Know what I hate?

**Before I start my rant, know that you can be my philosophical opposite and we can still be friends. Know that I make my choices based on what I feel is best for my family, and has God’s stamp of approval. If my choice is different than your choice, that doesn’t mean I think you’re wrong, or I’m judging you somehow. The beauty of God is He made us all different and unique.**

Know what I hate?

I hate plastic toys.
I hate toys with batteries.
I hate so called “educational toys”.
I hate licensed characters, like Dora or Disney on toys and clothing.

We feel that activities we do with our children for the most part should have some educational value. We believe that children want to be able to ‘do it myself’. We want to allow our children to fully participate in the daily life of the family. We want to provide open ended experiences; unstructured activities that allow their creativity to blossom and their problem solving skills to develop.

Studies are proving what I’ve felt in my gut all along. One study in 2007 looked at 12,500 children at ages six months, 18, 30, and 42 months. They determined that one-to-one interaction and outings to the store or to parks have a greater and long-term impact on development of a child than did educational toys such as pre-school computers and electronic activity boards.

This from Time magazine in 1964: “Many so-called educational toys are mediocre gadgets whose makers hope to cash in on the wave of interest in early childhood education.”

NO real surprise to me. But let’s spend more money on plastic, just in case they are wrong.

A few well thought-out purchases of open-ended toys and of course books are really all a baby or child needs. Oh, and time with you. Lots and lots of time with you.

Now this is not to say I have a plastic free home. We have been given several toys that blink and plink and light up when their buttons are pushed. I bought a LeapPad when Aviana was a baby, because, all the cool babies had them; I didn’t want her to be outdone by her peers. Silly me. I’m smarter now.

But you know what toys my kids like best? Toys that allow them to use their imagination. Toys that can be used for many different purposes. Toys that grow with my child to a certain extent. Toys that challenge them to think. Toys that encourage discovery.

Aviana carries her Magna-doodle around with her every where and Brielle follows suit. Aviana likes building with her daddy’s old Tinkertoys, and Brielle likes the Mega-blocks. They love their puzzles. They love Wedgits. They love to cut and paste and create “prodjets”. Aviana is starting to be able to sew, using a plastic grid, or bits of felt. They love to be read to. We read a lot. A loh-ot. They love their dress up clothes. Of course they also love to be naked, but that doesn’t really fit with this post.

One of the biggest things I hate is that you can’t really find a lot of good quality, open ended toys at Wal-mart, Target, Toys-r-us… you have to shop online. I recommend For Small Hands and Mindware. Do you have a go-to store for your favorite toys?

But you know what my kids like even better than all the high quality, open-ended, imagination boosting toys in the world? My stuff.

10 thoughts on “Know what I hate?

  1. Hey, such an early comment makes me look like a stalker. When in fact I’m waiting for Not Me Monday at MckMama’s so… that’s why my Google Ready was sitting open.

    Yesterday we were Christmas shopping when Oceana saw a (rickety plastic) piano for sale. She loved it (the sound wasn’t even on yet!) and I could see the wheels turning in my husbands head.

    My reason for not wanting to buy it when we finally got out of the store were that it looked rickety (I thought she was going to break the stool right then and there) and that it was a noisy toy. I don’t think DH appreciate the quiet like he should – sooner there will be a newborn in the mix and a plinky piano is not my list of things to get. I gave the drum kit more thought than the piano.

    But your post puts it perfectly. I’ve been wanting to get her (what I term) educational toys for Christmas. And my educational – I meant more like Montessori gear than the talk-to-me-attention-grabbing things called ed toys.

    I want her mind to blossom, not be entertained! She loves her dolls, legos, and her tea set. This is w/o encouragement. It’s just what she likes! She’s getting a play kitchen for Christmas, and I like that idea. I know she will play with it for hours.

    I do have to give my hubby two thumbs up for the tent/tunnel thing he bought for Christmas. That’s a playhouse for years to come (though bedsheets and chairs work too!). But I’m not into flashy noisy toys. I think they’re annoying. I don’t think they teach anything.

    I’d rather make shapes with bread dough than have a computer teach her shapes.

    And I agree – she loves my stuff best. Why do 2 year old loves lipstick and nailpolish SO MUCH!??!

  2. I bought a box of wedgits. I didn’t know what they were but they look familiar like something we played with when we were young. They are for Christmas so I don’t know if they will like them yet. I’m with you I just can’t seem to stick with non-battery operated toys. My kids are getting older so it is a little easier but they are also getting more into the electronics which just gets more expensive. We plan on doing lots of craft supplies this year because our two youngest have started getting really into that kind of stuff. I agree on the selection at the chain stores. We have a couple of private toy stores around us that are so cool (just really expensive). I have bought a lot of stuff at Michaels and Hobby Lobby this year (with the 40% off coupons). My 5 year old daughter has moved up to the big girl size and it is impossible to find clothes that don’t have Hannah Montanna or High School Musical on them. We let her get one but seriously enough is enough. Good post it’s time somebody said it.

  3. Oh yes, mommy’s stuff is way more interesting around here too ;). I have to say the one toy that my son got for his birthday this year that he truly loves is a shape sorter. It doesn’t flash or play music or anything. He will sit and put the shapes in and take them out for a long time. It’s a more complicated shape sorter. It has the regular shapes, but then also animal shapes and a key too so it’s something he’ll get use out of for years to come I’m sure. And his PT definitely encourages him to use it too.

  4. Totally. My kids are ALL OVER my stuff. So much more exciting!

    Now that Judah is getting older I have been able to go into the garage and pull out some of the great thinking toys we have. Of course, Eliza crawls all over them and Judah, which causes much frustration. But hey, what goes around comes around 🙂 He did the same thing to Eve.

    We don’t do electronic toys, though we do have a few. I’m not into the all wooden toy trend because it’s not feasible or even all that great. What we have is a collection of great toys that make my children USE their imaginations. So much fun to watch/hear them PLAY.

    And of course, there is always outside where sticks and rocks and grass and leaves come ALIVE.


  5. i could say a lot of things, but, i’ll just say, i completely agree!! and, grandparents seem to be SO excited about the crappy “educational” toys- ESP electronic ones! they are total crap, i’m sure some aren’t but…. ahem.


  6. “…they also love to be naked, but that doesn’t really fit with this post.”

    [LAUGHING!!!!] Oh my, that cracked me up. I so want my kids. Even if they do prefer my stuff to toys.

    Of course, we’ve got quite a few Legos, so I hope that keeps ’em occupied [smile].


  7. You’re so right. There are few good quality (not plastic), open-ended toys (that let you do more than one thing) around…the best things are wood blocks, Tinkertoys, crayons, cardboard boxes, balls…yeah, I’m not buying much this year, going to bake lots instead.

  8. My kids are the same way. They like MY stuff way better than any toy. And I def. agree with you about the toys with batteries. They are SO obnoxious. Sometimes I don’t let my kids know that the toy is supposed to even do anything…is that bad?!=)

  9. Catching up with my google reader today…
    Love this post. I whole-heartedly agree. 🙂
    When my kids were making out their "wish list" this year, I let them look at 4 catalogs: HearthSong, Leaps and Bounds, Mindware, & Highlights for Children. The # 1 item on my 6 year old's list is a "non stop top", and my 4 year old is hoping for a hand crank flashlight.
    I am really excited that this will be our first Christmas without Wal*art or Target. Yay!

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