We all know these toys — one press of a button and they entertain with flashing lights and music. But what about the imagination? More and more parents are choosing to limit flashy/beeping/screens to a moderate amount (not zero but not hours upon hours), and are pushing for the toys of the “good ol’ days,” ones that provoke the imagination. There’s the notion that it is not about the amount or toys, but rather the quality of what you have.
Not only is it beneficial in more ways than one for the children — more exercise, creativity, and social skills used — but it’s also beneficial for the parents — less clean up, fewer batteries to buy and less upkeep. That’s a win-win in anyone’s book!
Without further ado, here are some suggestions for some awesome Christmas toys!
Good for playing with by yourself or in a group! Completely portable, and works those creativity muscles, fine motor skills, and/or social skills! Knock it down and start over on something completely different as much as your heart desires. Scalable with other blocks, and doesn’t require batteries!
2. Outdoor play equipment
Whether you spend thousands on a brand-new cedar Rainbow play station with multiple swings, $100 on a a trampoline, or a $3 on a second-hand tricycle from a garage sale, there are many options for outdoor-oriented gifts. Give them an opportunity to develop those gross and fine motor skills … and burn off that excess energy! Let them soak up the vitamin D to ward off/fight autoimmune disorders, and breathe some fresh air. Many feel outside time is good for the mind and soul, and study after study consistently shows that “green time” (aka going outside) can even provide some relief for ADHD symptoms. The Great Outdoors need not be fancy — it can be as simple as opening your door and keeping an eye on your kids.
Similar to blocks in boosting creativity and (potentially) social skills! Art supplies have had an overhaul since we were wee, though certainly the basic 8-pack crayon box and paper are awesome enough in themselves. If you have a chance, go to the toy store and take a minute to marvel at all the possibilities they offer now, such as 3D globes that project artwork on the wall. Cool stuff!
4. Basic, no-frills dolls
(Yes, for boys and girls). Let your kids get some good story-telling skills by playing with dolls. This may enhance creativity, social, logic, and language skills.
5. Fort equipment
All the advantages of blocks and a doll house/play table, but on a larger scale. Let the kids build, honing creativity and dexterity skills … then add in creative story-telling and play-acting. Can’t go wrong with that.
6. Pail, shovel, net, and magnifying glass
Encourage your children’s natural curiosity by giving them some basic science/exploration tools that can be used in all types of weather and places.
Certainly, last but not least are books. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that a good book can be one of the most wonderful things in the world. Let your children peer into other worlds, made entirely by an author’s creativity and inhabited by their own. Reading can help us gain empathy as we virtually walk in another’s footsteps. It can teach us things we don’t know, it opens up doors to things that may interest us that we never knew existed, it will enrich us with creativity … books are just awesome! If you have a choice, try and get the books in hard copy (whether paperback or hardcover) instead of digital editions to further enhance the reading experience!
What basic toys would you or your kids add to our list? Share your picks in the comments.