Childhood Playtime for Creativity

Candy Palette

What did you love to do as a child?

Who did you play with?

How did you play?

Where did you play best?


When did playtime stop?

As I recall my own childhood playtime:

  • What: I loved to make forts, perform magic shows for anyone who’d watch, sell candy during recess (made a killing), draw, make creations and tinker with anything I could get my hands on. My mom even made edible play dough for me. Thanks Mom.
  • Who: I was out and about a lot, playing with a lot of kids. I loved watching my friends draw and create.
  • How: No rules. Later in life I even burned the carpet in my room. A magic trick involving a rope soaked in lighter fluid… sorry Mom and Dad.
  • Where: Although I played a lot with other kids, I spent countless hours in my room tinkering, drawing, writing, reading… just playing.

And last night, on a whim, I decided to revisit my childhood playtime compliments of our local grocery store and $17.04 in candy.

It seemed foolish. It seemed childish. It seemed a waste.

And that’s exactly the point: to just play.


Don’t Create, Just Play

Initially, I tried to create something amazing.

I tried to produce a candy sculpture.

It didn’t work. All I had was sticky fingers, a hole drilled into a nightstand and whatever this thing is:

I had to go back to square one: play.

Square one for me was unwrapping some of these beauties (and yes, eating a few) and appreciating their shapes, textures and colors.

Once unwrapped, I Googled Mr. Roy G. Biv and took several moments to just see.

To just enjoy the colors.

To slow down and let them arrange themselves before me…


Something Else

Once I scrapped the initial idea (the candy sculpture thing) and went back to the basics of childhood playtime, something else emerged.

It’s not amazing.

It’s not my ‘best work.’

It’s not high art.

But it’s my creation from just tinkering around, having fun and growing down.

Anyone need some candy?


Author: Andrew Zahn

I'm a son, husband, dad, business owner, actor and good sleeper/eater. On this blog, I pave a highway for creative growth by providing food, water, and shelter for those wishing to live, work, and play with creative zest.

  • Diane Zahn

    You’re welcome. The other “play” you did was creating intricate string things in your room like when we opened your door the dresser drawer opened as well. I think that was about getting dressed in the morning.

    “drilling a hole in a nightstand”!!! He’s yours now Sarah!

    Love You, Creative One

    • Andrew Zahn

      You started it! 😉

      There was a lot of creativity in our home growing up. Thanks.

  • It doesn’t surprise me that your childhood playtime involved candy!

    I loved this exercise!

    I will have to try something with my kids’ Matchbox cars!
    If I fail, at least I got to play with Matchbox cars, which was the whole reason I bought them anyway! ;^}

    By the way, not ALL play dough is edible, just so you know!

    • Andrew Zahn

      Thanks for the play dough tip.

      Too late though . . . I’m ok, no worries.

  • Jim

    Fun! Now I want some candy. To eat. I’ll play with it..but then I’m a gonna eat it. 🙂

    • Andrew Zahn

      I truly love that book I won from you. I was reading it, got an idea, and headed off to the grocery store to do this silliness.

      So much fun.

      And candy is ALWAYS fun.

  • This makes me want to drive down to my parents’ house and get out all my old Star Wars figures and Legos and just go to town building elaborate worlds in my old bedroom. I would seriously get lost for hours coming up with story lines, going outside in my backyard (or Endor). I have seriously lost the art of “play”. Everything today seems to be “purposeful” or “intentional”, as if play is a time waster. I’m visiting my parents next weekend and I am totally bringing my toys back with me.

    • Andrew Zahn

      It’s amazing how playing can end up being even more profitable than muscling some idea out or making something happen.

      Have fun with the action figures Adam!

  • Andrew, this post rocks! Way to bring me back to my playing days. I would also get lost for hours playing with my brothers with Legos, Star Wars, GI Joe or Matchbox cars. Now that I have kids, I get to re-live playing with toys with them. I gave them all of my Star Wars toys and that was a surreal experience. Playing with my toys with my kids. AWESOME!!!

    Thanks Andrew!

    • Andrew Zahn

      Fantastic Warrior Dave.

      Loved looking at your site as well!

  • Funny. I’m reading this while watching Big. I think all creative should watch this yearly.

    • Andrew Zahn

      Good movie!

      Watching Big + Eating Candy + Playing With Candy = Priceless.

  • From the time I remember I have always loved candy. I enjoy all types of candy (I puffed on plenty of candy cigarets when I was a child).

    I need to go find some late 80s and early 90s candy to remember my child hood. It might unlock the child in me even more.

  • Ha, I love this, too! How fun and COLORFUL!

    I’ve been thinking about that burning rope story the last few days because I was telling Dale that you had a magic show and there were some great stories from those days (the rope one being a Top Story).

    Watching my kids play here on our ‘farm’ in the country is such great fun in all four seasons. (I would’ve gone crazy for sheer delight at my surroundings with this much nature around me as a child. Growing up on the ‘circle’ of a dead end street, back yard pushed up against everyone else’s backyard, any little bit of nature was highly, highly inspirational.) Just today, in unseasonally warm weather for March 15th, the kids were outside, squishing through mud, huge puddles, remnants of snow, and making monster truck jumps, moving muddy snow in toy dump trucks, and carving paths w/ large shovels, all the while muttering their individual stories to themselves in varying volume.

    What did I do as a child….one place I always played: the piano. I didn’t practice it; I played it, and I had such great fun playing, always imagining great stories, daring adventures, large romances while at the keyboard. Yes, my parents had to pull me off the piano while other parents had to threaten their kids to get them to ‘practice.’ What an outlet!

    Libraries, the back yard, the neighborhood kids, G.I. Joe for me too, and STar WArs, Barbies, and….the mirror to get dressed up on different costumes and act out various dramas I made up right then. Last time I remember doing that, I was 13 or 14 I believe. Some Spanish-style dress inspired me to make up a whole 3 act epic which I acted out in front of the mirror, late late at night while Sherry was asleep in her bed (we shared a room you know).

    Candy. Who would’ve thought. Like a box of crayons or a box of colored pencils: so colorful, so inspirational.

    Thanks, Andrew: great post.

  • Excellent idea! 🙂
    I very much believe in the idea that as much as we grow up, one should never lose that innocence and simple love of exploring and of enjoying the moment and the little things.
    It’s such an important part of being a well-rounded person and keeping your sanity, for me at least.

    Thanks for sharing and now I think I’m going to go look for something to play with… 😀


  • Diane Zahn

    Oh such wonderful memories, plus my mind is full of a son and animals. Fire up some from the past and ignite fellow readers to share theirs. Just start with a bucket of snakes or tadpoles. Daddy-o