There are many versions of sand-play and sand-play therapy since Dr Margaret Lowenfeld introduced her ground breaking work in the postwar years; or should I say following WW2! Play Therapists and Dramatherapists and Jungian therapists all have collections of small objects and trays of sand in order for people to create small worlds, and tell stories about their lives. The objects can be small stones, shells, buttons, buckles, items from dolls houses, animals for a farm yard, wild animals and mythic animals, and lots of people from different occupations, ages and ethnicity. Also there are usually trees, bridges and fences, birds of the air, creatures from the sea and domestic pets. And more.
The debate I am having at the moment with friends and colleagues is the use of weapons in the play room. Most people say, 'Oh it is harmless - children have always played with bows and arrows - or guns - or plastic swords. Surely knights with spears or soldiers with guns don't do any harm'. After all 'they are only playing'. My mind shifts to the child soldiers being trained to shoot their families, the fact that many countries have been riven by war long term. Are we living in a culture of war or a culture of peace? Or a culture for war or a culture for peace?
By arming children in the play room, in an age when fantasy and reality are often confused, especially on television, is reinforcing the weapon culture. I just don't buy this, 'children need to be able to express their anger so thats what the guns are for' - there are plenty of ways to express anger without weaponry. Anyone for a jog?