Taryn's Toy Philosophy

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Part of me wishes I could tell you that my toy shelves are filled with nothing but European, handmade wooden blocks, dolls knitted with wool from sheep raised on sustainable farms, and absolutely no electronic toys because we all know those toys play themselves and damage our children's imaginations and their souls.  But that part of me is pretty small, a little bit pretentious and usually overruled by the pragmatic side that  believes in moderation in most things- including toy pricing.

                                                       Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, picture by Hilary Knight

By design and necessity, I am selective about toys that I purchase.  I think that most people understand dealing with resource and space limitations and practical concerns about toy creep, when your toy collection creeps beyond the playroom and gradually overtakes every spare inch of closet space.  Here are some guiding principles I use to help control the craziness:

Open ended.  If I'm going to spend more than a nominal amount of money on a toy, it needs to allow for open ended play.  Think Legos, Magnatiles, play food- toys that can be used in many ways, by many ages, and require imagination.  Most of the toys that we own fall into this category.  Some of our favorites are pretty much any Grimm block set, these giant soft building blocks,  any and all Legos, and a more recent fascination- WEDGiTS.
Enough.  To get the most utility out of a toy or set of toys, you need to have what I've heard described as a critical mass.  You can build a few fun things with 50 Legos but many, many more with 500.  The trick is figuring out how many of a specific toy you need to be able to build really neat stuff and when that number crosses the threshold into wasted money and storage.  

Rotate. I live in a small house and have a set amount of space dedicated to toys.  When the toys exceed that space, I move them.  Either to a box headed to the Salvation Army or into the attic.  When a toy hasn't been played with in a while, I box it up, put it in the attic and, if it's still age appropriate, trade it out for another toy in a few months.  It feels like a new toy to my kids, lasts longer, and helps contain toy creep.  Win, win, win.

Fun.  More than anything else, toys are made to be fun.  Sometimes I fall into the trap of buying toys that, if I'm honest, are more about me than my kids.  Toys that I want my kids to play with because I think they're trendy or would look good in an Instagram photo, and that my children often end up having limited interest in.  So sometimes, even though it's not my favorite, we end up with a dozen Spiderman action figures.  Or a Superman action figure that is 3 feet tall and my son insists on taking to the park and pushing in the swing.  Because that is what my kids are into and this is really all about them.  

Curating a fabulous toy collection takes some planning and effort- but given the seemingly universal consensus that play is hugely beneficial to children and they are overwhelmingly not doing enough of it, I think it's time well spent.


Post a Comment


© Tee & Penguin All rights reserved . Design by Blog Milk Powered by Blogger