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Remember the games you used to play when you were a kid? Capture the Flag; Hopscotch; Four-Square; Hide-and-Seek; Duck, Duck, Goose!; Red Rover; Red Light, Green Light . . . Do you remember making jewelry and musical instruments from paper plates and macaroni, paper airplanes, forts in your living room, and obstacle courses in your backyard? One of the greatest gifts you can give your children is that good old-fashioned, wholesome kind of play. Not only is it still one of the main ways children develop mental, social, and physical skills, but it also forms the stuff of nostalgia---of good memories of a full and rich childhood. Despite the flashy bells and whistles of modern electronic toys and children's television programming and their appearance of advancement, they just can't compete---the best thing for kids is still the same stuff that you grew up with. Who grows up to cherish memories of hours spent at the computer, in front of the television, or with a talking electronic toy? It's memories of building couch-cushion forts with family or friends, camping out in the backyard . . . And weren't the best toys the ones you made yourself from stuff you found around the house and made "real" with your imagination back in the days before parents could buy their kids little plastic replicas that leave nothing at all to add or imagine? Unplugged Play is a treasure-trove of "oldies but goodies" that will help you give your child the best that childhood has to offer. (It makes a great gift for new parents, too!)
From the joy of smearing glue on paper to the screaming delight of a bubble-blowing relay, kids love to play. In fact, it's every kid's built-in tool for experiencing the world at large. A parent-friendly encyclopedia, UNPLUGGED PLAY ("A wonderful guide," says Daniel Goleman) offers hundreds and hundreds of battery-free, screen-free, chirp-and-beep-free games and fun variations that stretch the imagination, spark creativity, building strong bodies, and forge deep friendships...and keep kids busy at the table while mom or dad makes dinner.
Bobbi Conner is the creator and host of the award-winning national radio program The Parent's Journal. She is also the author of Everyday Opportunities for Extraordinary Parenting and the mother of three kids, now in college.