Remember being a kid and getting so excited when your parents said you could have that giant empty box that packaged some newly-arrived-on-your-doorstep appliance-or-such? It's a fort! It's an elf castle! It's a giant dollhouse! It's a... whatever you could imagine it to be.
Take a listen to this, from last week on NPR: Old Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills.
Turns out you didn't need the latest and greatest toy after all. And with all that unstructured play time you were learning, too. Who knew?
Along similar lines-- an excellent commentary over at Finding Wonderland, for those of us that are tired of the endless marketing of "stuff" to children (and everyone, for that matter...)