When I was a child, I spent hours and hours building houses out of branches and leaves and "living" in them. I dressed up continually, trying on different personalities from different times and places, many of them not real to anyone but me. I made potions out of flower petals and rainwater, and whole worlds out of moss and twigs and tiny plants. I spent a huge amount of time outdoors, alone and with friends, with no play set but the trees and grass of the common area that backed my family's yard.
Watching our children at Summers-Knoll when they play in our playground or in the woods of County Farm Park takes me right back there. The games that the older children have been playing over at their temporary digs at the Good Shepherd are endlessly fascinating. They have no slide, no swing set, just a rather intriguing space with grass, paths and a wildish area of native plants and marshy ground. The children -all of them- have turned it into a complex system of real estate which they buy and sell, rent and share in nuanced and ever-changing ways. The lack of a formal play structure is as nothing in the face of their blazing imagination.
Here's an article from The Atlantic, giving yet another reminder of the importance of play to developing minds. Enjoy.