simple play + several books to inspire it


simple_play-1simple_play-7simple_play-6The girls received beautiful play scarves from Shovava last week, and the timing could not have been better as it has rained almost every day of the last two weeks. We’ve had almost 30″ of rain since January. The boys keep joking that they almost played soccer this season–since they’ve had more games and practices canceled than they’ve actually played at this point. A soul-crushing reality for 10 and 11 year olds.

The kids have gone out to play in the rain several times lately, although I suppose they only want to be cold and wet for so long before they return to the porch or the indoors again. After our more formal studies are finished, our time indoors generally drifts toward art-work or books or various sorts of indoor play. The boys will sometimes play basketball in their room or build Legos across the floor. The girls tend more toward pretend play, sometimes mimicking everyday life like making food or taking care of babies, and other times living in stories as animals or fairies or queens.  The scarves have added a fresh flavor for the girls’ daily pretend play. Roza, the owner/deisigner of the Australian-based shop, draws and paints the wing designs by hand before screen-printing, and the light and soft material gives the wings such presence and flight during play. This week they have worn them as wings and head wraps and neck scarves in almost every variety of role. It’s so amazing what a piece of cloth can inspire, yes?


My children play at home in quite creative, simple ways. I do allow them a bit of daily screen time, usually toward the dinner hour, and I’m not entirely rigid on this topic. Yet I learn so much about them during their play, whether the characters they become or the buildings they create. They also learn much about themselves, their dreams, their ingenuity. When they speak the word bored, I kindly remind them that boredom is their responsibility to resolve, but I usually offer them a few options to get their brains ticking. Our culture is full of passive entertainment with screens–and our family certainly enjoys that part, too–but as a parent, I want my children to begin learning now how to take responsibility for the way they live, even in small ways and at young ages. Life is something we choose, something we create daily. As adults, we choose daily how we spend our limited resources of time and money, and sometimes it requires great creativity and problem solving. These habits and lessons begin in our children in quite small, seemingly unimportant ways. Giving them space and time to create and play on their own seems small and trivial. However, it is teaching important skills necessary in adulthood, such as problem solving and decision-making, even lessons in compassion, empathy, and change of perspective.



We love reading books around here. And I particularly love books that celebrate imagination and ingenuity. Here’s a few of our favorites. If you have a few of your own to recommend, I would love to know so we can find them on our next library trip. Wink.





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  1. My kids LOVE bear hunt!! They play it all the time. and sometimes they do the whole book with other animals: alligator hunt, dinosaur hunt, etc. // love the idea of beautiful scarves to inspire fresh pretend play // i swap out toys occasionally, but haven’t thought to swap out their pretend play & dress-up stuff. Definitely going to try that! // Thanks for the book list!

  2. Pingback: the hidden gift of boredom - cloistered away

  3. First of all, I love your blog and style. You take beautiful pictures that really capture the moment. I checked out some of your recommendations for books from my library. I am on a look out for beautiful, detailed illustrated books/journals of nature (like plants, insects, and animals). Do you have any recommendations?

    1. Author

      You’re so kind, Teresa. Thank you. Our favorite picture books about nature and animals right now are Animalium and Nature Anatomy. I have Farm Anatomy in my Amazon cart for the future. Are those the sort of books you mean? Both are so well done, and very detailed without being overwhelming.

    1. Author

      Of course I’m not surprised that our books would overlap! ;) Let me know if you stumble upon another treasure we might enjoy. Thank you, Danielle. x

  4. I do love how books provide the spark for imaginative play in my children. My daughter especially enjoyed Indian Captive by Lois Lenski, and the Little Britches series by Ralph Moody have been family favorites for years. Swallows and Amazons is another chapter book that lends itself well to pretend play.
    Thanks for the book suggestions, we completely agree that keeping screen time to a minimum is so beneficial.

    1. Author

      I bought Little Britches several years ago to read the series aloud. None of my children seemed very interested so we changed. I need to give it a try again now that they’re a bit older. I’m definitely going to look into the other recommendations. Thank you, Jenn!

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