The Toy Situation

I’ve been reading a lot of Imperfect Homemaking lately.  I find her completely inspirational. Kelly is the mom of 5, 5 and under; the youngest two are twins! She crafts, organizes and loves Jesus. She says she keeps her house about 70% clean  about 70% of the time–I love that, and can relate to her on so many levels. Did I mention she’s inspiring?

Look what I made time to do today: 

 I’ve been meaning to make toy bin labels for oh, about a year. Or longer. I had labels on some stuff in the form of jotted notes on scratch paper jammed haphazardly in the pocket of some of the toy bins, or a sample of the contents in the pocket; but didn’t never made time to make it pretty. Plus, not everything had a label, and as Kelly says, “A basket without a label will soon be a catch all for anything and everything.” (even though I used quotes, that’s just an approximation of what she says, but the concept is there.)

Aviana asked me what I was doing.
 I asked her what it looked like I was doing.
She replied, “Making labels to organize the toy bins.”
I told her, “Exactly.”
She responded, “I don’t think that’s going to help.”

Well, I hope it does. A mama can dream, right?

Besides making the labels, I emptied out the “toy box” in the living room, finding an amazing amount of missing pieces to many many different sets of toys. Including a single dart for Cadrian’s dart gun. I love making that boy happy!  
The  toy box is just supposed to be for a few large trucks and Magnadoodles and a few of Denton’s big toys that don’t fit on the shelves, but it doesn’t have a label 🙂 so it quickly becomes a catchall for everything that gets picked up from the living room floor.
 I’d rather have them in the toy box than on the living room floor. Or under the couch. Or behind the couch.

The black and white labels are a free printable from Lily Jane Stationary and the color ones I just made by finding a picture of what I needed from Google images and using Publisher. You can make the photos bigger by clicking on them.

And because I’m always curious about things like this, here are a  few details:
 The first picture is in the kitchen, where I supervised Aviana making cookies (which I didn’t do very well apparently, since she misread 2 1/3 cups of flour as 2/3 of a cup–that first batch  of cookies was rather flat), and frequently interacting with the boys.

The next two pictures are the toys. This is basically all the toys we own. I didn’t take pictures of the train table, or the dress up area, or the aforementioned toy box. We also have a tote of wooden blocks and another of Duplos. The girls each have a couple of dolls and some clothes for them.

The middle picture is in Cadrian’s room. His room is on the first floor, off the living room so it is also a convenient play area. In the cabinet below is the Animal Train, some big wooden cars and trucks, and the Wedgits.

The last picture is in the family room upstairs. The top drawer locks (and in fact won’t stay shut unless it’s locked) and holds DVDs and VHS. Yes, we still have VHS. They’ re only $.25 at library sales :-D.

The bottom drawer has a shape sorter and a bunch of upcycled water bottles with colored and/or glitter water (lids glued on) that I made for Toddler Bowling when Aviana was about 18 months. I can’t believe how those things have lasted, and how they remain a favorite toy, and how they are never, ever used for Toddler Bowling.

Our toy philosophy is open ended, imagination based play. We like wood and God made materials whenever possible.  We like the idea of less is more. If a toy isn’t being played with or asked for, or it’s just dumped on the floor repeatedly and walked away from, we donate it. I have a hard time with this especially if the toy was a gift or I bought it new. Toys should be an asset to children’s play, not play for them or direct their play. Play is the work of the child. We believe our home should enhance the imagination and fantasy of the child. (This is essentially the Waldorf philosophy of education.)

It’s sad to me how children aren’t playing any more–evidence to me of this is the example of Tinker Toys. We have a new set and a vintage set. The new set is marketed to preschoolers. They’ve changed the diameter of the ‘sticks’ and of course, lessened the complexity of the projects. Our vintage set was marketed to ‘tweens’. My guess is that most tweens aren’t playing with Tinker Toys anymore, but are playing with electronics. I think this is a grave disservice we’re doing to our children. Tweens are still very much CHILDREN and should be PLAYING.

Play nourishes children, and the toy situation should keep their imagination flourishing so they can grow to be healthy, creative, well rounded adults.

2 thoughts on “The Toy Situation

  1. Thank you so much for sharing how you used my toy bin tags, Jessica! I love what you did with them. And I completely agree with you concerning open ended, imagination based play – it's definitely the best. Thanks, again!

  2. I share your toy philosophy but not your optimism on labels (in my house)! 😉 I want my kids to p l a y and use their imagination without electricity or clutter… Yours sure look happy! Love the boy dressed by his sisters – that happens often here! Thanks for the smiles and inspiration to get to the bottom of the toy basket.

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