If the majority of today’s toys do little to engage the child in meaningful work (or play), then what are we to do?
As parents, how do we cultivate an environment that meets our children’sÂ continuouslyÂ developing needs, allows opportunity to explore, engage inÂ imaginativeÂ play, and does not build the standard American consumerist attitude?
Each family will answer this question differently. It’s a personalÂ preference. We all have different priorities about how we approach the educating and cultivating of our children.
Toys in Our Home
When buying toys I consider a few different things:
- Material – What material is it made out of? How well will it withstand consistent play, drool, being dropped, etc?Â Â I prefer “real” materials. What that really means is anything other than plastic. 😉 We do have some plastic toys, but I try to keep them to a minimum.
- Longevity – How long will it last? Is it something that will only last a few months? Will Otto get to play with it after Joey? Does it look like it’ll break easily? I don’t want to spend money on something, bring it into my home, have my children enjoy it only to have it break in a month or two.
- Diversity – Is it something that both boys can enjoy even though they’re a few years apart? Will girls enjoy it as well? Can it do more than what it’s advertised to do?Â
- Entertainment Factor – Is it going toÂ accostÂ my home and children with busy noise and lights? Will it stimulate the children? Does it allow them creative control or tell them how to do it? Is it an “entertainment” toy?
- Classic toys – trains and train tracks, Lincoln logs, Mr. Potato Head (plastic, I know), cars/planes, blocks
- Dress-up Clothes – We add to this as Joey’s interests grow. Right now, we have costumes for a knight, cowboy, the Man with the Yellow Hat, as well as a few everyday items like hats, sunglasses, and a wallet with old giftcards.
- Books – Lots and lots of books. Good books. Don’t give them worthless books. If you’re looking for suggestions, check out the book Honey for a Child’s Heart by Gladys Hunt. (Perhaps a future post on this topic?)
- Art – watercolors, crayons, colored pencils, paper, scissors, glue, stamps…you get the idea. This is becoming a more regular part of our lives.
- Music – Not just on cds either. We have a child-size guitar, cymbals, maracas, triangle, as well as a full keyboard and our guitar.
- Outdoors – Lots of outside play, which often consists of wandering in an open field, short family hikes, playgrounds, and learning to play sports.
- giftcard to the movies
- pass to a children’s museum
- pass to a zoo
- membership to an indoor playground or children’s gym (great during winter/rainy season)
- homemade coupons for special dates/overnighters with grandparents or aunts/uncles
- art or dance classes
- a trip to a sports game