Thoughts on Toys and Playtime

What are the best toys for children? The most enjoyable? The ones that hold a child’s attention the longest and make the best memories? As I think about that question, I think about one childhood which I happen to be an expert on—mine!

What are your favorite memories of playtime as a child? One of mine is of playing “restaurant” with my next-door neighbor, Christy Belcher. Mud, of course, was chocolate cake, grass was green beans, rocks were baked potatoes, crunchy leaves were chips while green leaves were paper money, and rose petals (Sorry, Mom!) were strawberries. I also loved playing kickball in the street with the neighborhood kids, “statues” or “tag” in one of our back yards, or the spontaneous water fights we had where all the neighborhood kids ganged up on Tom Coil, the single firefighter who lived two doors down from me. My brother and I enjoyed turning our bedroom into a roller-skating rink (Yeah, my parents were laid-back—thanks Mom and Dad!) or our bunk beds into apartments. When I think about it all, I almost wish I could go back and enjoy those days again.

Did you notice that all of my favorite memories involved next to nothing by way of material goods? And, probably, your favorite memories are similar to mine. All the glittery, high-tech stuff that lines the toy aisles is not nearly as entertaining as the little-bit-of-nothing my best memories are made of.

So, what makes for good playtime? I think the best toys are ones that have limitless options for creativity or “transformations.” For instance, a piece of paper or a lump of play dough can be transformed into a million different things, limited only by a child’s imagination.

Here are the kinds of toys that helped me make the best memories as a child and ones that my own children enjoy:

  • Art stuff: construction paper, scissors, markers and crayons, felt, pipe cleaners, glue, glitter, googly eyes, paint, empty toilet paper rolls, etc. I keep all these supplies in a large bin along with a plastic tablecloth, which I use to cover the kitchen table whenever the kids are working on art.
  • Play dough (add cookie cutters, plastic knives, etc.)
  • Building/ construction stuff: Legos, Tinker Toys, blocks, etc.
  • Dramatic play items: costumes, dishes, kitchen sets, dolls, etc. We’ve contributed old phones, an old keyboard, etc.
  • Outdoor gear: bikes, balls, buckets, shovels, etc.

Speaking of outside toys, there’s no better play place than the great outdoors. There are so many wonderful natural materials to play with: mud, leaves, rocks, sand, water, etc. Purposely put your kids in play clothes and be willing to let them get messy!

If your kids aren’t used to being creative and don’t know what to do at first, get them started. Sit with them and start making or building something—maybe something you remember that you enjoyed creating as a child. Before long, your kids will catch on and will come up with ideas of their own. When you’re outside with them, help them mix up the mud. Teach them the games you enjoyed as a child. Play with them! After all, if you’re longing to go back and enjoy those simpler days, there’s one way to do it: Enjoy them with your children!

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Published in: on March 10, 2009 at 4:19 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] Here is the original: Thoughts on Toys and Playtime « Ruminations on Faith and Family […]

  2. Addy, this is a great post. My best memories from childhood are of playing outside with friends, or playing “pretend” on my own. I hope to encourage that in my kids when they get older!
    -L


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