Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Simple is often best

click photo to enlarge
A bag of modular wooden bricks. Without a doubt that was the best toy I ever bought for my children. They started playing with them at about eighteen months old, used them very regularly up to the age of nine, and could still be found making the odd use of them at twelve or thirteen! Houses, castles, garages, tracks, towers, companion pieces for the wooden Brio trainset - the bricks became anything they needed. And when they finally cast them aside, a little grubbier than when first bought, they were still completely intact, ready to offer pleasure to any child who wanted to play. A few years ago one of my sons asked about the whereabouts of the bricks. He was relieved to know we still had them. Will they see further use in the future!

These thoughts came to mind when I looked at the chalk scribbles and drawings that a group of five and six year olds had made on a school playground. The busy colours and expressive lines told of the fun the children had experienced doing something as simple as chalking on the ground. They seemed to have gone over the existing word "GAMES", and then branched out wherever their fancy took them. Isn't it the case that the simplest toys and games, those requiring the child's active engagement and imagination - like wooden bricks and coloured chalks - are invariably the best and have the longest life?

When I took this photograph some of the youngsters were still busy with their chalks, and the shadow of one child's arm intruded into the image. This shadow makes the shot. It is like the outstretched hand of the circus ring-master inviting the audience's applause for the skill of his artistes!
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen