There are sand castles and then there are sand houses. As my daughter, Ursula, has turned five, her imaginative play has suddenly all centered on the home and making it her own. She wanted a play kitchen for Christmas, she has been taking care of her doll by giving her a bed and a clothing shelf in her room, AND she's become super great at cooking and helping to set and clear the table.
Actually, there's also a great deal of play around the concept of her "store" which sells innumerable things, all of which have to be wrapped many times (please come back later to pick them up) and is the chief cause of things disappearing in our house.
But the highlight of this play, for me, came during our vacation last November in Costa Rica, where she played with her friends day after day on the broad expanses of sand, under the bright sun, drawing intricate homes and patios and steps and gardens and even cars to take you away and back. It was very much like Harold and the Purple Crayon, in that anything she wanted to make, she simply drew in the sand. I stood by, also in the blazing sun, watching and trying to be as creative as the houses grew and grew.
It got me thinking about how home is a concept that children begin to build into very early. It's deeply comforting and rooting and it puts them in control, because anyone can make their own home in the sand or with blocks or with boxes and it gives one a real private place in the world - a place to call your own. AND a place where you can do what you want - isn't that fun?
The following pictures contain about an hour and a half of play, and all began with one room in which there was a bed. From there, it radiated outward to kitchen, living room, more bedrooms, stairs, gardens, etc... Food in the kitchen (see the green seaweed thingys) was a big attraction. Then there was the introduction of another house (a second home?) which took a car to get to, so we had to draw the car.
As David Byrne sang:
"Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me round..."
Here are the pics.
The overview of most of the first home with Esme and Ursula consulting:
Esme adding another Bedroom:
I have NO IDEA... more food???
Esme drawing a meal onto a plate in the kitchen:
The Fast Car:
Starting a new garden:
Another Kitchen filled with food:
A fully planted Garden:
Where we went in Costa Rica? Playa Langosta near Tamarindo and stayed in a hotel called Cala Luna (very nice, but pricey for Costa Rica! We've usually always rented a house in the past for our six families, which is much more affordable).
(Images: Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan)