One of the reasons why children get “bored” or “done” with toys is because they have always visualized or been told that a particular toy can only be played within a particular way.
Open-ended toys do not mean one needs to invest in new toys all the time, but making the best use of resources and toys at home. Believe it or not, I AM STINGY when it comes to purchasing new toys (or anything for that matter). Having a finance background, I will constantly use the cost versus benefit equation while making purchases. (Sometimes even for the smallest of things, which is why my brain is depleting faster than I thought ;))
My line of reasoning has drastically changed in the last 4 months. Even though I am trying to become more environmentally conscious, doesn’t mean I don’t own plastic toys or other non-sustainable products! Having said that, I am being more mindful of my future purchases.
Following in the footsteps of the West, typically children don’t need expansive toy rooms loaded with a gazillion products. One needs to simply invest in a “few” toys and create a sustainable play environment, at the same time think about reusing existing toys in several alternate ways.
In fact, when provided with fewer toys, toddlers engage in longer periods of play with 1-2 toys, allowing better focus on exploring and enhancing creativity. Research has also shown that children showed greater variety in the ways a toy can be used when there were fewer toys around them. It’s a simple case of less is more.
I am writing this because today something fun happened. My 5-year-old and I had just finished creating a Lego plane. Typically when a Lego figure is made, I leave him alone and he plays with it for a few minutes, and then the piece is displayed proudly on his top shelf (so his 3 yo sister won’t break it). Today, however, after leaving the room for the customary alone time with his Lego pieces, I walked in after a while and what did I see?!!
Voila! Out came the rainbow stacker and rainbow boards! The stacker was used as clouds and bridges, through which the planes were flying, and the boards were stacked high up vertically as a building which was a landing spot for the planes. Of course, within some time the planes crashed into the building and everything was scattered!
But I loved it. He combined a couple of scenarios and currently there are some serious sounds and noises coming from his room as his Lego planes are flying, crashing, singing, and God knows what not! 🙄
No batteries, plastic, Chinese products (except maybe Lego, not researched enough on it yet), chemicals, toxins, annoying songs or mom’s brains were harmed during this play-time 😉
While introducing open-ended toys to children, the following have been my observations:
- Put the new toys in front of the child, sit with them, and start exploring. If the child isn’t showing any interest, LET THEM BE. Do not forcefully shove a toy in their face (like I did) 😆 .
- The toys were so much fun, that eventually I indulged in them and started making figures of various shapes, size, and colors. NO CHILD WAS INTERESTED in me or my play.
- This happened a couple of times, though by now both the kids were intrigued by what I was doing. Not even once did I force or tell them to come and see what I was making. In fact I ignored them.
- The third or fourth time, they came around and started making something on their own. And I slowly (and thankfully) moved away from their playroom.
- I am sipping on my coffee while it’s still hot, and the children are busy playing on their own. For whatever little time, it’s worth it.
And I have a strong feeling, this little time will only grow bigger 😀
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