When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time alone. The rest of my siblings were sent to various boarding schools in England and Scotland while I stayed with my parents in Southeast Asia, too young to be sent away. With a vivid imagination, it never seemed lonely or boring between the holidays that brought my brother and sisters home.
One of my favourite pastimes was to build miniature gardens in containers, such as biscuit tins. I can't tell you how many times my mother opened her compact...to find I had nicked the mirror out, in order to have a pond for my tiny, imaginary world! I had a beautifully curved Japanese bridge to put over the pond and then it was just a matter of choosing the right small stones, shells and other found treasures. Tiny branches, taken from bushes around the garden would become trees at the edge of the pond.
When my own children came along, I shared this game with them for an activity. It could be played together or with separate projects, depending on the size of the container. With a large rectangular pan the game became known as, "Infinity," for the endless different worlds we could make. After pouring in a base of sand, each would take turns adding a stone or other miniature something to make the landscape grow. Small pie-pans made great containers for individual worlds. Sometimes a particular creation would be kept for a while; sometimes a world ended as soon as it was made, creating room for another.
So I share this, in the neighbourhood, as a great game of imagination without competition for your kids. All you need is an old pie-pan or biscuit-tin, some sand and treasures, mostly provided by Mama Nature. It is an infinite game of creation, making great connections in a child's growing brain and imagination.