We're on holiday in France and we stop for a picnic in the woods, under the shade of some pine trees. It's beautifully warm and sunny. The boy finishes his baguette and the rest of his lunch in record time as usual. Then he looks around for something to do. He doesn't have his football. The ground is covered in pine needles, making a soft blanket, it's really spongy and thick.
So the boy starts playing with these pine needles, piling them up into walls, making a kind of enclosure. He then starts to make a roof for his structure, he collects twigs and uses these to balance on the walls, piling more pine needles on top to cover it.
Soon, there is a building with a passageway and two rooms at the end, all covered over. He's totally immersed, only pausing occasionally to ask someone to fetch another twig...
When it's all finished he tells us about it - it's a home for animals, they have bedrooms and a living room, and they can get in through the entrance at the front. He asks me for some paper and a pen. And he makes a sign, putting it by the side of the road, so that the passing traffic (we are in the middle of nowhere...) can see it and come and look at his animal house. He even writes it in French.
So you don't always need toys, you just need a bit of imagination.
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