Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Toys, games and children, oh my.

Children learn through play, it's their equivalent of work. So play is very important for children and by extension their parents. I think every parent has his take on the subject of toys. Most would complain that they have way too many and even with many years of experimentation they are yet to find an effective way to store toys and keep them organized. So here are my two cents worth. I like toys that are multifunctional, open ended and most importantly relatively indestructible. I don't like toys that require batteries, toys that make noise and toys that break within one hour or less of purchase. My kids are still young, so we hadn't had much luck with board games (the competitiveness gets out of hand) or puzzles (they enjoy them but inevitably after one use the pieces get lost). I found that push and ride-on toys are a good investment for children of all ages. My kids found only limited use for the myriads of stuffed toys that they have. For the kids that like to build various wooden blocks have been much loved and well used as were other building sets like Lego's and Clicks (most ended up cracked or lost though). Craft supplies are always welcome here.They like coloring books and other variations there of such as stained glass like coloring sheets. They like to dress up and play games that don't require any specialized equipment. There are many games that could be played with a ball. Everyone here likes swings and seesaws in their various incarnations. It was useful to have a few rattles for the babies. Pop-up toys were liked by all in their time. A pail and shovel and other sand toys are good and could always transition into bath toys. For years one of my son's favorite toys was an old broken down toy garage left behind by the previous tenants. He colored it with crayons, festooned it with masking or scotch tape, covered it with contact paper, etc, he pretended it was a million different things. Otherwise they like to make up their own games, load their play bags with books and other things, the couch becomes a bus and off they go to where their fancy will take them. Hobby horses were also popular at one point, otherwise they ride the sponja sticks or other sticks or chairs. They like to make play houses and tents and we made and tried various over the years. All of them had a nook or a cabinet or a shelf that they liked to climb into at different stages. They all like dolls and we've made some and bought some. They like to listen to music and stories on tape/CD. We have lots of children's books to read and look at. I'll write more on children's books later. But mostly they've been pretty happy with whatever was handy and available around the house more so than what has been bought in the store. I try to get educational materials but not every toy or thing I've ever bought has been an unqualified success. As far as storage is concerned I found that big and shallow works better than anything else, so they could see what's inside the box and there is a lot of surface area for easy clean up. So most of the time there is no need to spend a small(or big)fortune on toys, lots of things can be gotten secondhand, some things could be made at home, you can swap with friends and family. Some toys are worth buying and are a good investment for years of happy playing. Like everything else, it takes trial and error and trying to take the long view as opposed to impulse buying helps one make good decisions when it comes to toys.


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