Monday, January 01, 2007

Making Do on Mondays: Role Playing Around the House

We all know that imaginative role playing is important for kids' development and brain formation. Children are naturally inclined to "pretend" or imagine; they don't actually need us to "teach" them what to do... brilliant little beings they are! As adults, the best thing we can do for them is to offer an environment conducive to this type of play and even join in on the fun every now and again (this really spurs them on that what they are doing is worthwhile and interesting). I've learned a lot about HOW to play from my own kids and want to share a couple basic ideas we have on role playing games that don't require money.

Grocery Store
I've seen in many "educational stores" the fun plastic fruits and and other play foods that people buy to encourage kids to play house or what-not. Well, my boys taught me a much more economical plan! I found them digging through my recycling box pulling out cardboard boxes (like cereal, macaroni etc...) and old tin cans (be careful about these since they can be sharp... I don't mind them playing with my unused cans for this very reason) to set up their own little grocery store. They line up the different food items on the kitchen table and chair or bookshelves; then they push around my laundry baskets while they go "shopping." It's brilliant! One child usually acts as the cashier while the other is shopping (but they both like pushing around the 'shopping carts' full of 'food' regardless of their roles.)

We went to a church auction a while back and were disappointed when we got outbid on a box full of boys' dress-up clothes. I wanted so bad for them to have many costumes to play with and enjoy. So what did I do? I went home and made them our own! Mind you, I'm not the greatest sewer in the world so I needed EASY costumes. First of all, I cut a rectangle out of an old white tablecloth... cut a hole in the middle for a head and then used permanent markers to color a cross and other symbols on the garment... and ta-da! We have little priests in the family now. Another costume we made was out of a soft rabbit hair sweater someone gave me (I know this will make the fashionistas cringe out there because it was undoubtedly a very expensive sweater. But it didn't fit right and it was a free hand me down, and c'mon... rabbit hair with MY lifestyle?!?! Ha! That thing would've been covered in spit-up or oatmeal or something... within five minutes!). I cut the arms off the sweater and did a jagged cut along the bottom and suddenly, we have a cave-man outfit! (Or John the Baptist outfit if you want to be a bit holier...). I've put bandanas around necks and colored little freckles on their faces while they are in overalls and rainboots and we have country bumpkins. It's also easy to make a cape from a sheet or towel and tie a bathrobe tie around the waist with a stick in it for a knight's costume. Anyway, the point is that you don't need expensive dress-up clothes to have a good time.

Outer-Space/The Jungle
If you have bunkbeds, the possibilities for role playing are endless if you simply hang a blanket or sheet from the top rail over the bottom area. When we do this, it's our rocket ship and we have to fight off the aliens (little brother) that comes in from outer space.

We play Jungle by simply moving furniture in funny spots, like the dining room benches into the living room, and hanging blanket or sheets over windows and couches. There's no wrong way to do this... just turning a "normal" room into something crazy, can inspire kids to think outside of the box so to speak. They see that the ordinary world has many possibilities if we only show them ways to see things from an unordinary perspective.

The Famous Stick
Give a kid a stick (outside) and he can be happy for a long time, especially if you are willing to play with him. My boys love hunting for just the right stick at our neighborhood park and then using them as all kinds of tools, toys, weapons and instruments. Sticks to us have been everything from pets, swords, drumsticks, tails, "pathfinders", wings, magic wands, shovels, baseball bats, and fishing rods. The possibilities are endless.

I would love to hear the frugal role playing games your own families have...

-Ellie, Oak Harbor


one of us :: 11:35 AM :: 1 Comments