When children are happy to play with boxes and wrapping paper, sticks and mud, it’s easy to think why even bother with toys? But play at its finest is the combination of the everyday and toys.
Babies can be interested in radiator nozzles, switches on the washing machine, electrical sockets and car tyres, so it can be extremely hard to find the time to provide safe, satisfying, inspirational activities that fulfil the interest of our children as they follow their play pathways.
But how great is it that we can observe their play and then provide a toy or game that will enhance and inspire their creativity? How wonderful that someone else has done the research and rigorous testing so that these toys are relatively risk free. It means that along with the going out to work, making sure we have food to eat, keeping our homes clean, making sure the paper goes in the brown bin and not the blue, booking the car in for its MOT, you don’t then also have to go to the bottom of the garden and whittle wooden blocks from the tree for our children to play with!
If you have time to create home-made activities, that is of course wonderful, but even these activities can have safety limitations. I think the trick is in combining natural objects, everyday objects and toys into the play of our little ones.
Play is an aeroplane made from lego, landing on that hand drawn runway on the blank side of some old wallpaper roll. Play is using cars and emergency vehicles from the car basket, buildings created from the construction bricks, passengers drawn by the children and cut out, along with signs and labels. What a wonderful afternoon of play that will take days to create and enjoy.
This is play.
This is what toys are for.