BY: SIGE GURU
Less is more, according to David Elkind. Elkind is a child development expert and author of the book, The Power of Play. He explains that children’s playthings have become more automated, made more of plastic and focuses on amusement rather than for imaginative inspiration. As parents, do you find yourself struggling in figuring out if the toys you are giving your children are what they really need or they are simply what they just want?
According to research, the best toys are the ones that are natural, unstructured and open-ended. Because young children learn best through hands-on experiences, these play materials or toys are not only inexpensive but they can easily be found anywhere. Most importantly, they develop your child’s well-being by enriching his or her imagination and creativity.
The best toys that every child should have are the following:
Sand play is not only relaxing but as children explores with it, they learn science concepts, build their fine motor skills (pour sand through a container, use a funnel), discover math concepts (volume, measurement), develop language skills (learn new words: funnel, shallow), and develop social skills (take turns using a shovel, work with a friend in the sand area).
Through blocks, children are able to develop their eye-hand coordination and develop their motor coordination by reaching, carrying and stacking these blocks. They are able to understand the concepts of: balance, weight, measurement and develop skills in sorting, classifying and predicting. Also, children feel a sense of accomplishment and develops patience and the value of sharing as they play with their peers.
Clay is a great sensory material for children. As it provides that tactile appeal, it enables children to develop their fine motor skills through molding, stretching, rolling, squeezing and flattening of the clay. It promotes creativity as well as develops a child’s language skills (narrates about what he is creating) and social skills as she plays with others.
Loose Parts (boards, crates, blankets, boxes, old grocery items)
Children learn to become more imaginative when left with loose parts. They are able to create stories and do make-believe play using these materials.
Arts & Crafts Materials (paint, different types of paper)
Art activities develops physical growth (children color, draw, paint, scribble) and foster both motor and hand-eye coordination. It also teaches children to follow rules in keeping their work space clean, putting back things when finished working and they learn to share with others, too. It also develops emotional growth as children express their feelings through art.
Natural elements (plants, garden)
Exposing children to nature contributes to their positive well-being. Research shows that when children spend time outdoors and experience nature, they develop focused attention and become less stressed.
My Personal Experience with the Best Toys
As both a teacher and a mom, I try my best to look for ways that I can incorporate these toys whenever I play with my daughter and with my nephews. Recently, we tried this fun arts and crafts activity, the SLIME.
The Slime Activity encourages children to explore with their bare hands the texture of the slime, and predict what will happen when one ingredient is combined with another. My nephews loved how they experience “magic” whenever they see how the slime changes its color and its size. They enjoyed touching it and stretching it. They didn’t mind that their clothes were getting dirty at all, they just kept on laughing as they felt the slime with their hands. J
Moms, I encourage you to make an inventory of your child’s toys. Start investing in those materials that will really do good to your child. Remember that toys should encourage children to imagine, to move, to invent, to explore and to problem solve.
So Sige Moms, what are you waiting for? Let your child play with the best toys with no costs at all!
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Herr, Judy. (1998). Working with Young Children. Illinois: The Goodheart-Willcox Company, Inc.