Have you ever said, “My child seemed to like the box better than the toy that came in it!”??? If the toy requires very little interaction, chances are the toy will end up in the back of the closet or the bottom of the toy chest. The longevity of a toy really depends on how engaged your child is while playing with it. Vow this year to only choose engaging toys. Choose toys that require imagination, creativity, role-playing, physical interaction, and intellectual stimulation.
Often I hear, “My child loves space. They have everything space. That’s all they want.” Try to broaden your child’s interests. It’s okay to have passion for something—but be careful it does not become an obsession and an obstacle to learning and trying something new.
It is also important to not assume there are “boy” and “girl” toys. It is just as important for girls to play with blocks as it is for boys to play house.
Here is a short idea list, sorted by age groups, to get you started.
qMusic---singing, dancing, and playing. Choose CDs that have “kid friendly” music that encourages your child to sing and dance. Singing to music helps children learn about rhyming, rhythm, and can reinforce skills such as counting, colors, ABC’s, etc. Actually playing an instrument helps develop rhythm and fine or gross motor skills. Buy some rhythm sticks, cymbals, or a drum (and some aspirin) and let your child explore the world of music!
qPuzzles—the general rule is 10 pieces for every year old your child is. (ex. A typical three year old should be able to put together a 24-30 piece puzzle.)
qBlocks—A childhood “must have.” They can be wooden or cardboard (surprisingly durable). “Playing” with blocks helps your child build creativity, spatial/visualization skills, and gross motor skills.
qArts and Crafts—Another “must have toy” is an easel with paper and paint cups. This gives kids a “special” place they are allowed to paint or color and will help limit the mess. During nice weather days, put the easel outside. Sidewalk chalk and finger paint is another great choice to encourage beginning writing skills and creativity. Later, an easel can be used to “play school.”
qLacing— There are lots of great lacing toys on the market. Lacing helps kids develop fine motor skills, counting, and patterning skills.
qPuppets—Playing with puppets allows your child to develop their imagination as well as verbal skills.
qDress-up clothes—Again, playing dress-up encourages imaginative play and verbal skills.
qKitchen set with play food. Boys and girls alike will love playing “house.” Verbal skills and role playing are two very important skills needed to be successful in school .
qOutdoor Toys—Balls, bats, bubbles, tumble mat, bikes, sleds, etc. There is much discussion about obesity in our children. Let’s give them a reason to get outside and move!
qCounting/Patterning Toys—Toys that encourage counting, sorting, and patterning
qPuzzles—The general rule is 10 pieces for every year old your child is. (ex. A typical six year old should be able to put together a 48-100 piece puzzle.)
qArts and Crafts—Scrap-booking encourages journaling, creativity, and strengthens fine motor skills. Simple craft kits are always a hit. Kids can learn to sew and knit, paint by number, or make a clay pot. Kids will love a box of markers, crayons, paint, scissors, paper and clay.
qBoard Games—playing games encourages family time, learning to follow and abide by a set of rules, and the life lesson that you can’t always be a winner!
qPuppets---Kids can write a puppet show and put on a performance!
qMusical Instruments—buy some guitar or piano lessons (keyboard). Consider purchasing or renting an inexpensive instrument along with a few lessons. There is a tremendous amount of research that shows children who learn to play a musical instrument, have enhanced reading skills.
qBlocks—every child should have a nice set of blocks. They can be wooden or cardboard (surprisingly durable). “Playing” with blocks helps your child build creativity, spatial/visualization skills, and gross motor skills.
qKitchen set, play food,cash register, and play money—kids love to play restaurant or store—pick up a few “To Go” menus—or help kids set up a “store”—kids can practice writing and math while they ring up your order!
qOutdoor Toys—Balls, bats, jump ropes, bikes, sleds, etc. Encourage physical fitness and an interruption from the TV with fun things to do outside!
qThink Science! Simple science experiments, microscopes, telescopes, ant farms, magnifying glass, “spy” toys, etc.
q“Play Teacher” items---you can put together a cool box of “teacher” stuff so your school age child can “play school.” You can buy posters, pointers, chalkboard, plan books, and grade books—everything you need to help your child be the teacher. “Teaching” helps reinforce their understanding of concepts.
qMazes, word searches, crossword puzzles
qBuilding blocks (“Lego” type). Putting things together helps with visual-spatial skills which will help them with their math skills.
Today the national hue and cry is for the entrepreneurs of America to step up and create new jobs for an ailing economy. So far there has been plenty of demand but few tangible acts to coincide with the cry. Government does not create jobs. It is only capable of new job creation when a sufficient volume of new businesses have been established to support the regulation of them. The taxes generated, in theory, are suppose to provide the tax revenues to pay for the regulators. Without the businesses there is no need to regulate, since nothing would be around to regulate.
Unfortunately if the industry fails the regulatory jobs still exist but are paid for from "general funds" not industry specific funds. Today the need is for private job creation simply to maintain the existing governmental regulatory bodies.