As a mom of four girls, I’ve been fascinated by the gender differences in kids. Even way back when I was babysitting a family with three boys and one girl, I noticed that boys and girls are very different. Recently, after observing my girls play, I asked a friend of mine—a mom of 5 boys—to write a post with me about how boys and girls play differently.
How Girls Play Together
This summer, the girls rediscovered our MarbleWorks set. It was Pearl who pulled out the plastic bin with the brightly-coloured pieces inside. Soon, all of her sisters were involved in building marble tracks. Then they asked for the marbles. As the game continued, however, I noticed a shift in the way they played.
Each of the girls had picked a bigger “shooter” marble to be their “Mommy” and “Daddy” marbles. Each had a collection of favourite smaller marbles (including a gold-and-white marble that was the subject of frequent arguments). These marbles became sisters, friends, cousins with the other marbles. And the MarbleWorks tracks? Those were the houses for the marble families.
Their chatter about which marbles were related to which other marbles, and which marbles were visiting which friends, and which marbles lived in which house, made me smile. You see, that’s not how my brothers and I played with our MarbleWorks set. We tried to build the tallest or most complicated marble runs. Once our marble tracks were built, we raced our marbles down as fast as we could—or tried to keep all 70-some-odd marbles we owned rolling down the tracks, with cacophonous rewards.
A similar thing happened a couple years ago when we got a set of HotWheels. My husband was very excited to see the cars. “Gender-neutral toys,” he said with a grin, probably glad that none of the cars were pink or sparkly. I showed the girls how to set up the race track, and they raced a few cars down. Then one day my husband overheard the girls playing cars in their room. Two cars were apparently getting married.
The girls still play HotWheels, but we don’t have the race tracks anymore. Instead, they build houses and garages for their cars with our Jenga Blocks. Their cars all have names. One afternoon, they build an observatory for their cars so that they could watch the stars. Then followed a story about one little girl car who wanted to stay up late star gazing, while her parents (attempting to stay up with her) fell asleep on her.
How Boys Play Together
My boys have energy to power the electricity in my home. When they play they are the Avengers, Saint Michael and the Archangels, knights and ninjas. They are quite creative and inventive in their play. There are almost always props involved—and by props I mean weapons such as swords or guns.
As I write this they are playing in the backyard; each has a super power that controls nature. They are running and jumping off the trampoline and fighting the evil bad guys. There is almost always an action adventure happening.
That being said, my boys do enjoy down time. They will actually sit quietly and build with Lego as they listen to audio books. Their favourites being The Chronicles of Narnia, The Classical Kids Series about composers, The Action Bible, Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and The Heroes of Olympus. We can go on but the theme of what they listen to also has heroes and fighting in the stories!
Boys also like to draw and sketch daily. You may have guessed that they like to draw and sketch ninjas, knights, Power Rangers and Avengers as well as the Saints and Angels in fight scenes. They will all sit still to listen to audio books but are sitting and drawing or building. My boys also enjoy listening to music as they sit and draw and even as they play. Currently the Newsboys Restart Album is blasting in my backyard.
Interspersed through the play are also times of chores for my boys. We home educate our children so they are taught how their home is run and how they are part of this family. Chores are completed after breakfast and they also each have a specific job before meal times and after meal times. We do value their playing together because at those times they are building communication and relationship with one another and also building their imaginations. While I don’t get tea parties, I am invited to sword fights and ninja adventures.
“We do our girls no favors by trying to pretend that they aren’t different from boys – don’t we talk about embracing our ‘female strengths’? How can we encourage our girls to embrace who they are – who God made them to be! – without acknowledging, encouraging and celebrating that they learn differently, lead differently and yes, play differently. Those things that appeal to girls, do so because, I believe, that is the way God made them – made us!” ~ Shaunti Feldham, “Are LEGOs Just for Boys? It’s Complicated“
Maripaz is a Catholic mom of five boys ages ten to one. She and her husband have been married for eleven years and currently live in Edmonton, Alberta. Maripaz has a teaching degree and homeschools her boys. She blogs about raising boys, brewing coffee, and drinking wine at A Brewtiful Life.
Have you noticed how your boys and girls play differently?