Toys have a tendency to accumulate at a rapid pace. To make matters worse, many children’s toys interest them for only a short time before they become dust-collectors. One way to combat both the clutter and the frustration of unused toys is to choose toys that support open-ended play and that adapt to your child’s needs as they progress through various developmental stages.
Here are some categories of toys that stand the test of time.
Building toys, provided the pieces are large enough that they aren’t a choking hazard, can be enjoyed even by children who are just beginning to play. For instance, a sitting baby may be entertained by examining large Lego bricks, and then have a blast putting them in a large basket, dumping them out, and repeating. As Baby grows, they'll learn to stack them on top of one another. Eventually, as your child’s imagination develops, they'll make purposeful constructions. Building toys also allow for collaborative play with other children or adults, which fosters social and communication skills along with the hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, and other learning that’s occurring simultaneously.
Legos, wooden blocks, train tracks, and magnetic tiles are all excellent building toys.
Dress-up and role-playing toys
Dress-up clothes and accessories may not be useful until your child is approaching the age of two, but they will get used for several years. From playing doctor with an oversized white coat to donning the tiger costume from the consignment sale in the school’s book parade, your child will get a lot of mileage out of any dress-up toys you invest in. A good time to add to the dress-up stash is after Halloween, when costumes are on clearance.
In addition to costumes, toys like toy cash registers, play kitchens, doll houses and the like also offer opportunities for creative play.
Similar to building toys, dress-up and role play lend themselves well to playing with others, expanding imagination, and practicing communication and language skills. Role-playing encourages the growth of emotional and cognitive literacy and even helps children practice empathy.
Another creative activity that engages and enriches children of all ages is art. From the first colorful scribbles made with a chubby crayon to an exploration of color-mixing through watercolors, creating art provides children with opportunities for self-expression, improving manual dexterity, and dabbling in science. Producing a work of art and the attendant praise from you and others boosts their self-confidence as well.
Consider purchasing age-appropriate art supplies, such as paint containers with lids and washable markers. But don’t scrimp on quality; a waxy crayon that leaves a pale mark is far less exciting than the crayon that glides easily over the page, leaving a rich and vibrant trail of color.
Toys that support open-ended, imaginative play are a sound investment and will get used again and again as they provide years of fun for both the children you have now and those you might add to your family in the future.
About the author:
Shifrah lives in Tallahasse, FL with her husband, four children, two cats, and dog. In the midst of mothering and writing, she enjoys reading, lifestyle photography, sewing, going to the beach, and documenting it all in pocket scrapbooks. She drinks her coffee black.