I saw a mention on Boing Boing of an article at Collector's Weekly by Ben Marks. The article is about Colorforms. You might have had some as a kid, I know I did. I even had some as an younger adult and there might be a set or two in the attic or the garage. It isn't a toy that I am much interested in today but I enjoy reading about toys in general so I read the article. What was interesting to me was Ben's comments on children's imagination. Here's the opening two paragraphs.
One of the most cherished myths about children is that they possess incredible imaginations. Put a child on the floor in front of a pile of blocks, this magical thinking goes, and she will assemble veritable Roman Aqueducts and Towers of Babel, making the efforts of most adults look, well, like child’s play.
In fact, psychologists have long known that the imaginations of children are actually kind of lame. That’s because most little kids are unfettered by the rules and conventions of life that the culture at large relentlessly pushes them to embrace. Adolescents are somewhat better in the imagination department because they have more life experiences to draw from, but the real kings and queens of make-believe are adults. Think about it: Children pretend broom handles are horses and throw tea parties for their dolls; adults sit down and write “Game of Thrones.”
This helps validate what I have long believed about children and their imaginations. The article I posted the other day about the 1981 LEGO ads with the cute little redhaired girl seems to support this thought. If you go look at the ads you'll see the younger kids have created stacks of blocks which they believe to be something and the older kids make models that look more like the object they are making. I hear from a lot of adults that their kids or grandkids are really imaginative when it comes to playing with LEGO but when you actually see what they make it's pretty lame. When you observe the kids free building at the LEGO store they mostly just stack blocks up and knock them down. Once they get into their early teens the ones that work at it can be really quite creative.
But when it comes to making really cool LEGO creations it's the adults that have the ability to really make something that knocks your socks off. It's not just because they have the cash to have a large collection of parts either, it's their knowledge base and experience that really help. They can stick to a project longer than a child and they can imagine better what the end result will be.
The article in the "long known" link above talks more about imagination and while it is dry there were some pretty interesting bits and pieces though out. It might not be worth a read for everyone but Collector's Weekly has a good variety of interesting articles that were worth looking over. There's a nice bit of variety so I'm guessing that you'd find something that interested you.