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Where the Toys Are

Posted in Blog on Jul 14, 2010

metrologo(from the Mom Culture blog for Metro magazine)

It’s the closest thing I’ll come to having a garage. Actually, I have a garage in my apartment building that I like very much; it’s heated and keeps me dry during rainstorms. But I’m talking about a garage with a door that opens up to reveal an array of toys, balls and board games (Twister, anyone?!).

My newfound “garage” lives at the Walker Art Center’s Open Field. It’s a wooden tool shed that holds many great surprises inside.

I know the Walker probably designed Open Field for everyone (probably), but through my myopic parenting eyes it seems to have been conjured up as a special summer gift to those of us with kids. Open Field is like a library – except instead of books, there are toys to borrow (for use on-site only.) Communal playing: it’s not just for jam band shows anymore!

The “garage” holds a variety of things to play with, so it is especially perfect for little kids who tend to have the attention span of a fly when surrounded by new toys. I really love watching little kids have access to free play because choice is not something they have a lot of in life. Sure, we pretend to give choices (e.g., “Do you want the fish sticks or the noodles?”). But in truth, kids don’t have much say in most matters, so free play and lots of options are the holy grail of childhood.

As I was watching my 2 year old play, I had fun imagining what it was like inside his head while he played at the Walker’s Open Field. Maybe something like this: (CONTINUE READING AT METROMAG.COM…)