I have toy rules.
Because with 9 children in and out of my home (1 of my own + 8 joining us for preschool classes and/or care during the week), my home could easily be overrun with toys.
I run a household.
I take care of & teach children.
I do not run a toystore or a toy “dump”.
I don’t want the toys on the floor to take over my home or stop children from truly “playing”.
My home will get messy…but it should be with toys that children USE and enjoy!
I’ve found that children do not play well when:
1) Toys are not age appropriate
2) Toys do not allow children to learn or imagine
3) There are too many toys out at once
When this happens, children often switch into “dump and run” mode. They only touch toys to dump them off the toy shelf, rip the pieces apart, and/or throw them across the room.
Not worth it.
I want to surround children with items that encourage cooperative play, creativity, and independent learning.
Because of this, I have developed guidelines to monitor toy purchases and toy accessibility.
Today I will focus on the types of toys I look for. Later this week, I will post about access to toys in my home.
Types of Toys
Cheap toys often break quickly and need to be replaced. Or they do not function as well as higher quality counterparts.
Toys that last & work well will save money in the long run, because they won’t need to be replaced.
A few high-quality items are better than a pile of toys that break quickly.
Last Christmas, we gave Tiny One a beautiful wooden push cart (I meticulously researched to find the “best” one), and a few smaller carefully chosen items. She had a BLAST and every toy has been used all year long.
Quality trumps quantity.
Toys must be durable. I love wooden toys, but there are some great plastic toys as well.
Play with toys and/or read reviews before purchasing.
If a toy might break within two years, do not buy it.
I like to find toys that will last at least 5 years. Even if Tiny One outgrows it, a sturdy toy can be re-sold or given to someone else to enjoy. Bonus!
Sturdy play food over cardboard play food. A wooden ride-on toy instead of a flimsy plastic one. You get the idea.
Toys must allow for some creativity. Blocks, legos, dolls, play-dough, balls, cars, etc.
I avoid TV/movie themed items & toys that only do one thing. There is nothing inherently wrong with these things…they just don’t allow kids to create. Character toys and toys that serve only one purpose are already defined.
Open-ended toys allow children to constantly redefine what they are. They naturally grow with your child’s interests.
Kids won’t outgrow legos for a long time, but a “Spongebob” addiction may only last a year…or a month.
4) Multiple Ages & Stages.
Toys that can grow with your child and be used with multiple ages at the same time (siblings, friends, etc.) are well worth it.
For example, alphabet blocks can help infants develop fine motor skills. Toddlers can use them to practice stacking, learn colors, and introduce the abc’s. Preschoolers can use the blocks for pretend play and for number/letter recognition. Older children may use alphabet blocks to practice their spelling or play games they make up.
Obviously, this won’t work for every toy, but it’s good to keep in mind.
There were some toys I just “had to have” for Tiny One…until I realized she would likely outgrow them within a few months!
Not worth it.
Well there you have it. Four rules to govern the types of toys I let into my home. There are exceptions to every rule, but I do my best to follow them closely.
Surrounding children with carefully chosen toys, instead of a random pile, will increase quality playtime & avoid “dump and run” sessions.
“Part II – Access to Toys” will come later! 🙂
What rules do YOU have for toys?