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 Shelly and her family.
Please tell us a bit about you and your family.
Hello! My name is Shelly Lloyd-Samson, I am a creator, an artist, a Catholic, a swing dancer, a visual effects producer, a laugher, an optimist, a coffee drinker, an entrepreneur, and owner of Creating Creatives, an online space with fun and simple projects to help encourage creative exploration. I am also the wife of my most amazing husband, Roy. He is a technical trainer at SpaceX and has super power strengths when it comes to story telling, teaching and being an incredible dad to our 3 little creatives. Speaking of, let me introduce you to them, first there is Trystan (6), he is just like his daddy, a little engineer, with the biggest heart. Then there’s Zoey (4) who is just like her mum, an artist who believes in the probability of imagination and also believes in herself, the little firecracker. Finally there’s Zachary (2) he is a hybrid of the first two; the sweetest little monkey, he loves to play make believe, make art with his sister, and will give his brother a good run for his money on the wrestling floor!
The best playground is wherever we are. When we’re at a park the play structure becomes an ice-cream stand where handfuls of sand is sold for a pocketful of stones. When we’re at home, our little creatives turn cushions, chairs and pillows into what they call “lion stations”. I have NO idea where this term came from, but it’s basically an obstacle course made of everything they can lift and move around in the house. If we HAD to choose an actual playground: Disneyland! The best way to enjoy the happiest place on earth is to set aside two days. Book the Disneyland Hotel which lets you into the park an hour early. You spend Saturday lounging in the hotel, and taking advantage of the water slides and pools. On Sunday, you go in an hour early and ride as many rides as you can (which is usually a day’s worth of rides). When the park opens and everyone heads to the rides, you take a breakfast break with the family. And the rest of the day is just a huge bonus watching shows and hanging out in the happiest place on earth.
On a free day, what is your family’s favorite activity?
Now that we’ve moved closer to the beach, it’s going to the beach! There’s something so refreshing about the sea air and the wide open spaces for the kids to run around in. There are lots of yummy places to eat, and stores for eye candy and inspiration, and of course the sand. Boy do my little creatives love the sand, they love building things with it, covering themselves in it, and finding treasures, especially shells in it. It’s a place where the kids and be kids, run their little hearts out, and scream and yell into the open air, and we as parents don’t have to sweat them breaking something, or worry that their behavior isn’t the right fit for the place we’re in. It calms and invigorates all of us.
How do you play with your boys? With what kind of toys?
I love doing arts and crafts with my kids. We make our own toys, decorations, wearable pieces and even toys for their stuffed toys. For me there is just something so wonderful about sitting at a table together and creating. We all inspire each other, everyone is happy and in their zone and we end up with something we’re proud of. To keep things from getting too chaotic, I’ll usually set out only a few supplies that we use to create, this keeps things simple and takes away that stressful feeling of ‘my house is being destroyed!’.
What is your favorite toy? And your children’s?
My favorite toy has got to be our art supplies. We have an art playroom, and my little creatives are there every day making cards, drawing pictures, designing games and just being creative. My children are also really into Lego’s / Duplo’s and their train set. I love seeing how both these toys can entertain all 3 in their different age ranges, for so long. They’re a major win!
When you were a child what did you play and with what toys? What was your favorite one?
I don’t remember having a specific toy that I loved to play with. I think I had some hand me down barbies that I played dress up with, and a stuffed little kitty doll. I also remember receiving a mixer (think KitchenAid) for my birthday which I was very excited about, but when we opened the box it was a ‘Red’ doll, one of the characters from Rainbow Brite, funny how I was more excited about the mixer! Taking a little time to think about it my fondest memories growing up were in our backyard. We played make believe, we gardened, we rode bikes, we caught salamanders, and dug ‘waterfalls’, we made potions and perfume galore! Our backyard and nature was our biggest and most treasured toy by far.
What kind of crafts/DIY projects do you like to do with your kids?
Oh my gosh, way too many. I’m a huge craft / DIY fan, as is my daughter and youngest son. On a daily basis they have access to almost all our art supplies. I have all our supplies in clear containers so they can see what they have access to, and get their imagination churning. I find having art supplies accessible to them they create much more. It’s also great inspiration for me, seeing what they make often inspires me to make something. When I sit down to make something it often inspires them and the circle continues, it’s quite a beautiful thing. We like to do all kinds of crafts and DIY’s, right now I’d say we’re on a ‘wearable art’ binge – masks, crowns, jewelry etc. A key that I have found to keeping things creative is to switch things up. If there’s something that isn’t getting used much, I’ll display it in a different way which usually draws their attention right to it. I also change up the location we create in, its especially fun taking the materials outside, or on the big dining room table, sometimes we stick paper to the wall and color on it, other times we’ll take it under the table. You can check out some of the projects we love to do over on my website.
Do your children prefer playing or watching tv? Does what they see on television influence how they play?
When TV is an option, most of the time they’ll choose TV (which for us is Netflix, Amazon or Kids YouTube). However, after watching TV, they are usually not the best version of themselves, tantrums occur more often, and arguing is more frequent. When TV is not an option they are quite happy playing with each other and their toys. So I try to keep TV limited to just a couple hours on the weekend only. The TV they do watch definitely influences the imaginary part of their play. I’ll hear them playing Jake and the Neverland Pirates together, or Paw Patrol, or their new favorite is PJ Masks. It’s simply the best when they all play together with each other.
What is your children’s favorite book? And yours (from their collection)?
Trystan: Used to love reading the assembly instructions to his erector sets, now he’s all about Pokemon (he reads a book that contains all their stats); Zoey: 5 Minute Princess Stories (Disney); Zachary: Leapfrog (Scout read along books); Me: Childcraft Childrens’ Encyclopedia set that my husband has had since he was little.
Please ask your kids “If you could choose to be a storybook character what would you be? Why?”
Zoey: “I would Sleeping Beauty, because my favorite color is pink and I lovvvve sleeping!” I’m still pondering the sleeping part, but if it is true she must get it from her mother.
Zachary said he would be a pig from the 3 little piggies, though he also makes a pretty cute, ehhem, I mean ‘scary’ Big Bad Wolf.
Trystan: “I would be the little bear from Goldilocks and the Three Bears, because bears give the best hugs” Gah! I told you he had a big heart.
Do you know how does your children play at school?
I’ve seen Zoey and Trystan play outside at recess a couple times, which has been really nice. Zoey likes playing make believe with her friends. They all run around the school yard pretending to be different characters going on different adventures. Trystan likes playing dodge ball, and tag with his classmates.
Your kids prefer playing indoors or outdoors?
Outdoors definitely. They love riding their bikes around the backyard and playing hide and seek with each other. They love finding different animals, their current favorite is finding snails. They love making potions and playing with water It makes my heart sing, and reminds me of when I was little.
Does your kids like to create their own activities / games / characters?
Yes! We are really big story tellers in our house. I think it’s such a great skill to learn, for myself as well as my children. It teaches them about character development, and why they like or dislike a character, it teaches them about story structure, beginning, middle and end, but most importantly it teaches them to use their imagination and not be afraid to just make something up on the spot. We never judge anyone’s story, there is no right or wrong way to tell it, and I have found it really opens us up to their little or rather big imaginations. Other than making up stories, Zoey and Zachary love creating their own characters and playing make believe, they love pretending to be dogs and cats, and playing school. I love how you included games into this question, because my oldest son, Trystan, is not so much into make believe, he never has been, but he loves making up games. He makes up games in the car, while we’re waiting in line, at home, pretty much anywhere he is. He comes up with challenges, riddles, puts spins on familiar games, and invents games I’m still wondering how they work. We encourage our children to always keep creating. We do this by participating with them when they ask, and truly trying to understand their creations. We also challenge them by asking lots of questions and encourage them to do the same.
Sounds and music are important in your child playing?
Oh yes, when we watch children’s movies the end credits usually become a dance party where we turn on a disco light and dance the final ounce of energy away before bedtime. We also love playing singing and clapping games in the car and usually have some sort of sound track going on throughout the day. Our current favorite is the Troll sound track, with frequent requests for ‘Get Back Up Again’ and ‘True Colors’.
Thank’s a lot sweet Shelly for sharing with us a little of your creative joyful family!
Shelly’s site Creating Creatives is a colorful place filled with imaginative, fun and simple projects to make with your kids.
Her instagram here.
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.