The Golden Age of Creative Play

The Golden Age of Creative Play

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By Dr. Steven Watson, CEO and Founder, ChildsPlay International

Kids’ imagination let them absorb the universe by playing.

When I read the headline in the New York Times: A Genius Cartoonist Believes Childsplay Is Anything But FrivolousI knew I had found a new ally in Lynda Barry. She is a fascinating mix—a comic strip artist in the alternative press, a graphic novelist, an associate professor of interdisciplinary creativity and a winner of the MacArthur Award.

How to Think about Children’s Play

In the Q&A with New York Times writer David Marchese, Barry rephrases how one could think of child’s play:

“Adults think that kids playing is some nothing thing,” she says. “But play is a different state of mind, and it can help us do so many things if we just allow ourselves to get back to it.”

In two sentences she captured the spirit of Childsplay International!

Lynda Barry a famous author smiling while reading a book


Lynda Barry at a booksigning.

In education, it used to be that when people mentioned “getting back” it was automatically followed by the phrase “to the basics”. That was the idea, that education was built on the basics of reading and writing and arithmetic, there was even a song that’s forever stuck in my mind:

'Reading and writing' and rithmetic
Taught to the tune of the hickory stick

The Importance of Creative Play in Childhood Development

For children the “real” basics are play. Lynda Barry nails it—the line between learning and playing is a very thin one. Kids absorb the universe by playing. Their bodies learn what they can do in their prime, they absorb experience through the skin. Figuring out how to play with other kids teaches more than any course in social studies. 

The ability to imagine hits its stride in childhood. Howard Gardner, the renowned guru of multiple intelligences, estimates that the Golden Age of Creativity happens from five to seven years. Not long after children enter a different mindset, when adults say “stop playing now and do your homework!”   Imagination begins to be judged, and so-called “reality” wins out over fantasy every time. 


CPI’s Contribution to the Golden Age of Creative Play

Childsplay International aims to empower and educate children through creative and deep play. By providing children with the tools and materials they need to explore their imaginations, Childsplay International helps lay the foundation for healthy development. Play not only lays the groundwork for growth, but also provides a rich inner world of imagination that can be returned to throughout life.

Child’s Play International: Promoting Creative Play 

At Child’s Play International, we believe in the power of creative play to empower and educate children. We are dedicated to creating opportunities for kids to engage in creative play, whether it’s through our programs or through partnerships with schools and community organizations. By promoting creative play, we aim to foster a lifelong love of learning, creativity, and exploration in every child.

Children are naturally creative and imaginative, and it is important that we encourage and nurture this aspect of their development. Creative play can help children develop problem-solving skills, critical thinking, and social skills. By providing a safe space for kids to explore their imagination, we empower and educate children, giving them the tools they need to navigate the world around them.

Celebrating to Golden Age of Play

Childsplay International CPI attempts to give the encouragement, the platform, and the basic materials to expand and CELEBRATE this period. Play lays the groundwork for development—and it also provides the riches inner imaginative world that can be retained throughout adult life. It’s a different state of mind.

In The New York Times, Lynda Barry points out that a late middle-aged man who usually seems emotionally buttoned-up and inexpressive becomes an entirely different person if you hand him his 8-month-old grandson:

 “That man will dance, sing, tell stories. We still all can communicate that way. But there’s such profound amnesia about what kids are actually doing. There’s total amnesia of the experience of deep play. When you’re an adult watching a kid playing with a little toy, you just think that kid’s doing that and there’s nothing else to it. But from the kid’s perspective, that toy is playing with them. It’s interactive.”

It’s So Magic

Back to basics! Yes, that’s fine. But remember: the real basics are play.  Lynda Barry’s newly published anthology of comic strips about children growing up, has the perfect title: “It’s So Magic”.

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