I’ve got an idea!

Creative play beyond the toy
Reading time: 3 minutes

Why does my child have thousands of toys but still prefers to play with whatever he can find around the house, maybe something in the junk room waiting to be thrown out? Her bedroom is full of toys, but she complains that she doesn’t know what to play with. Why?

That’s because what adults think is wonderful and great fun isn’t always necessarily what a child thinks. Very often, when adults have to buy a toy, they look for something that has countless functions, makes sounds, talks, moves, says things in different languages, and if it features numbers, colours, landscapes and pictures, that’s even better! When children are given a new toy, they look at it, explore it, and at first they are also happy, but after a few minutes their attention shifts to something else. 


Why does my child get tired of a toy soon after receiving it?

Sometimes our children don’t necessarily have a lot of fun with multifunctional, ultra-sophisticated and super smart toys. For children to be able to learn how to invent things, to be curious about what happens if they push a button, for example, and to feel the excitement and drive to explore a particular toy, they should have simple objects that spark their creativity, and where all the moves and actions they can perform are not set in advance. Their minds are developing, they learn through experiences, and they create and have fun with their creations. They need to be free to play in order to be creative and turn a cardboard box into an F1 racing car, a toilet paper roll into a delicious ice-cream, and a plain little cup into a coffee for mum and dad. The toy or game only comes to life if there is a child playing with it, that’s why we don’t need supersonic toys for our children to have fun, toys come to life though a child’s imagination and creativity. As adults, we tend to have set notions about things, but children’s minds don’t work that way: to us, a broom is something to sweep the floor with, but to a child it can turn into a super-fast motorbike.


So what games should we play with our children in order to nurture their creativity? What kinds of toys should we give or suggest to them?

All those to which the term simplicity applies. The more basic and the simpler they are, the more playing opportunities they will offer. Play is shaped by the thought and need of the specific moment in which the child is playing. A positive experience, an unfulfilled desire, a dream to turn into reality can all come alive through play.

We should always remember that inventing also means taking to pieces, or breaking. When objects fall, roll away or break, children learn the basic principles of physics and matter. By building and inventing, children learn through their actions. Doing and undoing, making mistakes and trying again, assembling and disassembling require not only imagination but also a host of skills, including attention, perception, memory, concentration, problem-solving and logical reasoning.

Building is an excellent activity for developing the imagination, which is why construction toys are very important for the child’s development. However, it is also possible to construct a setting, an action or a task, and to do this we need a variety of toys that stir emotions, build memories and unleash every child’s imagination and creativity.


What should we do after giving or suggesting a new toy or game?

Children should be encouraged to express themselves through play and we should never judge their creations. Creativity is not expressed in the same way by all children, but play definitely helps to create opportunities for expression and for learning more about themselves and others. For this to happen, the adult must give the child great freedom of expression: colouring, running around, dancing, building, and so on – everything is important for boosting creativity.

But we should remember that our children are not an extension of ourselves, they are unique individuals, so don’t force your passions or the things you like on them, and don’t ask them to necessarily reproduce something from real life. Being creative means using a toy in an original way.

And when your child says to you, “I’ve got an idea!”, learn to share their sense of wonder. Learn to listen to them, get them to share their thoughts with you, marvel and rediscover with them the thrill of creative play, and experience and fully enjoy the emotions that come from helping your children to create, invent and grow!

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