remember me and smile
the smell and taste of summer

fun for nothin' challenge

Gaby and Victor jumping rope

Who would have though that an old rope could provide hours of entertainment? Indeed, it can. As does a spoon, a cup, and plentiful dirt. I have a hunch that this knack for creating something fun out of nothing is not specific to children in Mexico, many of whom have little or no access to fancy store-bought contraptions. It's something I've though about a lot, having been in daily contact with indigenous children whose playthings amount to pine cones, sticks, rocks, and the occasional found object (trash.)

Gaby, Victor and Benjamin jumping rope

Then there's my toy philosophy - high-quality, educational, organic, non-toxic, quality-over-quantity ...  embarrassingly gringo and downright untenable in most parts of the world. Certainly, there is a wonderful place for such toys in the hands of a child whose parents can afford such a luxury. There are so many amazing resources out there nowadays. However, the true fun, the true creative endeavor, is to allow children to make something out of what we perceive as nothing. A piece of newspaper. A rope. Sticks. Hand-me-down marbles. Natural paints. Rocks. An old family parlor game ... low- or no-cost alternatives to store-bought toys and games. And so I'm introducing an ongoing challenge: Fun for Nothin'.

Here's the scoop: Fun for Nothin' is a resource for parents trying to move away from the consumer culture and for those who might be on a tight budget. To participate, join the Flickr group,, and upload a photo of a low- or no-cost children's activity or toy. Share a tutorial if you wish in the photo notes or by linking to your blog post.

Go ahead and take a button for your blog and help to spread the word so that we can make this a great parenting resource for families near and far. (Just copy and paste the HTML code in the text box into your blog's HTML code.)


Hooray for simplicity! Hooray for handmade! Hooray for re-using and recycling! Hooray for old-fashioned games! Hooray for free fun! And, lest the sentiment has not made itself clear yet .... hooray for improvised jump ropes!