Parents can get too wrapped up in toys. Sometimes we might feel guilty if our kids don’t have the popular toy of the month. For, as we all know, gadgets and trends go in and out about as fast as we can take a breath.
We as a whole buy too many toys, it’s just that simple. Many, many years ago, I remember my grandparents saying a child has more fun with the box the toy came in, then the toy itself. Actually, they were right. In my years of parenting, and running my childcare business, often this was just the case. Of course, realistically, it had to depend on the child, their age, and the toy in question. If it were Lego’s, forget that myth, my boys could sit for hours and hours to build and imagine.
However, for our toddlers, they do love a box. Here is one example with a simple box: Place the box on some newspapers outside, get out your safe, (water based) poster paints, and let them have fun!
Since I was always financially strapped (broke!), I could rarely afford a new toy for my own kids. I relied on relatives and friends to come through for their birthdays, special events and holidays. Our society is all about “instant gratification,” so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that our kids feel the same way too. They are taught through observation and examples.
The best answer for toys should be: Their own imagination. Take the box for example, they can paint it to hold bouncing balls or other toys. They can turn them upside down to form a train and get as many as your yard has space for that one. My daycare kids had eleven medium size boxes, that turned into trains, forts, caves, hiding places, storage for dinosaurs, and boxes to sit on. Some of them were painted, some were plain. However, this was just a tool for their imagination and creativity. A simple box.
Another fun activity was “rock painting.” Kids loved coming outside to search and hunt for their “special” rock. Once they found it, we all put on our aprons or old t-shirts and painted them. Each of the kids took their rock home, to put into their own gardens, or by their front door. Years ago, I was invited to a birthday party for one of my daycare kids. The little girl was so proud of her collection, she had over twenty rocks all decorated and placed in her own”rock garden” with a hand painted sign her parent made. It’s really these little things that create so much fun for a child.
If you have a space to push a tack in, or a tree, then you can hang a paper plate. Another fun project was painting, coloring, glitter and gluing anything on a paper plate! With a piece of colorful ribbon, I tied their plates on our trees in the back yard, ready for them to take home at the end of the day. In the meantime, the kids loved running, playing and enjoying the day while their plates were spinning in the wind, very proud of their artwork.
It doesn’t take a ton of money to have fun with your kids. Sometimes parents have to pull out their own imagination and creative ideas, to remember what it was like to be a child. This is the time to get involved and take a positive approach to help develop your child’s creativity. I am not a big fan of pre-defined toys, I truly feel it limits a young child’s ability to be inventive.
Share with them an idea, that will help nurture their imagination, fuel their self esteem, and give them joy. Creativity should be fun.
Sometimes the most simple things in life can turn into the most creative endeavors, ever to be imagined!
For more information you can also go to Homedaycare4You.com
Article by Laurie Cesario-Overton