There is a toy store around here that is named “Creative Kidstuff“. I am not sure whether or not it is a national chain, but there are several locations in the area. It is a great store, with lots of fun toys, activities and playthings for kids.
Nothing in that store can compare with the vivid imagination of a kid, though.
My granddaughters visited this past weekend, and we had an absolutely gorgeous day on Saturday. After a long winter of heavy coats, snowpants and boots, we took advantage of the chance to be outside in sunshine and warmth, no coats, and the girls even took off their shoes and socks. It was glorious.
But how do three girls, soon to be ages 9, 7, and 5 spend an entire day outdoors with their grandparents? We have a very limited supply of outdoor toys. They did bring their bikes and helmets, so there was a pretty good stint of bike racing.
After numerous speedy treks down the driveway and around the cul-de-sac, usually timed with my cell phone stopwatch, their attention began to wander. They looked up the street, around the yard, in the garage for things to do.
What can you do with a hammer, a large flathead screw driver and a deteriorating blacktop driveway?
Chisel out the precious “agates” embedded in the blacktop, of course! (We will be replacing the driveway this summer, so no harm there). They had a blast.
That activity kept them busy for nearly an hour. The youngest took a break from riding her bike in order to “help”. The older two were definitely in charge, and made a good team.
After watching them for a while, I was feeling guilty just sitting in the sun doing nothing. So I trimmed back the tall grasses that I’d left behind last fall. It’s not a big job, but it felt good to clear the dried grass away to allow the new growth to start. Hopefully it will start very soon.
When she saw the cut dried grass, our oldest granddaughter came up with an entirely new activity. She told her sisters to gather the grass into bunches. She ran into the house and came out with a roll of painters’ tape. As one girl took an armload of grass from me, the other two worked and taped the bunch together, like a shock of grain.
In fact, that was the idea. The oldest has become fascinated by the lives of the late 19th century Native American tribes. She has a doll that is Native American accompanied by stories about life for a girl and her family during that timeframe. Suddenly, my granddaughters were part of a Native American tribe preparing for winter.
As she explained to the two younger girls, they would need some of the grass shocks for food, and some to make their bedding in a sheltered area. They found a place between two large evergreens along the side of our driveway and made it into a “reservation”. The area of the reservation was marked with utility marker flags (left behind from past yard projects). The grass bundles then were used to lay out their bedding, and the remaining bundles placed near the opening to provide their food.
It is spring, of course, so there was mud. Three barefoot girls + mud = muddy girls. They coated the bottoms of their feet with mud. Because, of course that is what a Native American girl would have done in that situation. The youngest girl broke away here and there and used the mud for other things, including this:
She also made a good, old-fashion mudpie which she left in the sun to dry.
I remember playing like this when I was a kid. They were completely immersed in their make-believe world. They wrote the story as they played, each of them adding a line or two at a time. “When we were making the straw bed, then we needed more so we had to go back to get it, right?” The others would either agree, or modify the story with their own suggestion.
It was magical to hear and watch them.
Somewhere along the line, the play shifted again, and they began running races. The other girls ran up and down our 200 ft. front lawn as fast as they could while the oldest became a play-by-play radio announcer. Where she got this idea, I don’t know. But she knew how to do a sound only recording on my phone. She had the lingo down “She’s coming around the track now as fast as she can, and here she comes! She’s almost to the end!” She signed off on each of these races as “H___ L____, the Native American announcer”.
This brought us to 4:30 pm, and time for baths (those mud-caked feet) and dinner. They had spent an entire afternoon with a hammer, a screwdriver, a two buckets, some discarded grass, painters’ tape, a cell phone recorder, their bicycles, each other and gobs of imagination.
Creative kidstuff indeed.