Another oldie-but-goodie. NPR did a fantastic series about the evolution and importance of play. The article I’ve linked to here is the first in the series. Eventually I plan to post them all into a right-nav bar for easy access. But start here and then explore for yourself; after all, the first story in the series (featured here) talks about the importance of imagination and self-exploration in play, and finding things out for yourself:
“…For most of human history, what children did when children played was engage in free-wheeling, imaginative play, elaborate narratives of pirates and princesses. Basically, they spent most of their time doing what looked like nothing much at all.
They improvised play, whether it was in the outdoors, the fields and the forests, or whether it was on a street-corner or somebody’s backyard. They improvised their own play. They regulated their play. They made up their own rules.
But Chudacoff argues once TV and toys began to supply children with ever-more-specific scripts and special props for their stories, the size of children’s imaginative space begins to shrink, and that’s not the only way that imagination comes under siege, according to Chudacoff.
In the second half of the 20th century, he says, parents were increasingly concerned about safety, which again affected play.”