My kids are thrilled with their new Christmas toys, games, books, and craft kits, but somehow the things that seem to capture their imagination the most are things that are not meant for play. Old make-up and Halloween face paint have been primary inspiration for creative play around here lately. At homeschool open-gym today there were push cars, and balls, and pop-up tunnels, and things to hop on, but the objects that saw the most play were the plastic garbage bins that housed the balls and toys. They were emptied and turned upside down as a hiding place or a "trap". They were rolled in and sat on and pushed around. I'm quite confident that my girls could make up (and have done so) amazing games with sticks and stones. That's not to say that the other things that are intended for children's play are not useful, they are, but often in surprising and creative ways.
Lately, Mermaid Olympians are just the thing to be, apparently. Lots of mermaid contests going on around here. Or, while we were at the grocery co-op, the girls were being salad ingredients and I was the bowl. So, their names became Lettuce and Carrot and Baby Tomato, and any question or suggestion had to be addressed as such. Or, I'm told to be an evil witch who won't let C free, but is friendly toward S, so that she may rescue her sister while my back is turned chopping veggies. These examples are just from the last couple of hours. Their imaginations fly all over the place, and it is never dull around here.