In preparation of a Builder’s Play Workshop, Dr. Walter Drew sent my family a package. Inside

contained magical items: yarn, wooden sticks larger than a toothpick, styrofoam, pieces of

fabric, plastic cups, and more. In reality, most people would have discarded these items as

trash. However in this clear bag held the endless possibilities of a child’s imagination to build

wonders beyond our wildest dreams. 


My husband came home and said, “that is cool but how do you play with it”? I smiled, he hadn’t

seen the magic before. Like all things as adults, seeing is believing. I insisted he would just

“play”. Not totally understanding the concept, my husband smiled and nodded. 

I spread out the bag on the small table. Elijah was thrilled as he dug through everything! After

all, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. And then, like a magician rolling up his sleeves

for his first trick, Elijah began to create!


There was no prompt, no suggested structure to make, no instructions. Instead, I created an

open space for him to simply create whatever he desired without my boundaries or dictation.

This concept is a little frightening at times as a parent. The constant self dialogue and mom

guilt, “am I doing this right…am I doing enough” or the overload of new toys and activities. The

idea of independent play at times is overwhelming, yet incredibly simple. As I reflect on it, don’t

we do this too often as parents or grandparents? The constant need to control and provide

“more” may actually take away the magic of the moment and the simplicity of imagination.  

So, I held this space and I observed him. Within moments, I was smiling. 


A new favorite book of Elijah’s is Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. Elijah created truffula trees out of the

large wooden sticks and caped them off with brightly colored plastic. Then he had a feller

buncher to crop the trees down, similar to the Oncler’s creation. After he intricately weaved yarn

from one side of the room to the other. Then he placed a small stick in the middle for additional

support he informed me. 


It was amazing to observe his communication as he created. He took time to explain each item

in between his joyful hums and songs. Through his creation, you could witness what we were

learning about in our home. His language expressed happiness, joy, and momentary frustration

upon literally stumbling over blocks!


Play is an incredible form of communication and through play parents can understand their

children’s state of mind. This was an affordable fun activity providing space for Elijah to express

himself and create as he wanted. 



Alison Lauer, Executive Director

Florida Kiwanis Foundation

2024 Golf Tournament

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