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The Stuff of Childhood

Posted by: Rhonda January 21, 2014

Jennifer Birckmayer, an advocate for children for over 40 years and a retired Cornell professor, shared this story with us about the necessity of open-ended playthings for children:

Back in the days when I had to create a lot of my own equipment for my childcare center, I was particularly proud of a kitchen area I fashioned once out of some sturdy cardboard boxes.  As the children entered the room the ‘stove-top’ box immediately drew the attention of two-year-old Tommy—however, not at all in the way I had intended.  Tommy promptly pushed off all the pots and spoons I had carefully set out on top and heaved the box over.  I watched as he then picked up all the discarded dishes from the floor and put them into the upturned box.  Then he began to loudly and intensely shake the box.  Fascinated and somewhat offended by the demolition of my kitchen area I finally intervened: 'Tommy, what are you doing?'  The two-year old grinned proudly and lisped, ‘Me dith wather!’”

Kids are incessantly unpredictable and need playthings that are equally versatile for the times when what they need is not a stove but a dish washer! For time-tested advice on choosing appropriate playthings for children, request your free copy of The Stuff of Childhood.