The April issue of Spirit, Southwest Airline’s in-flight magazine, shows a group of kids playing outside on its cover. That makes sense with spring right around the corner. Surprisingly, though, the associated article inside discusses why adults should play more. The article’s opening example is illustrative:
Unbox a toy for a toddler and as often as not, the child will play with the box instead of the toy!
Why? Because the box is more fun! It can be anything – a hat, a fort, a cup, a ship. On the other hand, modern toys are typically activity specific, which allows for little imaginative input by its recipient.
This doesn’t mean toys are bad. It means boxes are good! Specifically, Jay Heinrich, author of the “It’s Called Play” article noted above, cites the following lessons we can learn from playing with the box;
- Fancy toys, programmed activities, and “enrichment” don’t hold a candle to a kid’s own improvising.
- Unsupervised activity of the kind that terrifies modern, safety-obsessed parents can be good for developing brains and bodies.
- Outdoor trumps indoors, fitness-wise.
- Adults can benefit from the same sort of pointless, stupid activity [as playing with a box].