By Mariel Uyquiengco
Providing the opportunity to play to their heart’s content is the best thing that parents can do for their children. While one’s environment should be enough for exploration, there are still educational toys for toddlers that parents must get their hands on.
If parents are going to spend money on toys for their kids, those that encourage imagination should be on the top of their list. Toys for creativity are actually enough for toddlers!
Author Idries Shah said in a book, “People used to play with toys. Now the toys play with them.” The best educational toys for toddlers – or for any age at all – are the ones that do not do anything unless a child does something to it.
Parents should avoid toys that buzz, light up, or play music by just pressing a button. Kids will soon wander away from such toys that have their own purpose, instead of being a vessel for their creativity.
Here are 5 toys that promote creativity and imagination in toddlers.
Wooden blocks are the quintessential toys for toddlers and preschoolers. It can be made into anything, depending on what a child has in his mind.
An infant as young as 10 months old can already enjoy a set of wooden blocks, provided that he does not bite into it. He can stack them up to make a tower and he can make it tumble down if he feels like it.
Preschoolers are notorious for building cities and castles with their wooden blocks. They can pair it with small dolls and cars and have a universe of their own.
Pretend play is an important part of childhood. It lets kids practice what they learn from their daily interaction with others, and it also allows them to create their own rules.
Costumes abound in department stores. However, these are mostly based on TV or movie characters such as the Disney princesses. While cute and instantly recognizable, parents must make the effort to provide non-specific costumes for their children. These will allow them to create their own characters.
Girls can twirl about in generic gowns and boys can rush towards enemies wearing a simple towel for a cape. Keeping costumes used in school performances is a good way to filling a child’s costume box. Neckties and scarves can do wonders for a child’s imagination too.
Children learn by imitating. They watch grown-ups how to do things and they try it in the safety of their pretend play. They love to play with life-like items that give them the chance to practice what they observe.
Kitchen sets, which can consist of just some pots, pans, and plates, are every child’s favorite. Parents will find that “investing” in a good kitchen set is worth it because of the cumulative time that a child spends playing with it.
Kitchen sets are also wonderful for encouraging group play. Invite your friends for play dates and let the kids cook up a storm. Of course, children are not limited to cooking, but will also come up with a menu, wash the dishes, and serve their customers!
Which child doesn’t like a doll? Though dolls now come with their own names and particular tricks, parents must be careful to choose simple dolls for their children.
Kids do not need talking or walking dolls. Dolls are meant to come alive through a child’s imagination. By giving voice to dolls, kids are able to practice their language skills and make their imagination healthy at the same time.
From infants to preschoolers, balls in different sizes can provide hours of fun. It is the ultimate toy that grows with a child.
A child, during infancy, follows a ball with her eyes. When she learns how to crawl, she crawls after it as it rolls away from her. When she begins to walk, she follows it around, until she is able to kick it.
As she grows to be a toddler and preschooler, that same ball can be used for basketball, soccer, and bowling games. Balls are wonderful as pretend viands, pretend ice cream, and pretend anything when kids play “cooking.”
Parents are always faced with a wide array of choices for the “best” things to give to their children. Careful consideration must be given to each toy that is bought.
A block is not just a block and a ball is not just a ball. When buying for toddlers, parents must look at a toy with their children’s eyes and see the potential in it. If it will dictate what a child should do with it, then it’s definitely not worth the precious space it will occupy in one’s home.
Mariel Uyquiengco hopes to inspire parents to be their children’s first and best teacher. She does this through her blog and online children’s book shop www.thelearningbasket.com and by giving parenting seminars about early childhood development, preschool homeschool, and raising children to be readers.