Games We Used To Play

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In Praise of Free Play
Date: January 19 2012

This past November, I wrote a guest post for Jennifer Fink’s blog Blogging ‘Bout ‘Boys. Unfortunately, I forgot to share this with this site’s visitors!

This piece is about how much fun and joy can be had by children from simple things, such as cardboard boxes. We don’t have to spend a lot of money on our children to help them grow and develop through play. We just have to give them the opportunity.

Here is the post:

In Praise of Free Play

Is Child Boredom a Problem that Must Be Solved?
Date: October 26 2011

I was invited to write a guest post on the subject of play. I chose to write about boredom and how it isn’t necessarily a Bad Thing.

“Mom… I’m bored…” What parent hasn’t heard that complaint or a similar refrain at least a few times? Some parents may say, “My children are never bored; they always have something to do.” But is that necessarily a good thing? Does having your day scheduled with activities all day long sound like a good idea?

Read the rest over at

Let the Children Play - The Case Against Homework
Date: October 17 2011

By Alison Palkhivala

Most parents agree their children are far less likely to play the types of interactive, creative group games they played as children – so much so that nostalgia sites such as are all we have left to remind us of what childhood play used to be.

It’s easy to blame the change on video games, cable television, and a paucity of safe neighborhoods where children can run free. Undoubtedly, these all play a role. But have you ever considered the impact of homework?

United States-based research shows that the amount of time children spend doing...

Guest post over at Imperfect Mom
Date: October 11 2011

As part of this Games We Used to Play project, I'm offering to write guest posts for parenting blogs (and others that would be appropriate). The first blogger to take advantage of my offer was Jan Udlock who publishes Imperfect Mom.

My blog post is called Learning About Life Through Free Play.

The Importance of Recess
Date: October 03 2011

by Marijke Vroomen Durning 

The bell rings and, within moments, a flood of children is pouring into the schoolyard. It’s recess! It’s time to play, to walk, to run. It’s time to think of anything but academics. It’s time to get the ants out of your pants. This is a scenario repeated every day, every year, in schools across North America, but not in every school. Some schools have eliminated recess. Some other schools have kept recess in theory, but they control it very strictly for fear of lawsuits.

It may seem simple to those who made the decisions to limit or eliminate recess. After...

Free play does happen, just not as much in North America
Date: September 15 2011

by Marijke Vroomen Durning

It can't be said that we don't see children playing outside anymore, because we do. We see them at the playground, under the watchful supervision of a parent or babysitter. We see them on the sports field, where the coaches and some other parents are there to keep an eye on things. We see them in the schoolyards at recess, safely fenced off from the street. If we're lucky, we'll see children walking or cycling to school - but again, most often in the company of an adult. Children are rarely allowed to do anything by themselves anymore.

The biggest fear it seems that...

Play is universal
Date: September 14 2011

We know that children play all over the world - it's what they do. While some of the games we play in different countries are very similar, other games are unique to certain areas. Much of what may influence the games are the available space and props or tools, such as balls, sticks, and so on. Few of us ever get to see those games though.

Playworks published an interesting blog post, World Lessons from Children's Street Play, about a Dutch film maker who watched children playing and realized that this should be something to be shared with others. So now we can see what other children are...

Are we raising kids who have never failed?
Date: September 10 2011

by Marijke Vroomen Durning

Writing for and promoting free play is one thing – to get parents to allow their children to play freely is another thing altogether. The lack of free play among children is blamed on many things. We blame, among other issues, the fact that children are in daycare during the day rather than at home with a parent, the lack of space where children may go to play many of the outdoor games, and of course, the fear of allowing our children out of our sight. No longer does it seem safe to let our kids roam the neighbourhoods to find activities and playmates.

Parents have,...

Is Free Play Important?
Date: September 09 2011

by Marijke Vroomen Durning

Our society has changed so much that children often don't get the same opportunities to play outside in groups, playing games with their own rules and their own ways. They don't have adult supervision that helps break up fights, tells the children to play nice and fair.

In free play,  children have to figure this out on their own. What if you're playing hide and seek and one of the kids cheats? What do you do? What if the kid with the ball wants to leave because he doesn't feel he's getting enough respect? What if one half the group wants to play British Bulldog,...

Date: August 18 2011

An abandoned parking lot, a field of grass, an alley way, or the side walk – these all have something in common: they can bring out the best in a child’s imagination if they’re given the opportunity to play.

Long before the availability of computers and hand-held games, long before the plethora of television channels, and long before at-home movie theaters, we played outside, either alone or with friends. And no matter what type of childhood we had, from the happiest to the difficult, we all had something in common: the desire to play.

We didn’t need many tools to play our games. A stick of...