures. Once we made mustaches, put them on a stick and then wore them much to Anya’s delight. Today we made a few stick ballerinas together. I guess we just go with the thought of the moment and keep it simple and fun.
Much more than me, my husband makes more substantial things for Anya. He once made her a sailboat from the cardboard box that came with our TV. He’s also made her a dolls house, a pirate outfit and much more.
Your children prefer playing or watching tv? What they see in television influences how they play?
Playing is always the preference.
The one program that Anya absolutely loves is Art Attack so she often picks up some fun craft ideas and then wants me to do them with her.
What is your children’s favorite book? And yours (from his collection)?
I couldn’t possibly choose just one book. I adore kids books and there are so many wonderful ones out there that we’ve discovered and so many more to discover. At the moment, we are reading and loving:
1. Ramayana by Sanjay Patel
This is a book based on Hindu mythology but has been simplified a lot and is presented with the most striking illustrations. This book definitely isn’t just for Hindus as any child will love and relate to the story of a demon and some princes.
2. Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski
We just bought this book which is a large hardcover book full of maps from different countries of the world. For each country there are cute illustrations of animals, food, monuments etc that you would find in that particular country. Anya loves flicking through this book on her own and finding places she’s been to or discovering animals that she didn’t know existed.
3. Winnie the Witch book set by Valerie Thomas and Korky Paul
Anya was gifted this book set at Christmas and she loves them. Every book features Winnie the witch and her cat Wilbur and together they embark on a range of fun, silly and whacky adventures. This is probably Anya’s current favourite.
Please ask your kid “If you could choose to be a storybook character what would you be? Why?
It changes each time I ask her so I’ll go with the first response: the baby owl in Little Owl Lost (Chris Haughton). When I asked why, she replied ‘because I like owls and I want to be one’. This is a book Anya has loved since she was 2 and still goes back to it.
Do you know how does your children play at school?
As far as I know they have a mix of activities at school like playing outdoors in the playground during break time. They also have structured play that can be about learning art techniques, playing with numbers or letters, music or even role play. Each half term they have a new themed corner in the classroom that has ranged from a home (cooking) corner to a woodland corner and is currently an Arctic corner.
Your kids prefer playing indoors or outdoors?
Outdoors for sure. Even in Winter Anya would choose the outdoors so we do try and get out when we have crisp, sunny days.
Does your kids like to create their own activities / games / characters?
Yes. When the mood strikes her, Anya makes up all kinds of games often improvising with what she has at hand so a balloon can become a dog, a cushion can become a river, she can become a witch… the list is endless.
Sounds and music are important in your child playing?
Anya is quite musical and often sings when playing by herself. We often have music on in the background and Anya also listens to music while falling asleep at night. So yes, music is a big part of our everyday life but not something we consciously focus on, it’s something that is always there in one form or another.