As the youngest of seven children, the rest of who seemed to come in pairs and have "older" interests, I spent hours playing by myself while they were in school. I used to search for twigs shaped like a "Y", set two of these up a couple of inches apart, place a straight twig across them supported by the two Ys, and then proceed to lay more twigs diagonally against that one, pushing them into the ground a bit to create a small shelter for a tiny imaginary child. I would pat a bit of mud on it for good measure, or a leaf. Then build a second one, and a third, to have a whole little colony of lean-tos. A variation was to use 4 Y sticks and two parallel straight twigs to build a flat roof.
I saved matchboxes and glued them together to build a miniature desk or dresser, gluing a bit of cardboard on each drawer to pull it out with.
Then I would fill the drawers with tiny books I made using paper and a staple, an itsy-bitsy piece of eraser, and one of those tiny pencils that TIME Magazine used to send out as advertising. Or anything I could find or manufacture that was tiny.
Soon I graduated to a 4-poster canopy bed made from a cigar box, cutting off the lid to place it atop the four posts and covering it all with fabric remnants. Bits of aluminum foil were transformed into goblets and plates; a coffee-can lid and a spool into a table, iris leaves into woven mats, slender green branches into bows and pampas grass stalks into arrows (sharpened with a pencil sharpener).
I guess it helped that my mom didn't throw away all the useless odds and ends that accumulate in a house with seven kids.
Games with my brothers and sisters were even more fun, and we invented many. No technology, just whatever we found or imagined. God and our parents blessed us with a big house and an even bigger yard, and all the neighborhood kids were usually in it. Those games are the ones we remember even more than the dollhouses, cowboy hats and board games we got for Christmas and birthdays.
Thanks to God, and thanks to Dad and Mom!