Here is a repeat of my article for Novembers Frontier Gazette that I thought was worth saying over here as well!
The Christmas fliers have been out in abundance over the last two weeks, full of talking toys, computers and remote controlled cars. Even the doll houses have lights that works and sound cards that make the family talk! Wii and it's games of virtual imagination are big on the scene and what toddler wouldn't like a tractor with flashing lights and real motor sounds?
But what I long for as a mom is a house with home grown imagination and occasional moments of piece and quiet!
Mary and Laura had very simple play toys, made from the natural resources around them or toys that imitated adult responsibilities.
Here is a little list of toys and games that I find quiet, educational and fun for my children.
Wooden train set - we have a battery powered plastic set, but for children under 5, it is difficult to put together, trains crash as they run at different speeds depending on the battery power, and the pieces break when a parent accidentally steps on one hidden under the laundry.
Our wooden set though.....fits perfectly with any building block set, can be cheap or expensive (Thomas verses store brand) and can be put together in any order by any set of cute chubby fingers that is willing to try!
I always enjoy hearing the gentle "chugg chugg whoooo" from my littlest family member
Cloth Dolls - I get so tired of dressing Barbie for the umpteenth time, because her limbs are so stiff for DD to get her dressed. Rag dolls, Waldorf inspires dolls or cloth and wire dolls such as doll house dolls or the Pony club or Only hearts are "girl shape" inspired and easy for young fingers to dress on their own. One rag doll can become a baby, a sister or a best friend at play time, and can be as much fun as any barbie if given with a generous wardrobe. (Oh!! Look at this link!!)
Books - The window to the imagination, almost any kind will do! Finding books that are age appropriate and easy to read for the child is a good idea. But also having books that you can read as a family can inspire great moments together. Offer to read a new book to a child in your life!
Paper, Ribbons, Scissors and Glue- My childrens favorite Holiday gift is when Uncle B raids the dollar store paper and craft department. I personally avoid paint and markers, but I have no issues scrubbing up glue off my table! I have had some very interesting pictures, creatures and "items" created at our table from little ones imaginations without prompts or suggestions.
Just Like Mom: (or Dad!) - Let your children help with chores by providing miniatures of your tools, such as little aprons, small squirt bottles with vinegar and water, little dusters and mini cookie cutters. Let them use playdough when you're baking.
I am all for plastic work tools and hard hats as well, so they can be fixers like Dad.
Out door Fun- Today we had our first snow, and there are two snowmen in my yard! The sleds are out and the skates cleaned up, ready for the local rink. In the fall they made pretend camp fires from pruned scrub, pretended to be birds in nests with the leaf piles. And in the summer they spent hours throwing rocks in the lake and building sand castles and motes. And last spring the loved jumping in the puddles and planting and watering seeds in the garden. There is always lot's to do outside, even without buckets of toys. Head outside and explore and see what Mother nature has left for us to play with!
Toy Tip: Let the batteries wear out and don't replace them! If a toy can be "used" without the batteries, leave them out and let the children start using their own imaginations again.