a guide to choosing & gifting timeless toys
BY ELEANOR OZICH
Children are experts when it comes to simplicity, they experience the world with a sense of openness, creativity and wonder, often only needing the simplest of toys to inspire them.
Growing up, my sister and I had a basic selection of things to play with. There were dolls and soft toys, a big box filled with dress ups, and plenty of books to read. As we got older, our collection included scrapbooks and board games. I have fond memories of spending hours on end building houses out of cardboard boxes, and adventuring outside in the garden.
This kind of creative and imaginary play is something I don’t see as often these days, I have a niggly feeling that increased screen time and electronic toys are to blame. Fancy things with flashing lights can be entertaining for a little while, I must admit, although I truly believe that nothing unleashes the imagination more than simple, down to earth toys.
Now that I’m all grown up, and have three children of my own, I am beginning to know exactly what kind of toys keep my little one’s engaged. I have also learnt that too many options can easily become overwhelming and chaotic, leaving them dissatisfied and bored. Children don’t need masses of toys, in fact, the less toys you own, the more they are inspired to use their ingenuity.
I have come to learn that quality toys will stand the test of time through multiple children. Longer lasting toys mean far less purchases, and less purchases means a less cluttered home. It goes without saying that I use this same philosophy when purchasing toys as gifts.
Here’s a few classic toys that are practical, gender neutral, and will entertain a wide range of ages:
- Wooden blocks, puzzles and building toys such as duplo or lego. We keep a basket of each, often inspiring hours of entertainment and creativity.
- Wooden trucks, trains and matchbox cars are great, because with a little imagination, almost any surface can become a road or track.
- Miniature sized kitchen and home items, such as tea sets, cooking utensils and tool sets. Kids just love role playing, and these fun toys are perfect for reinforcing the importance of natural and healthy homemaking.
- A dress up box, filled with an array of costumes, pieces of fabric, old hats and ties. Most of these items can be found for next to nothing at your local second hand clothing shop or thrift store.
- A wide range of books, including fictional stories and non-fiction books about nature, wildlife and crafts. This is the one area I hesitate to declutter too haphazardly. Once your child learns to love the world of reading, their world will expand wondrously.
- Stuffed toys and dolls are always lovely, although for some reason, we seem to accumulate far too many. I often have a sort through these, every now and then as they take up the most space.
- Boards games are fantastic for learning how to follow instructions, take turns and also, to win and lose graciously. Monopoly is a family favourite, as well as classics like Scrabble and Guess Who.
- A well stocked arts and craft box is always appreciated. Our children spend hours on end getting creative with blank paper, felt tip pens, crayons, paints, glue and scissors. Old magazines, egg cartons, toilet roll tubes and string is another idea. The possibilities are endless, really. Even the simplest of things around the home can ignite creativity and imagination.
Thank you for sharing with us, Eleanor! We completely agree a few good quality toys that inspire the imagination are exactly what little ones need. xx Nb