Kids and their toys are a magic that we as adults forget as we grow older. WE look at children and thing they must have the best of the best. We want to give our kids everything under the sun. This leads to us buying every advertised “cool” toy that is out there. If we as a society keep doing this we will financially kill ourselves, and destroy the ability for imagination. With t hat said, why not let kids of all ages, not just the small ones, any kids, make their own toys?
Go out and buy a small bag of rolly eyes, small wheels, and pipe cleaners. Then go to a dollar store and get a few tubes of super glue. All of these can be bought at your local craft store and you will have spent a total of maybe $3 with tax. Then explain to your “kids” that they are allowed to bring as many people as they like, but you are all sticking together to do this. Take down a list of who they want to bring, if anyone, and make the arrangements with the other parents and spouses (depending on how old the “kids” are).
Grab your bags of stuff and the glue, and take everyone to a park. Not a park where there’s a slide and all that nonsense, a park where there are trees, leaves, sticks, real nature. Define a meeting place and tell everyone that we are going to be making toys. Any kind of toys they want to make, they will be able to make. What you’re going to use is the nature of the park. So their job is to gather sticks, leaves, grass, moss, anything they find that can be used to make something with. Give them a time frame, like 15-20 minutes to meet back. You’re not exempt from this, you have to do this too.
When everyone returns with their gobs of items, have them place them all together on a table or in a pile on the grass. Dump out your bags and say, we have eyes, pipe cleaners, for arms or whatever you want, wheels, and glue. They will look at you like you’re weird this is OK. Sit down, pick up a stick, open the pipe cleaners and take one out, and glue a pipe cleaner horizontally on the vertical stick. Then put two eyes on the stick. Show it to everyone.
Explain that there is no right or wrong, and you can make anything you want. But you must make something. Sit down and start something else, or continue working on your little person. Everyone will start sorting through the stuff, and slowly they will all get into it. Remind them, each time you hear “that’s not right” or “you can’t do that”, that there is no wrong or right.
You find sculptures, and cars, and princesses, and everything that can come out of their hands. I’ve watched teen agers do this, complain about it the whole way, and make something that they treasure to such a degree they devote 50 pictures on myspace.com to it. As soon as people are allowed to be creative, they will; we’ve just forgotten how.