Kid’s toys; you either love or hate them. I have a complete plastic aversion personally, its not that we don’t have any, our living room harbours the tell-tale signs of a toddler in the form of a small box of noisy, bright toys which have been handed down from friends and family. It’s just my preference is for my children to play with something more traditional and less restricting.
Think about it, an all singing, all dancing lights flashing, noise making plastic toy looks and sounds great for a few play sessions. Some may even argue that it’s more attention grabbing, lulling the child into play. But once they’ve learnt that this button does that and that one does this, play time it over. There’s no opportunity to extend their development or try a new way of doing things and it gets confined to the bottom of the play box, forever forgotten..
Children’s brains are like little sponges, soaking up experiences and figuring out how things work. They have an inbuilt drive to go out into the world and experience as much as they possibly can before the brain starts pruning away any unused connections they haven’t used, this usually happens at the age of around three. Use it or lose it basically!
And it’s the higher level learning, which takes place after the initial basics have been mastered, that imaginative play provides. It’s the characteristics of learning, the drive for wanting to work things out or achieve a certain result, which builds their amazing brains into something even more amazing. So I try to provide as much limitless play as I can.
And that’s my argument for more traditional toys, the ones which spark imagination, the limitless brain feeding ones. Go see for yourself. My boy loves his wooden kitchen, (this ones Asda if you’re wondering) you see it’s not just a kitchen to him. It’s a place to learn how to open and shut doors, something which makes a great noise when he bashes the spoons on the wood, it teaches him to reach up high and balance on his toes, a shape sorter when he moves the bowl in and out of the sink unit. It’s somewhere to hide all his treasure, a vessel for pouring, be it oats, cereal, rice lentils, glitter. you name it, he’ll find somewhere to pour it into.
He stacks empty boxes, bowls and cups, moves the hob circles from microwave, cooker to fridge, tunes his fine motor skills by turning the knobs and practices hooking the utensils up. And when all that’s done, he watches what the big people do in their huge, out of reach, don’t touch, kitchen and plays out everything he’s seen in the safety and grasp of his own, toddler sized one.
There’s no off switch to worry about limiting or ending his play, it’s robust to withstand the odd banging and climbing sessions and looks pretty good too. And the best bit? There’s no danger of tears when you realise you’ve forgotten the batteries on Christmas morning.
This might be one wooden toy, but there’s so many uses!
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