“Our Children no longer learn how to read the great book of Nature from their own direct experience, or how to interact creatively with the seasonal transformations of the planet. They seldom learn where their water come from or where it goes.”
~~ Wendell Berry
When I became a grandmother I visited yard sales and thrift shops looking for a few toys I could store in a box to pull out when the children visited. I didn’t have a lot, I’d say about a dozen, and none that used batteries. It wasn’t long before I passed on those toys because the children wanted to feel grown up and play with adult things.
When I moved in the farmhouse to be closer to my youngest son and his family, I was dismayed to find a box of toys my son had already brought to my new home for his children to play with when visiting. I’m slowly giving back many of them or passing them on because the children don’t want to play with them, they want to act grown up and weather permitting, play outside exploring.
In the warm months, the children want to be outside. They love running through the yard, swinging from a rope in the tree or helping with the gardens. In the colder months, they want to create and play with me.
The children also love learning about the insects and other animals outside. One granddaughter regularly finds butterflies will sit still and let her pick them up, the other granddaughter names every butterfly that she sees.
Rolly Pollies at Little Guys favorite bug to find but so are caterpillars and worms. Here he is collecting worms around the slide and carrying them over to the watermelon bed where he then announced he was my helper and was making the watermelons grow better.
The photos aren’t the best as I was trying to zoom in with my phone.
While it’s not possible for a parent to give their children one-on-one attention 24/7 as I can do when having the children here for a few hours, or a couple of days, children still prefer more grown up activities to the majority of toys sold expressly for them.
That said I do believe children should have some toys. I try to limit the toys to games and items that will spark their creativity. Some examples are: a baby doll, a ball and cars, regardless of gender. Dice and cardboard boxes will entertain them for hours and take up very little space.
Children love pillows and blankets which when not there for comfort will be used to build tents. Imaginative play is the most important activity for small children to experience for development, in my opinion, not as some would have us believe those toys advertised to aid development.
When the children are here they pull out pots and pans, board games and like to help with work around the house, even the two-year old can help prepare meals or load a dishwasher.
Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed
When we emptied the large cabinet I use as a pantry the then one year old wanted to help. I hesitated because of the glass doors but then let him help. You’ve never seen such pride as he picked up a box or jar and carried it across the kitchen where he stretched as hard as he could to put the container on the counter by himself.
When the children go home I take the measuring cups and spoons and any pans they removed and return them to the kitchen. To save water I usually wait to wash the pans until they are needed to prepare a meal.
Children used to play along side the adults as they worked and when old enough would ask to work with the adults. Today we shoo children off to get our work done faster and both the children and adults miss out on experiences that would make the work more enjoyable.
One of those toys that was left here on move in day was a shape sorter. My grandson refused to play with it yet when he visited one of the first toys he would play with was a Connect Four game, go figure.
But most of all I would let them make their own toys and just play. You never know what will inspire them next. Join the fun and you could find yourself having a lovely afternoon.
Things don’t really impress me. Memories impress me. It’s not the toys it’s the people.