When you see a pile of blocks; my son sees a jungle, a ladder, a fleet of ships, animals, secret tunnels, mushrooms, dinosaurs and so much more.

Today he used these tools to build a crackling fire next to a river where he had spent the night camping with his teddy. He paddled down the river with his boat all the way to the ocean where he caught a big sea creature to cook for dinner. He transformed his boat into a pair of wings and flew back over mountains and forests to his little campsite to braai his fish in the cool air. While the hot fire sizzled and they waited for the fish to cook, he and teddy built a space ship and travelled to Jupiter and Mercury and many far-off galaxies to find the very best spices to add to their meal.

When you see a doll house; our children see so much more! They see a school, a hospital, a tree-house, a castle, a workshop, a launching pad, a laboratory, a playground, a secret hide out, a maze, an airport, a mountain, a ship, a space station, a guliacodium.

What’s that, you ask? It’s anything you want it to be! In the world of imaginary play our children can be and do anything. They are free to create, innovate, explore and discover. They are free to express and process their own feelings and life experiences. They are becoming the thinkers and creators of the future. The tools they need are simple. They need the outdoors, they need time, they need patience and our trust.

Open-ended toys are simply empty canvasses that slip into their hands and say , “Come with me”. They are toys that invite our children to write their own story. Toys that beckon our children’s beautiful intrinsic creativity. Toys that do not direct, but rather humbly submit to our children being the designers of stories and worlds that no-one has ever thought of before.

And in the process our children are becoming the next generation of innovators and dreamers.
The ones who can see the world differently. The ones who can adapt.
The ones who will have minds from which new ideas flow.

Let them play.

- post by @kerynbarnes