I was recently inspired to buy a $10 roll of building paper at Home Depot because I could see its limitless potential. The kids have been in a bit of a playtime rut lately, facilitated by the fact that I keep buying them the same kind of toys (aka superheroes and princesses) and they aren’t being as spontaneous as they have in the past. Less open-ended, more thinking inside the box, and I wasn’t liking it. I want the kids to revert back to their unscripted, original playtime ways, but I found the storylines sounding the same every day. Until today, when I unleashed the power of the butcher paper and the kids and I built a kickass town!
Designing a town with a three- and four-year-old is fascinating and insightful. What do they think is important to a community, how do they like to play, what do they recognize as attributes of their own town? Our town has a lake so that was the first thing Jax and Em thought of as a requirement, followed by our home, a school, a post office, and a “food store” (grocery store or restaurant, who knows?). Then they let their toys dictate some of their ideas–a castle with a moat, a quarry complete with rocks and construction vehicles, an airport, a fire station, a shop, a jail. They would come running back into the kitchen with a new toy that had to be part of our town. So we added more and more until they felt satisfied, labeling all the areas for a touch of literacy.
And one of the best parts? There were no princesses or superheroes in sight, unless you count the McDonald’s toy Ninja Turtles who guarded the jail. They even had me climb into the back of our coat closet and unearth vehicles that I had put away as potential yard sale fodder. Old toys unearthed and loved all over again.
The quarry was definitely their favorite. Mine, too!
They have been playing with their town for over an hour and a half now, with no sign of stopping! So happy that this is how we decided to spend our afternoon, and glad we seem to have dusted off our imaginations for (hopefully) the rest of the summer!