When Grant, my three-year-old son, decides to play with something, he insists on dumping all the pieces on the floor. It’s like he has to witness the totality of what he has to work with before getting started. He’ll dump over baskets of Lego bricks, toy trucks, blocks, you name it! Recently, he dumped over our crayon case (the one with 152 crayons). Afterward, he exclaimed to me, “Dad, why we have so many crayons!? We only need one.” It’s true; he would be quite content to draw with whatever color crayon was available.
As a parent, I’ve tended to subscribe to the idea that “more is better.” If my children like a book by a particular author, I figure they’ll like the author’s other books, too. Similarly, after seeing how much my children enjoyed playing with magna-tiles, I got more of them, assuming the boys would have even more fun. What I’ve discovered however is that no matter how much you have of something – crayons, books, blocks or whatever – a substantial portion never gets used.
Instead –and what always amazes me – they use their imaginations to create play things out of random objects. In our home, a blanket becomes a boat, a wooden ball becomes a blueberry, and a plastic ice pack is retrieved from the freezer to become a pancake. On several occasions, my boys have been more excited about playing with the cardboard box than the toy that came in it. Instead of going to Stevenson’s to do my holiday shopping next year, maybe I should just head to Riverhead Building Supply?
At CMEE, I’ve often wondered if we need all the plastic food that’s in the Museum’s kitchen exhibit especially since most children don’t care if it actually looks like sushi or spaghetti. Should we replace the plastic food with cardboard pieces, cotton balls and scraps of newspaper, which could be arranged into whatever kind of food kids wanted imagine? If you have any suggestions, please share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, or by emailing me directly.
PS: Grant likes snapping crayons in two so it seems he needs more than just one.