Where and when does the line between deceit and make believe get drawn in childhood? How do we learn to differentiate between the two? Because pretending is crucial. Research shows the enormous cognitive benefits to pretend play – an awareness in the child that their own thoughts may differ from those of others, increased language use and enriched creativity. Root-Bernstein’s research with Nobel Prize and MacArthur Foundation winners indicates that early childhood make-believe worlds were more fundamental to play in those individuals, than in control participants in their fields. But much more important than any parent perceived benefits to pretend play, make believe is freeing and it is fun.
By Raquel Bello
Raquel is the co-creator of Carddies - Card People to Colour and Go. Carddies are cute colouring sets of card people ‘who live in a box’ and can be brought to life and carried in a handbag, backpack or pocket. She and her sister, Esther, an ex-lawyer and ex-accountant respectively, used to make cardboard dolls when they were little, pulling together toys from anything they had to hand (napkins, cotton wool, bits of cloth). Having children of her own, has given Raquel the excuse to regress.
Carddies is all about make-believe and imagination. The first were made out of the backs of cereal packsand I still make those when we are on holiday My three girls became completely engrossed in colouring them in, giving them names and acting out stories with them for hours at a time. Other children also asked me to draw them (my first “commission” was a Victorian family, followed by a football team). I draw the little people and animals; Esther has drawn most of the scenes and some of the packaging artwork, and it’s difficult to distinguish between the two styles shared doodling in childhood.
Carddies are environmentally friendly toys, made in Britain. They have been awarded Top Drawer 2012 Award for Best New Product for Children; Shortlisted at the Gift of the Year Awards 2013 (under the Eco Friendly Category), were highly commended Junior Design Awards 2012 (Best Arts and Crafts) and Toy Talk Best Travel Toy 2012.