We are born with the desire to play and a natural ability to create fun from whatever is around. But for generations we’ve been told that fun comes in a shrink-wrapped box at the local megaseller. This modern idea of toys was created by businessman hoping to sell more stuff. The history of the toy business tells us a lot about how we’ve changed as a society. Don’t get me wrong, some toys are amazing and a lot of fun to play with. But in recent years, doctors and educators have produced volumes of research that shows that many toys not only reduce a child’s creativity but may pose health or safety risks.
Forgotten Playthings: What’s Old Is New Again
The best toys have lasting appeal: balls, blocks, dolls, games, puzzles, etc. Think about the toys that brought joy and delight to you, your parents and grandparents. Most of the toys that you played with as a child are still available now to share with your children. These classics have lasted for generations. Until 150 years ago all toys were handmade by relatives or neighbors (carved wooden toys, dolls, etc.). Durable simple objects are the best: blocks, marbles, and bits of fabric as puppets.
The better toys are simple in shape and respond to what the child wants from it. These toys give children a feeling of accomplishment. They improve eye-hand coordination and dexterity, and expand their imagination. Children are encouraged to experiment and explore. Children often find multiple uses for simple playthings. How many different things can be done with a hula hoop once the thrill of rotating your waist wears off?
Here are a few ideas for inexpensive toys and games:
* Bubbles (you can make bubbles from household soaps)
* Sidewalk chalk
* Checkers (can be made from objects found around the home)
* Frisbee (hours of outdoor play for a minimal investment)
* Ball & Jacks (with increasing skill levels that build eye-hand coordination)