My boys have A LOT of toys. But that’s hardly news, is it? I know so many parents who’ve said, “Oh we keep it simple. We don’t want to spoil him/her.” And then before they know it, their living room has exploded with colourful plastic creations. Me too! In fact, it truly is my fault – sometimes, I’m actually more excited about a toy than the boys.
Sometimes, I’ll look at their toy box and think, “What IS all this stuff?” But if I separate the puzzles from the play houses, the cars from the cooking kits – I usually come to the conclusion that most toys play a pretty awesome role in the boys’ overall development.
But which toys should stay at the top of the rotation, and which toys should move on? According to Dr. Kathleen Alfano, Director for the Fisher-Price Child Research Department, a good toy:
Is safe, durable, interesting and fun to use.
Stimulates creativity and imagination.
Encourages inquisitiveness and resourcefulness.
Is a tool for learning (challenging, yet not frustrating).
Invites repeated use.
Involves child interaction.
Addresses developing needs and emerging skills.
For me, it’s the toys that make them think outside the box; the ones that can spark their imagination well beyond the standard (or “typical”) expectations of play. At the moment, Ryder is currently obsessed with the Little People Pirate Ship, a gift he received not too long ago. But it’s not the toy he’s drawn to per se; it’s the story surrounding it. The fact that ships float on water; the way pirates say “aaaarh!”; the emotions behind leaving mommy and daddy and sailing the high seas (it’s actually quite philosophical for a 3 year old). He is entertained for hours and I’m happy where this kind of play takes both his mind and his spirit.
And little Reid is learning by imitation. Fisher-Price generously sent us some of their most sought-after toys, including Zig the Big Rig – a talking truck that comes to life through speech, fun sounds, lights & animated reactions. Reid loves watching Ryder interact with the toy and then has his own little fun: making “brrrrr” noises with his mouth as he pushes it back and forth; giggling as the truck comes to life; even loading it with his own cargo (in this case, a food storage lid). It’s magical to watch!
Take a look through your child’s toy box and try to identify the “essential” toys. You’ll be surprised just how many of them can let little imaginations soar!