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 Bonnie and her family.
Please tell us a bit about you and your family.
We are a Canadian family of five. We have three children who are ages six, four and two with two boys and a girl. We enjoy getting out into nature, imaginative play and doing creative projects together.
The neighbourhood that we live in is near a ravine with a river that runs through the city. This is one of our favourite places to gather nature for further investigation and to make projects out of. We are lucky to have several playgorunds in the communities that surround us so we enjoy visiting the different play structures. We try to partake in our school playgound with our neighbours on a daily basis after school- even in the Canadian winter!
In a free day what is your family favorite activity?
The kids love going on “adventures” to local art, historical and nature centres on the weekend. Their other favourite activity is creating- whether it be painting, creating machines out of cardboard or playing with play dough.
How do you play with your kids? With what kind of toys?
Our children have a playroom in our home which houses a variety of toys and books. I used to be a teacher so our collection is that of educational toys and those that were based on the children’s interests, most of which happen to be imaginary play. I have always had a passion for literature so a portion of the room is set up as a library. Each week the kids select different books that they take to their rooms in baskets. In the city we live in, children receive library cards for no charge and a literacy package when they get their first card. We enjoy going to various places within the community for playgroups- which have different foci whether it be sensory bins, learning sign language or something music based.
In our home we also have a craft room and a studio where our children can access supplies for thier projects. A cardboard box can lead to hours of enjoyment- one doesn’t always need fancy things for play!
What is your favorite toy? And from your children?
The toy that our children play with the most in our home is Lego/ Duplo. They love constructing items that lend to their various games. Lego can be used to develop one’s ability to decipher instructions and we love toys that are also open-ended that can lead to various explorations and uses.
When you were a child what did you play and with what toys? What was your favorite one?
My sisters and I loved imaginary play. We still talk about our various games which lead to a whole assortment of role playing and imaginative games. I think those days of play were the basis for a solid friendship that still endures between the three of us.
What kind of crafts/DIY projects do you like to do with your kids?
We love any type of creative projects. Our website features things that the children are interested in and techniques and materials we would like to expose them to. Their favourite activity is painting, particularly with liquid watercolours. Teaching art as an educator I found that this was the most peaceful time of the week, while we listened to music and chatted with each other as the students made their various projects. I was always impressed with the creativity of the students and I valued that each one make something that was uniquely their own. I think there is a beauty in both art and craft.
Your children prefer playing or watching tv? What they see in television influences how they play?
Our approach to screen time is to help our children connect with it in their physical play as well as to assist them to become critical thinkers. We make sure we ask them questions about what they saw and learned- particularly pertaining to the representation of people and ideas. When appropriate, we look for ways that they can connect what they saw to the outside world either through further exploration or trips. Our approach to digital devices is that we try to use it in meaningful ways- so for example we might use the iPhone camera to do a scavenger hunt or take photos of emerging spring flowers and then make a felt wristlet based on our observations.
What is your kids favorite book? And yours (from their collection)?
Our kids are currently enjoying “The Day the Crayons Came Home” which is the sequel to “The Day the Crayons Quit” by Oliver Jeffers. They enjoy the humour of the text and they discuss which character’s traits apply to them. My favourite books to read with children are the ones that prompt discussion with ideas to debate.
Please ask your kids “If you could choose to be a storybook charather what would you be? Why?”
When asked our eldest son replied, “The train from My Littlest Train (by Satomi Ichikawa) because the character is gentle. I like the illustrations, it shows travel by train and how time passes.” Our daughter’s choice was a “cat” from a non-fiction book on cats “so then I could learn how they climb and move. I could learn all about them!”
Do you know how does your children play at school?
Our daughter attends a play-based pre-school where the focus is on developing positive social interactions. There are many opportunities to discover and learn through a variety of activities and processes. In the province that we live, playschool prepares them for thier transition to elementary school. Our elementary school is small and friendly, lending to the development of friendships both in and out of school, across the grades. My eldest son and his friends engage in imaginary play both at the several recesses in the school day and after school in the school’s field, playground and treed grove. Our particular neighbourhood is quite a small one within a larger city and we have found our neighbours and friends to be very generous, collaborative and thoughtful and we try to teach our children those same values.
Your kids prefer playing indoors or outdoors?
They enjoy the expanse of the outdoors and using their imagination to turn a stick into a wand, a rock into a magic jewel etc. However, they are also happy to play inside as well as this gives them access to a wider range of toys and alternate forms of play.
Does your kids like to create their own activities / games / characters?
Our two older children have become very close as they are able to play in the same imaginative world with each other. This has lead them to become better at negotiating, problem-solving and collaborating. (Which is always a work-in-progress, requiring some mediation!). They have also become really involved in the activities we create for the website. Many posts are a direct result of an idea they have had or an alteration from a previous project we have done.
Sounds and music are important in your child playing?
It’s amazing to see how natural children move when music is played. At home, our children love to find and play music on our iPhones and dance throughout the house. Likewise, they explore the creation of their own sounds with our musical bin using instruments from around the world.
Loved this interview – many thank’s Bonnie your such a creative and sweet person!
Bonnie makes wonderful projects with her children and shares them at Make it your own – an inspiration for other parents who want to explore their kids natural play and make abilities.
I would really like to know how your kids play? What’s their favorite toy, the one they cuddle at night?
Please leave a comment below.