Star Wars and Lego

(this originally appeared in a slightly different form on my yahoo group, Waldorf_At_Home)
I have always loved Star Wars and have always been moved by what I perceive as a modern day fairy tale. I have two boys – and Stars Wars has been a feature of our lives since they were about 4 or 5 (no media before that so they didn’t pick it up).
Having said that, they “got it” seemingly from the ethers as they weren’t permitted to see the video (and only the first for a while as the violence gets a bit out of hand in Return of the Jedi if I remember correctly) until they were about 9/10 years old.  So these strong cultural influences do seem to effect us whether we like it or not!
Anyway…. as those of you who have my kindergarten book know, I am all for sword play –  with guidelines. One  rule that some people use is “no touching bodies”. I  feel that swords can be a good thing because of how active the children need to be when they play with them. Light sabers would be the same.
Obviously, if a theme like Star Wars seems to be taking over a child’s life, then parents might get concerned. But I would suggest this is perfectly normal – a good thing. Once upon a time it was cowboys and Indians in this country – I think (for a variety of reasons) that Star Wars is far preferable and that the storyline in those films is admirable (I’d prefer a bit more creative civil disobedience… but I guess pop culture hasn’t gotten there yet!).
As for Lego, I do wish that more of it was open ended – unfortunately, most lego seems these days to be confined to these little Harry Potter or Star Wars kits – too limiting in scope, I would say. At least when you just get the plain pieces, the child can make up whatever story in her mind that she wants instead of being tied to what the manufacturers want to push. Plus they are so ridiculously expensive! So I don’t have much problem with lego, either. It’s not beautifully hand crafted out of wood from Germany…. but so what? I definitely think children need their senses protected but if their environments are generally nurturing and they have loads of opportunity for creative open ended non-adult directed play, then some lego – or playmobile or plastic farm or other figures – is, in my opinion, no biggie. My boys certainly had all this stuff. And to be honest, I think some lego and play  mobile is more open ended than carefully and beautifully crafted wooden refrigerators and cell phones – the point is, a cardboard box or block of wood would be better for those things. Because then, when the child’s imagination and the needs of her play dictate, that cardboard box cum refrigerator can become a stable or cave or car or whatever. When the thing is made to only be a refrigerator – by an adult – then it can’t be anything but.
And I mean no disrespect to any people reading this who make their livings either by making or selling beautiful wooden toys.

Posted on January 10, 2006 in Play

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