I remember when I was in school. Back in the 1950s, we had play time at school: unsupervised time to play with blocks and logs, and even tumble weed to build forts. We made things with clay made from ordinary kitchen flour. We went to the beach and spent hours building sand castles. At school, we played in the sand box, or on the gym set. It was not regulated as during a physical ed class. Older children would play tag or practice spinning balls or skip flat rocks over the river water. Parents serving as playground supervisors would volunteer to watch over us so that no one would get hurt while the teachers were busy setting up the next exercises in the classroom.
Play time in the snow was wonderful. We made the typical snowmen or rolled up and compacted snow to build warm forts with tall walls, which protected us from the cold wind. We would make complex tracks on a small hill in which to slide those circular sleds made from garbage can lids. On such track ended up in an irrigation ditch filled with ice with a six foot cushion of snow. Our parents cringed, but it was so much fun and free. No admission fees. It was the best playtime we had that year as a neighborhood. I doubt that could be done today as ditches in cities must be fenced and are regulated by the Building and Safety, by adults who do not have the time to watch children play.
Indoor rainy day play was the best time, as our teachers brought out boxes of simple toys: feathers to make Native American headdresses, trimmings to make clothes used in creative dramatics, paper to make boxes and birds, fabrics to make pirate cloths and ghost costumes, stuff that most adults would toss out as junk, but that children would beg them to keep.
At camp, they would give us a box filled with clothing and scarves. We were told to stage a play on any topic. It was called creative dramatics, but was not part of a course. I remember entertaining my folks and neighhors with staged plays. We would spend hours rehearsing. Then would come the dress rehearsals. We would critique ourselves. Boys would play celebrating Mass, while girls would take a doll and play mommy, or wear a scarf and be Sister Victoria teaching addition and subtraction.
Play was very important as it inspired us to become engineers, teachers, priests, nuns, mothers, fathers, doctors, lawyers, etc.