Next time you are throwing ted across the room scoring a straight hit in the toy box, while pulling the plastic tea pot from the wash basket, stepping on a book perfectly placed on a slippery surface so you experience the splits at an unexpected speed…remember it’s all in a good cause.
We all know the ‘end of play’ clear up. I can still see myself throwing toys into the wicker basket that got larger and larger as my family and their collection of toys grew over time.
It was the growth of my grandson’s toy box that got me thinking. My grandson is only fourteen months old and he has many loving family members and doting friends; they have spent quality time and hard earned money on products and toys, some of which, they remember playing with themselves. My grandson’s favourite toys change constantly, from wheels and cogs to tea sets. He’s also got his obligatory soft toy collection which he loves – they really play their part! He has formed a special bond with them that warms my heart when I see it – these soft toys are real to him.
All these toys are of great value, they have a role, they have a purpose. But there is a particular way that we can present the toys.
It’s okay for there to be mess, a jumble of toys, as our little ones play and choose and explore; independent play will lead them down many paths. But, if the blocks are in their box, on a high shelf and the cars are lost at the bottom of a basket, quality independent play will be more difficult…what a waste of an opportunity!
These toys need to be available to our children so that they can experience quality independent play. Displayed and stored so that they look attractive and inviting.
I think of play as a combination of supported activities and independent play. Having easy, safe access to selected toys and books is so important at all ages. My grandson needs to have his books where he can choose to look at them whenever he wants. His favourite wheeled toys can all be together in a basket that he can reach into and choose from. Later, when he is developing his ‘creating stories’ play, a road should be available and construction bricks to build with a town or bridge.
My idea of heaven would actually be to sort and re-categorise children’s playrooms, helping to organise and theme their little trays and baskets, creating little play games, explaining the learning outcomes.
Creating toy bundles, raising the status of toys.