|Rochester, New York, Museum of Play|
Spending time with grandchildren brings out the playful side of grandparents. Since Thursday we've enjoyed being young again with our daughter and three New York grand-ones while their father is presenting at a medical conference in Tokyo.
I marvel at how creative our four -year old twins and their 11-year-old big brother are in their frequent "let's pretend" times with each other, entertaining themselves, and often us, for hours on end.
To add to our fun we visited the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester yesterday, a paradise experience for the young and young at heart. Our first stop was the Butterfly House, with 800-900 beautiful butterflies to enjoy from all over the world (see the uniquely shaped building to the right in the photo above). Another highlight was the Museum's unique Toy Hall of Fame.
Each year the a toy or toys is added to this exhibit. Choices are based on playthings that have been widely recognized as fostering learning, creativity and discovery, and that have remained popular over time. The 2015 selections included the puppet, Super Soakers and the Twister.
In the past the toy or toys of the year have included the bicycle, the kite, Crayola crayons, marbles and skateboards. The 2005 Hall of Fame winner was the cardboard box, an all-purpose, low cost option for active and creative play.
The 2008 entry was even more basic, the lowly stick. Christopher Bensch, curator of collections at the museum, defended that choice with, “It’s very open-ended, all-natural, the perfect price (and) there aren’t any rules for its use. It can be a wild west horse, a medieval knight’s sword, a boat on a stream or a slingshot with a rubber band... No snowman is complete without a couple of stick arms, and every campfire needs a stick for toasting marshmallows.”
How true. Without batteries or any form of gadgetry, its use is limited only by children’s imaginations, and I have seen it serving as a magic wand, a fishing rod or a rod in the hand of a Moses grandly parting the Red Sea.
Oh to be young again.