Friday, December 16, 2016

Everything Old is New Again

When I was about in kindergarten I remember that one of my favorite activities was playing with my mother's button box.  It had a wide assortment of buttons.  She used to cut them off of worn out or out-grown clothing.  She also threw in safety pins.  You might imagine that I would pretend to sew on buttons or sort them perhaps, but you would be wrong.  I liked to open up the safety pins and pretend they were birds.  The buttons were the eggs.  I would sort them for my various bird families.  I think I remember that game because I only got to do it when Mom's sewing basket was out and she was using it.  I think she probably wanted to make sure that I didn't hurt myself with the pins and didn't lose the buttons.  The beauty of this kind of play is that I used my imagination. 

Today's toys don't allow for a great deal of imagination it seems to me.  There is probably a right way and a wrong way to play with most of them.  They come with directions and batteries.  I think it has been this way for quite a while.  There are gluts of toys but most of them have a particular purpose and method of play.  I think that most of my son's toys were that way and he is in his 30s.

I could be sad about the death of imagination, but as I sat in a workshop on makerspaces last month, I realized that imaginative play is back.  Collect a bunch of stuff, let kids play around with it and invent things and call it a makerspace.  I wish I knew what happened to my mom's button box.  I still have most of the buttons.

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