We've been really into games lately. Sometimes the kids play things on their own, sometimes with each other or with friends, sometimes with us on a family game night.
It occured to me that if you did nothing but just play games all day, you could probably learn just about everything you needed to know. There are games for logic and deductive reasoning (Mastermind, Rush Hour, and Clue are big hits here, and little Miss A. doesn't go anywhere without her Sudoku Addict book of puzzles), games that emphasize math skills (one family game of Monopoly gives you addition through multiplication plus percentages and fractions), most video games require reading and puzzle solving, there are trivia games full of history and Pit for market trading, puzzles and Operation for small-muscle dexterity, and there are physical games like Simon Says, Mother May I, and dodgeball that work reflexes and mind-body connections.
The game I love to hear the most is when the kids, either with each other or with a group of friends, start playing what they call "The Imaginary Game", an ongoing storyline set in some place and time of fantasy. Sometimes they play it in the car or sitting on the couch, sometimes its a big group of kids roaming through the woods or fields or at a playground. It's always changing and ever-fascinating.
The value of play is highly underestimated in our society. The phrase "Child's Play" connotes something easy or trivial, yet it is anything but. Children learn by playing, but more importantly play brings their lives meaning and joy. Now excuse me, I think I hear Sudoku puzzle calling my name...