Play makes the World the World makes Play

This space is to gather people's experience of making something for children to play with and in. 

It is hoped that the collection of many anecdotal personal descriptions will bring increasing awareness of the nature and value of such creative experiences in the adult relationship with children's play. 

Please contribute by writing about how it is for you to create something or a space for a child to play with.

What is it like to build/sew/draw/or otherwise make something for a child to play with?

What is it like to create a playful space? 

What are the sensations as you make it and what is it like to give it and see it being played with? 

What is in your mind and heart as you create for a child?

Please describe your experiences honestly and as completely as you can. There is no need to embellish with theoretical perspective or to beautify or sanitise your description of your experience. 

Please email your description to me and I will share it here. Please tell me the name that you wish to appear with your description. 


  1. In the evenings I tidy up the toys and as I touch them I remember the playing that my little girl did, often I stroke the dolls and teddies as I put them to bed, sometimes we do the tidying together, but even afterwards I often make a little scene with the bricks or animals so there is something of wonder for the morning, this feels to me like a kind of way of communicating to her that I value her toys and her play, but I’m always very careful not to disturb what she has left purposefully because that is most important.  - Sophie                                                
  2. I carve wooden animals for children to play with, so for me its about choosing or coming by pieces of wood and listening to the story that each might tell about what kind of animal it wants to be. Then I follow the grain, the colour, the movement, the knots, perhaps leaving a piece of bark to emphasise a nose or hoof. The playing of the animal starts as i carve it really, in movement, and then if i so happen to have the chance to see a child pick one up and have a little story or talk with it, thats great, sometimes i see that the animal has the same feel for the child as it did for me, sometimes the child starts to add to its character straight away. - Peter                                                                                                                     
  3. Making toys for my children, for me is an extension of nurturing. I express my love in a physical form through the toys I make. The time I spend, the care I take is done out of love, and I’m sure my babies feel that. The children show their gratitude and love by playing with the toys, year after year; they demonstrate that what I bring to them has worth.
    I always have some ideas swimming round in my head for the next festival or seasonal table scene or just for fun. I enjoy every stage of the planning, sourcing materials and making of a new item. I picture their reactions and I get excited. For a week or so before a new project is finished, I find stories, poems or songs related to the new toy and secretly revel in the anticipation of giving. I sometimes wonder who get more out of it, them or me. - Catherine                                          
  4. To say I create a play space would be imprecise, in my work it is more a case of supporting children and young people to make and own their play environment and sometimes the bare bones of the environments are not so special initially. What I have to do is pay attention to what they are doing/building/playing/making and respond when they ask me for help. When it comes to clear up and set up I keep in mind the feeling of what has been going on in the space and try and respect it, in what I put away and what I leave (when I can) and in what other opportunities I offer by what I lay out the next day. Sometimes its all very easily obvious, sometimes its more subtle, sometimes I feel like I’ve responded right, sometimes it seems I mess it up. - Greg                                                                                        
  5. Creating a playful space is an act of creation in itself, often assembling a
    variety of items to make something 'more' or offering the opportunity for
    something 'more'. I have sewn kites, drawn face paints and built dens and
    adventure playgrounds. Only drawing face masks is an act of child direction,
    the rest are me doing something that I think will produce more. I enjoyed
    sewing, drawing and building as a young person and so these skills have
    travelled with me into adulthood (along with others that I have accumulated
    such as storytelling, informal acting, humour and occasional singing). When
    creating something I try to make it 'work' so that the child can play with
    the artefact e.g. kites that do not fly or dens that fall down allow for
    problem solving but not so much for playful interaction. 

    When making something I enjoy the act of creation and problem solving in the
    moment; I do it because I like it. I have no idea or expectation of what the
    child will do with it. Occasionally I have been sad if a kite lasts only 5
    mins but often they last quite a bit longer, and if they do break quickly
    then I can show the child how to repair them. I have made kites and dens and
    structures with children and then it is often a co-production, with me being
    guided by them and offering my skills and experience where practical.

    When creating for children my aim/hope is that it will be used - how does
    not matter. All the artefacts can lead to something else, kites to flying
    and running outside, face paints to roles and stories, dens and structures
    to a myriad things. My hope is that children find something satisfying and
    pleasurable in the artefact. If I have the opportunity I will react to their feedback and improve it where time and resources allow. -

  6. To create a new environment is the start of a new world, the offer of imagination. The offer of my imagination opens up to those around me not just young people when affecting a play space. 

    Although trying to be as open minded as possible I cannot help but put my stamp on the space, using those parts that mean most to me and what I feel will offer new opportunities to the children.

    The creation of a space is a part that looks for inspiration that is built on past experiences, personally I look for loose parts that may be changed in many directions but yet have such a simple take to them.

    I find myself immersed within my own play whilst building a space and getting frustrated when another adult changes it before I have seen the children’s reaction.

    It is fun but yet challenging to create something new each session although this is not always needed for a space that is inviting and comfortable enough for children to freely experience and find themselves.

    Play spaces are everywhere and children play with and wherever. Play is magical! 
  7. Every time I pack a box, fill a bag, collect some scrap or acquire a donation for play, I think of the possibilities. What can I do with it? What can the children do with it? Can we transform it, can we throw it, can we make it into something else? What does it look like? How heavy is it? And can little hands hold it properly? Is it rough, is it smooth, is it shiney, is it soft?

    If I look at that object and 3 ideas pop into my brain about what to use it for, I can almost guarantee that the children would find at least 10 uses for it. Their play has no rules, rhyme or reason. My imagination is restricted by my knowledge of the world, but a child's imagination in play has no restrictions. Knowing that I'm supplying something that will feed that imagination, gets me really excited. I have no idea what the children will do with the stuff I give them, but whatever it is, it'll be unexpected. And awesome. - Suzanna                                                           
  8. My making things began as a child.  It was an integral part of who I was and was to become.  I was encouraged to fabricate the things of my imagination by my parents.

    I lived in a rural setting, often playing by myself, inspired by my own imagination. Little houses of mud, stone and sticks,  ballerina’s from my Grandmother’ fushia flowers, hats from the grandly huge Dalhia’s all in a row in the garden. Fairies amongst the Forget-me-nots and Violets, waterdogs and frogs in the nearby creek with white sand and maiden hair fern, these were my playmates.  My imagination was nurtured by my natural environment and parents who left the door wide open to the land of “make and do”.  Having never felt a limitation in this land of creativity, my great love for it was the focus of my life.

    When I had my own child, I wished to share my most precious experiences. I made toys, toy boxes, artwork, clothes, kites, carts, all in the manner of that I hoped would light the fires of the heart to  the possibilities  of creativity and imagination. This was my vision of all that was good and beautiful and happy.  This is where I found these essential parts of life.  The sharing of this passion was always as important as the art itself.  As R. Tagore says in one of his poems “All that is not given is lost....”  and in this way, passing the torch of magical play to others, not just children, but all who are wanting, became as important as the work itself.

    The memories of my own creative play and the magic and joy it brought are often the spring board for new creations, as well as the world of nature herself. In making the whimsical houses for gnomes, fairies and wee folk, my concept often is that the little structure comes together as if  it “grew that way”, that the materials wax together to become a living thing in themselves, the habitat of magical thoughts and visions, nurturing inspiration and joyfulness in children that play with them.

    Making these things for children is the greastest gift I can give  They are a gift of love and imagination, of the natural materials themselves as well as object that is formed from them.  In this way, the circle becomes complete.  This nurturing of the sense of creativity and imagination helps us through out the journey of life. - Lucinda Macy