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 Mie and her family.
Please tell us a bit about you and your family.
My name is Mie. I am a danish mother of three. Birk (10), Ines (7) and Fjor (5). I am an occupational therapist who has specialised in Mental Health. My husband is an architect. I try to spend as much time as possible with my children as I believe that time is the best gift I can give them. My two oldest goes to school and my youngest kindergarten.
I strongly believe in raising creativity and curiosity in my children. I do my very best to focus on the process and see where it gets us. Play is a central part of that process – it’s the best way to learn, I believe. Therefore I am happy to share my perspectives with you.
Nature. For sure and as my kids gets older, I see how many benefits there are from exploring nature. It’s opened-ended space and my children get to use their imagination, body and instincts. So I rather take them outdoors to explore nature than visiting a playground.
On a free day, what is your family’s favorite activity?
On a day free we would go for an outdoor trip, do a creative project or hang out with friends or family. We love to take it slow as we believe slowness make us more awake. Activities are often combined. So we may go outdoors, the children pick up stuff along the way and afterwards they create or play with what they have found. It adds such a sweet coherence between activities.
How do you play with your kids? With what kind of toys?
I don’t know why, but sometimes I find it easier to be around children than adults. Because their ability to play, brings up the inner child in me. We are born to know how to play but as we grow many of us loose that spirit of fun and openness. My own curiosity is woken, I play along, and act silly. When my kids were little, I would set up lots of invitions to play and play along with them. I believe that playing with your kids builds up a bond that will last forever. Now they are older, they play a lot together and I get to enjoy them from a distance and experience the benefits of how play is a strong power deep inside them.
What is your favorite toy? And your children’s?
When it comes to toys, I have always been very critical. When I look at our toys and the ones that have been most used and loved, its open-ended toys. Toys that can be used for so many things in so many ways. They foster play, creativity and imagination and all of my children can join the play. From very little on my children have preferred to play with real things fx pots, pans instead of miniature editions of kitchen things. So I have tried to give them real things. We don’t have many toys in the house. I have experienced that my children easy loose interest in contemporary plastic toys.
Some of our favorite things to do is building dens and create role play around it. I believe that play is basically about practicing important lifeskills and what is really amazing when my children plays roll play, is that I see them practicing social skills. The each have specific responsibilities and function within the game and there is so much learned from collaboration, negotiation and even conflicts. They depend on each other to be able to construct a play. The build up strong relations that are unsupported by us as parents.
Another one is KAPLA. The possibilities are endless. The joy of the creation is joined by the pleasure of destruction.
And LEGO DUPLO – building from their free imagination. My kids have never really liked to follow an instruction and I much rather have them create straight from their imagination.
When you were a child what did you play and with what toys? What was your favorite one?
My dad is a carpenter, so he has build many little houses for us to in. Some of my clearest memories are from cooking with sand and mud in those and decorating with beautiful fresh flowers from my mother’s garden. My father has built a little wood kitchen for my kids to play at. It has been one of their most favourite place to play. Its sturdy enough to climb on and has a real water tap and sink. I hope to pass it on to my own grandchildren one day.
What kind of crafts/DIY projects do you like to do with your kids?
I try to do creative projects with my kids on daily basis. It helps us build up strong bond that hopefully will last a lifetime. I’ve read somewhere that families who play together, stay together. It can be a simple invitation to create or a more complex one. We always focus on the childled process rather than the end result. We try to recycle as much as possible or use what surrounds us. You can see more to our projects on my instagram page. It’s all about exploring materials and techniques – it’s fun to see how the same point of departure can lead to so many different destinations and results. Now that my children are older, it’s so wonderful to see how their personality shines through in their different approach and work.
Do your children prefer playing or watching tv? Does what they see on television influence how they play?
My children loves to watch TV (I don’t know children who don’t) and they do watch tv. But screens kill their creativity. Therefore we have limited screentime in our house and also days with no screentime at all. When I tell them to close the TV, its often followed by boredom, unbearable boredom. And out of this, comes the most amazing ideas. I have seen it over and over again. They can also create a play around something they have seen in tv. Its often from those baking shows where they go outside and create beautiful cookies or food from mud, sand or flowers or use the play dough.
Do you know how does your children play at school?
They love to play at school. To support friendship the teacher often have decided who they will play with. So they will play with all the kids in their class, also boy/girl mix. I love that.
Your kids prefer playing indoors or outdoors?
As the weather in Denmark is very cold, rainy and dark during winter, they prefer to play inside. But once they are outside, they love it. In the summertime they prefer to play outdoor. Outdoor play gives them the ability to play with water, mud, flowers, wood, branches etc. Things that are more messy to play with need more space. I prefer for them to play outside too as they have more space and are able to run and use their body too.
Does your kids like to create their own activities / games / characters?
YES THEY DO!! What I love most about my children’s play is their ability to come up with inventive and clever activities, games or characters. It’s always in the process they are taking things to another level as they are pure in their imagination and dreams. When I observe their play, I see that it’s the road and the process towards a den or a role play that is what catches their attention immediately. When they have fulfilled their idea, we take down the play as they loose interested and their mind prepare for new ideas.
Sounds and music are important in your child playing?
We often listen to music while playing and creating. Music is a fundamental part of our lives. I have learned that I am able to keep them more concentrated and motivated with music. Mostly we use music to dance and to improve body awareness. I want my children to have a good understanding and feeling of their own body. I have encouraged them to dance from early on, just in the livingroom or the terrasse, nothing fancy. Being able to move without shyness in front of each other and understanding the connection between body and music. When you dance you need to be able to improvise your moves and go with the flow and it’s the same process you go through in other creative processes.
Thank you so much dear Mie for the enthusiasm you showed doing this interview – we loved knowing a little about your (very) creative family!
Mie shares regularly simple + curious + sensory activities she does with her children 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.