Today, almost all the games children want and patronize are digital. Children spend a lot of time with their digital devices (e.g. tablets, smartphones, and personal computers), play some digital games, and find little time doing the things we, the older people, used to love when we were kids – actual creative play — patintero, hide and seek, takraw, etc.
Unfortunately, this trend poses serious risks or disservice to children.
According to studies, creative play plays a very significant role in a child’s development. Inversely, most digital games and few physical toys proves detrimental to a child’s cognitive development.
Importance of Creative Play
What are plays we consider creative play? Are digital games non-creative forms of play?
When children engage in creative play, they make up the rules rather than adults. Not only are they are free to use their imaginations, create stories, act out scenes or invent a new game, but this unstructured, self-directed play encourages mental development and allows a child to express his emotions. According to Today’s Parent, children need at least 45 minutes of creative play every day, so create an environment that encourages them to use their imaginations.
Creative play involves providing open-ended toys or supplies, meaning they don’t need instructions or even adult demonstration, according to Today’s Parent. Building blocks are classic examples of open-ended toys, and they give children the opportunity to use their imagination to build whatever they want. Offer crayons, markers, paper and other art supplies; dress-up clothes, props and mirrors for dramatic play; hand-held musical instruments such as shakers, tambourines or drums; and imagination toys, such as dolls, stuffed animals or molding clay. Supervise as needed, but keep interventions to a minimum so kids feel free to express themselves.
Benefits of Creative Play
According to PBS.org, creative play is important because it enhances abilities, including problem-solving, critical and abstract thinking, and verbal and social skills. For example, through playing with blocks, children are challenged to handle issues such as balance and shape, so they have to use thinking and problem-solving skills to figure out how to build a tower, for instance, without it falling over. Creating a work of visual art or a musical composition could help relieve stress by establishing an emotional outlet. Creative play with other children encourages the development of social skills by urging children to take their peers’ ideas and feelings into account.
Creative play boosts creativity. And creativity is vital for a child’s cognitive development. There are four components of creativity as described by Psychologist Ellis P. Torrance: fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration.
- Fluency is the ability to produce a number of different ideas. To promote fluency provide children with plenty of opportunities that stimulate the thought process. Ask open ended questions and questions that ask the child’s opinion. Encourage the child to explore and experiment and this will enhance cognitive growth.
- Flexibility is the ability to approach different situations and develop solutions from a number of different perspectives. Foster flexibility by allowing plenty of opportunities to explore and experiment. Allowing children to experiment and make mistakes unleashes their creative thinking and a sense of wonder. They feel free to imagine, invent, create, and try out new ways to do things. Asking questions during an activity or when a problem arises such as “how is another way we could do this or solve it?” encourages children to think outside of the box.
- Originality is the ability to have a new or novel idea. To promote originality, provide a variety of supplies and experiences in which children can use their imagination and create. By painting or constructing something out of playdough they are creating something out of nothing.
- Elaboration is the ability to extend ideas. Give children new ways of doing old ideas and activities. For instance, providing pipe cleaner and other items to stick into play dough would allow children to elaborate in their play.
The Cool, Creative, and Exciting Games of the 90s
The traditional Filipino games are truly unique, awesome, and lucrative for the Filipino kids, especially in the olden days. These traditional Filipino games have a different appeal to creative imagination. They were fun. They were daunting. But nonetheless, fun.
Unfortunately, the games kids from my generation used to play, seems to be dying out today. The digital age has reshaped even play.
Patintero is a popular game among the active young people. This game is said to be most popular in the province of Bulacan in the Philippines.
The game is played by two teams with at least 3 individuals (although it is seldom played with just that number of members per team). Although for most occasions, this is played by teams with at least 10 members. The game will take place in a rectangular matrix with at least two quadrants (or as many as 6 quadrants depending on the number of members in the team).
For a team to win, a member of any team must successfully cross-over the quadrants, and return to where he or she entered without getting caught or touched by the members of the opposing team who are waiting at and traversing the quadrant’s lines.
The game is usually commenced with a coin toss to determine which team attempts a cross-over first.