This book has a purpose beyond that of mere amusement. Its aim is to aid parents in furnishing not only entertainment but profitable employment as well, for their little ones—profitable, in that work under the guise of play, makes for character. The value of the things made is not in their finish, but in the training which they afford—a value ethical rather than intrinsic.
Children throw aside as uninteresting the finished toys from the shops when they have once learned to make playthings for themselves. To an imaginative child the possibilities of green things growing, of other materials provided by the changing seasons, and of the apparently useless trifles to be found in any home, are endless, and far surpass in permanent interest the realm of magic. In giving tangible form to the creatures imagined, thought is ripened into action and childhood's natural desire for expressed imagery satisfied.
In making use of these apparently inappropriate materials in the construction of their own toys resourcefulness is engendered, practical intelligence stimulated, the inventive faculty cultivated, sympathetic acquaintance with nature broadened, and manual dexterity increased—all of which will later in life prove of inestimable value.
Then, too, such employment strengthens, or in some instances, creates the ability to get pure enjoyment out of the near at hand little things, which makes for permanent happiness.
The whole nature of a child cries out for self activity. Producing by his own efforts something that satisfies his own needs gives him the keenest possible pleasure, and puts into him that energy which results in love of work.
There is no more interesting study for grown ups than that of children at play with dolls and animals of their own making. The more imaginative children prefer the flower dolls which fade or die quickly and then go to take their places in the sky to which they give the beautiful colors on sunset evenings.