Child's Play

>> Thursday, June 10, 2010

I recently had a conversation with The Husband about toys and kids and playing. This conversation began with an observation that  our adorable nephews seem to find string, grass and rocks endlessly facinating but lose interest in "real" toys with astonishing rapidity. The conversation moved into a discussion of our own childhood experiences and what kinds of play and learning opportunities we hope to provide for our soon-to-arrive Boy Child. I have to admit, I am mildly terrified of being overrun by noisy, plastic, mass-produced cars and trains and LeapFrog gadgets. I (and my husband) are much more drawn to toys that encourage kids to "do" rather than toys that "do stuff " for kids and so, I was very interested in the author's perspective in this article. What do you think?

I am curious: how do you encourage your children to play? Are "toys", expecially the glitzy, gadget-y toys that seem to dominate store shelves these days, overrated?

7 comments:

Annie O. June 10, 2010 at 9:05 PM  

That article was amazing. We just dumped 90% of our kids toys. And kept things like legos, mr. potato head and some cars and action figures. They are so much more entertained. And I shove them outside everyday too, totally wears them out, I love it. This whole technology taking over thing is getting to me. We read a lot to them too, that is a huge key to imagination I think. They still want all that shiny stuff in stores but I think they are happier (and less frustrated) without it.

Emily June 10, 2010 at 10:34 PM  

I have lots of opinions on this. I'll try to keep it brief here. :) My standard has been no battery powered toys, but that's a somewhat simplistic rule and the crux really is the do vs do for distinction. Anything I've purchased myself is made of natural materials--cotton, silk, wood. We do have a few plastic things--a couple dolls and maybe a few other things. Honestly, her favorite 'toys' have always been random things she gathers up, like emplty water bottles and vitamin bottles to shake. Toys and baby gear actually really freak me out for some reason because they seem so garish (if I'm using the word right...haha). Anyway, we also don't watch kid TV for more or less the same reason-something about the concept of things geared only to kids I find weird. So we'll watch TV as a family, but not cartoons or stuff. AND I'm a little weirded out by the commercialization of childhood so that's another reason I sort of avoid this stuff. We were hanging out in the nursery at church and one of the adults showed Morgan a toy with Mickey and co. and she said 'look, here's Minnie, do you like Minnie?' and I had this holy moly we DO do things differently moment--Morgan has never seen Minnie before, and actually nursery is total overload to her because they have battery powered toys!

I know I'm being long winded. I warned you I had lots of opinions here, and more info and resources if you ever want it. :) Anyway, I get that we live in the real world, and the adults in this family like our own gadgets too much to ever think we could shield our kids from it all. And the kid is already very adept at unlocking my phone using the touch screen swipe. Ha. But that doesn't mean we can't try, and at least not have our physical space overwhelmed with cheap plastic toys.

Erin June 11, 2010 at 1:59 PM  

Annie and Emily: I'm glad I'm not the only one who felt this way about children's toys and play. :-)
I just re-read the article and I was reminded that I loved, loved, loved, this quote:
If we stifle creativity, bore or over-stimulate our children, it is like dampening the fires of their spirits; short-changing them in a way that will make a difference throughout all of their lives. Parents themselves are often distracted and over-extended, and it has become so easy to slip into the comfortable format of putting a child in front of the television, or sticking an electronic toy in his hands so he can punch the buttons and bring up the images that will keep him quiet — and stop the demands he is making on us!

What do you think?

Morgan -Ing June 11, 2010 at 8:45 PM  

That article was awesome. We have one box of toys and I feel like its too many. I am constantly "shooing out of doors" and some days are more successful than others. :) I think I need to downsize again.

Amber C June 14, 2010 at 4:10 PM  

I go through all my kids' toys about every 4-5 months to root out those that are broken or just cheap and can be tossed (ones they get when someone takes them to McD's or whatever) and others that they haven't played with in ages that are still good enough to go to Good Will. Their favorite toys are, as mentioned before, the ones that require more creativity like cars, blocks, railroad tracks, etc. The old-fashioned classics are heads above the new fangled batter powered ones that don't require imagination. I would whole-heartedly recommend focusing more money into those than battery operated. Good luck and congrats Erin on your "Boy Child".

Lisa @ Pulsipher Page June 19, 2010 at 2:51 PM  

I know my next project now- redoing the play room. I completing agree with the article. Creative play is so important.

Charlotte June 19, 2010 at 7:30 PM  

I've tried buying other things for my kids, but all they want are building toys (where they make something out of the toy) or coloring/craft stuff. For my family other toys are just a waste of money.

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