November 19th is National Day of Play, a day created to celebrate open-ended play by inspiring children of all ages to use their most powerful tool: their imagination. But open-ended play doesn’t just help with developing a chlid’s imagination; it also plays an important role in the development of social and cognitive skills, emotional abilities, and abstract thinking. Sponsored by Playmobil, the first annual National Day of Play was observed in 2010 with events at select retailers across the country. On this special Saturday each November children and adults are invited to take part in hands-on play time by exploring the many different worlds offered by Playmobil’s iconic toys.
When I was a little kid I used to love going over to my cousins’ house. We always had a good time playing together and they had the most amazing collection of Playmobil toys I had ever laid eyes on. There were Playmobil cowboys and indians with guns and bows and arrows. There was a barn, dogs, horses, and a pig. There were even fences for the barn, dogs, horses, and pig! We would spend hours playing, making up stories and creating suspenseful shoot-outs, complete with imaginary blood. We would rip loved ones from each others’ plastic Playmobil arms just to orchestrate dramatic reunions after the figurines had proved themselves able to withstand traumatic trials and tribulations. We were the creators of our own Playmobil universe…and it was fun.
In fact, it was so much fun that, years later, I bought several Playmobil sets and kept them in the house for my niece and nephews to play with when they came to visit. The best set I had (and definitely the one the kids found most interesting) was a giant pirate ship that had working canons built into the side. I also purchased a little pirate island and a couple more canons and the kids used to have a great time shooting them at each other. I spent a lot of time telling them not to aim for each others’ faces and searching for lost canonballs under the couch. Eventually the kids moved halfway across the country and my ex and I sent the toys with them. I haven’t seen my former niece and nephews in many, many years but I like to imagine that they got some good hours of play from those toys.