What We Learn From Play

October 17, 2007 at 7:32 pm 29 comments

When I was growing up we played outside.  If we weren’t charging around on our bikes, we were hurtling down busy streets on our roller skates or doing shooting stars off the monkey bars at the playground.  From sun up until the street lights came on, we were expected to be outside acting like law abiding hooligans.  It took no more than an interesting branch and a discarded bucket to jump start any number of games.  We climbed trees (and fell out), we took daring risks on our skateboards and bicycles (and broke things), and yet most of us survived childhood.  If you were born any time before 1990, you probably experienced most of these same things. 

What was important about this kind of play was that we were fit, imaginative, and we learned to conquer fear.  Skills we carried into our adult lives.  We built self-esteem by being the best double-dutcher or the guy who could knock all the bottles off the stump with his BB gun. 

When we went to war with Iraq, my first thought was “our kids aren’t prepared for war.”  I know the young men going to Iraq from my community.  They’ve spent their youth on video games and MTv.  This is a small community that keeps their kids in organized sports or dance lessons from pre-school until they graduate.  I understand their need to keep their kids safe, the world is not the innocent place it was when I was a kid.  There’s more traffic, more vice, more people lacking a foundation of morality and fair play.  I have nothing against video games and MTv.  But I fear the lessons learned on a sandlot, that provide a firm foundation for strong adults and soldiers,  are being forgotten just when we need them.  I think we need to balance the benefits of new technology with time tested, hands on play for our kids. 

Just as I was thinking about these kinds of things, I came across this book:  daring-book-for-boys.jpgThe Dangerous Book for Boys by Conn and Hal Iggulden.  It’s not the kind of book you hand to your son or grandson at first  and say “here ya go, have a blast!”  It’s densely written, packed with diagrams and charts for everything from How to Build a Go Cart to Spies, Codes and Ciphers.  Five knots every man needs to know how to make.  How to make secret ink, how to build a tree house, a sampling of Shakespeare, what to do with a needle and thread, how to make the perfect paper airplane…. life’s little essentials.  You’ll have to do the projects with them at first, but I bet they’ll catch on quick. 

I have girls, and while building a go cart is just as much fun for girls as boys, I was happy to see that on October 30th, The Daring Book for Girlsdaring-book-for-girls.jpg by Andrea Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz will be released.  According to pre-release promotion it has instructions for secret note–passing skills, science projects, friendship bracelets, double dutch, cats cradle, the perfect cartwheel and the eternal mystery of what boys are thinking.

Because I used pictures from Amazon, I feel I need to add here that I don’t get paid to promote books.  I don’t get paid to promote Amazon.  I won’t ever share with you a book I wouldn’t own.  But I do sometimes buy books at Amazon and these two will definately be on my bookshelf. 

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Entry filed under: Books, kids.

Influenced By: What Love Looks Like

29 Comments Add your own

  • 1. J.  |  October 17, 2007 at 7:40 pm

    I let my girl have her TV time, or computer time, or whatever … but sooner or later I ALWAYS boot her ass out the door. She’s either outside, or doing something productive.
    It shows. Really. She’s a happy, imaginative, healthy & fit kid.
    Thank goodness! Heh …

    Reply
  • 2. Absolute Vanilla... (& Atyllah)  |  October 17, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Oh I’m so glad they’ve brought out a Daring Book for Girls – I was rather worried when the first book only targeted boys. And yes, oh yes, would that our children spent more time outdoors. My imaginative life was given birth to outdoors playing make up games sometimes with real friends sometimes with imaginary friends. I reckon it’s what fueled my writer’s imagination!

    Reply
  • 3. katcampbell  |  October 17, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    Jan – Thank goodness for common sense like yours! No reason not to take advantage of technology, but like everything else that’s good for a person, balance is necessary.

    AV – I agree with you. The stories I write all have their roots in something I did or imagined back in those childhood days.

    Reply
  • 4. black_mamba  |  October 17, 2007 at 10:04 pm

    Is this gonna Kill You? No i Dont Think so !

    Reply
  • 5. Jamaican Dawta  |  October 17, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    Another thought-provoking post.

    I would have loved to have had the second book when I was growing up.

    Reply
  • 6. bobciz  |  October 17, 2007 at 11:23 pm

    It’s a shame that boys need a book nowadays to teach them the things that experience should teach them. Vicarious living through video games and TV can only teach them how to play video games and vacuously watch the tube. Damn, I’m glad I grew up being a real boy way back when.

    Reply
  • 7. katcampbell  |  October 18, 2007 at 2:20 am

    JD – Thank you. I’m looking forward to seeing it, I’m sure there are tons of things in it I’ve completely forgotten about.

    Bob – We were lucky to grow up when we did. Its a shame they need a book, but without fathers, older brothers or neighbor kids to show them the ropes, hopefully this book will spur them into going to the garage and trying out things themselves.

    Reply
  • 8. QuillDancer  |  October 18, 2007 at 8:17 am

    As you know I now teach preschool. For a half hour every day our kids are loosed on the jungle gym. BEfore the end of the year I expect they will have dismantled it.

    Reply
  • 9. katcampbell  |  October 18, 2007 at 8:47 am

    Quilly – LOL, come on those little darlings?

    Reply
  • 10. nessa  |  October 18, 2007 at 3:23 pm

    I am getting me both of those. They look like fun.

    One advantage of being a poor single mother for my daughter was that we had to do things that were free or cheap. Because of that she got to do those things you mentioned and she is way more self sufficient than her contemporaries.

    Reply
  • 11. katcampbell  |  October 18, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Nessa – My kids too. They were all born in the 80’s and with 5 of them, outside was where they needed to go so I could bring order to the chaos inside.

    Reply
  • 12. Linda  |  October 18, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    I think that kids today really miss out on the beauty of the outdoors My climbing tree was probably my favorite place to hide out. My parents could not climb the tree so if I was sad and needed time to myself it was the perfect place to escape. I think it is really sad that you can drive down the street in the middle of sumer and not see one kid outside. We wonder why kids health is at a crisis.

    My kids love to be outside. We live in a townhouse and so the kids hang out on each others porches and play outside until dark or later. It is great for me, too, because then I get some adult interaction. Nicholas loves to play in the dirt or much and likes to pull my neighbors flowers.

    Parents are so busy these days that it is hard for them to show their kids this sort of stuff. I am not saying they are wrong, just that they are busy. Maybe these books that you mentioned will be a help!

    Reply
  • 13. smileymamaT  |  October 19, 2007 at 6:56 am

    I must get both books. I have 3 feisty girls and not one the same. On the rare occastional we go get happy meals, the teen clerk says to them, Girl Toys? and they give him the evil eye…they say (point to littlest sister) SHE wants the Polly Pocket. WE want the CARS! 🙂 I think they’d love and devour both books equally.

    Reply
  • 14. Dave M  |  October 19, 2007 at 11:09 am

    Its a great shame that kids today spend so much time indoors. How much of it is the parents fault though. It’s an easy option to always let them play computer games etc. If children are taken out and shown the beauty of nature and the countryside they usually enjoy it. They will still play computer games but then after a bit of exercise. Interesting fact published in the paper the other day…..in about 15years 50% of our population will be obese. As a friend used to say “you should earn your food and beer”.

    Reply
  • 15. Delmonti (Dave)  |  October 19, 2007 at 2:52 pm

    bought!

    Reply
  • 16. katcampbell  |  October 19, 2007 at 3:34 pm

    Linda – So nice to see you! Its definately harder to give kids “build” time from an apartment or townhouse, but worth the effort in the long run I bet. Bravo for your efforts!

    Dave M – I love that quote! 50% obesity, thats a scary statistic.

    Dave – Yahoo! I can’t wait until you start posting the results of your and Emily’s projects.

    Reply
  • 17. Janet  |  October 20, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    I think I’d have been more interested in the boy’s book when I was a kid. Why not have a book that’s not gender-specific?

    Reply
  • 18. guyana-gyal  |  October 22, 2007 at 1:19 am

    Bless my siblings, though they now all live overseas, they let their children run outdoors…though they do have to keep an eye on them…not like when we were growing up, running wild and free in the country village and in town when we moved.

    Reply
  • 19. janwilliams  |  October 22, 2007 at 2:04 am

    I really enjoyed your book reviews. When I was little I spent my whole summer days on roller skates from the time I finished breakfast until darkness. My grandchildren seem to want to spend that much time playing video games. Sometimes I feel like the evil grinch trying to get them to live life.

    Reply
  • 20. hayden  |  October 22, 2007 at 8:31 am

    This has been a major pet peeve of mine – and the guarding goes hand in hand with the over scheduling. Without a little boredom now and then, where is the leisure to dream?

    I heard abt the book for boys – am delighted to hear that there is one coming out for girls, too.

    (I used to ride the yearling steers at my girlfriends’ house when I was 7 & 8. It was scary – they didn’t buck, but they didn’t want us up there and would take off running – or try to rub us off on a fence or tree. You had to be quick if you didn’t want to get all scraped up! This was all absolutely forbidden, of course. No one mentioned that we might get hurt – they just didn’t want us “running all of the meat off of them”)

    Reply
  • 21. puresunshine  |  October 22, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Both these titles seem very interesting. I would love to read the book for girls and the one for boys does seem very adventurous! U have a very neat blog and i loved reading Try Before I Die and 100 things. 🙂

    Reply
  • 22. stacy  |  October 22, 2007 at 7:50 pm

    Those books sound like fun, but isn’t it a shame we have to teach kids how to use their imaginations and play? When my kids were younger I always made them spend at least part of the day outside, but it was never like when we were kids. They had a hard time finding anyone else to play with because everyone else was inside or away at organized something or other.

    Reply
  • 23. John Linna  |  October 24, 2007 at 3:35 am

    They sound l;ike books the country needs. Perhaps I will get them for the grandchildren.

    Reply
  • 24. rel  |  October 24, 2007 at 6:26 am

    Kat
    I’m going to give those books as christmas presents; to my 40 y.o. daughter, my 35 year old son (and one each to his daughters,) and lastly to my 30 y.o. baby boy.
    I did howerver do many of those activities with my kids and hopefully they will carry on the traditions.
    That’s what it’s all about…..traditions….don’t ya think?
    The first two kids went to war like me and my dad and back infinatum. My third broke with tradition….I’m glad! Maybe if enough do it will star a tradition of peace. ok ok, I can hope can’t I?
    rel

    Reply
  • 25. colleen  |  October 24, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    I hope they have jump rope songs. We grew up jumping rope and playing hide and seek kind of games.

    Reply
  • 26. thecrazydotter  |  October 26, 2007 at 11:03 pm

    Hi, Reading this blog about growing up was really nice. It has made me rather nostalgic and I think I am going to go home and actually take out my albums and lose myself in the past! Ya, those were beautiful years:). Full of fun and laughter, and a lot of outdoors, something sadly missing now.

    Reply
  • 27. minx  |  October 28, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    We have forgotten to let our children take risks. The are wrapped in cotton wool and have almost become too precious for life!
    Reverse the trend – please!

    Reply
  • 28. Jon M  |  October 28, 2007 at 11:34 pm

    These books were runaway bestsellers last year in the UK. I’m all for kids taking sensible risks and being away from adults, that’s when they learn most!

    Reply
  • 29. shanae  |  February 10, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    i just love this darling book for girls book it teaches me alot and i mean it. i think this is the best book i have ever read i think all girls out there should purchuse this book.if you read this girls out there listen to me and buy this book its so great it will help with alot of stuff. and you will learn alot. i mean it

    love always the big fan of the darling book for girls.

    Shanae upson
    love ya girls
    xxx

    p.s beg your mum to get you this book or stop buying magizines and save up for this book i would.

    And i did!

    Reply

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