Don’t worry. This isn’t one of those posts that goes on and on about how you HAVE to buy wooden and natural toys and how all plastic toys are bad, bad, bad. Okay, well maybe there is a hint of that, but really I just had to share my fascination and complete surprise over the popularity of a truly simple toy that entered our semi natural home this year and how it reminds me that simplicity and toys go very well together.
To squash all ideas that I have ALL natural toys in my home, I would like to assure everyone that there are plenty of plastic toys to be found in our abode. We actually have two small bins of miscellaneous plastic crap that I like to believe accumulates in everybody’s house. Then we have nicer plastic items, many purchased second hand, ranging from an educational cash register to a huge box of animals and the beloved Strawberry Cafe and even Diego’s Tree House. So as you continue to read this, know that I go for balance over zealousness.
The simple toys that I have seen playing more roles in our house than any other? The Pegs and Cups. Who would of thought, right? Even when I was purchasing this item from Urbanhomesteaders on Etsy, I was thinking, “Am I just throwing 15 bucks away?” Well, while they obviously weren’t the highlight of Christmas morning, they have served more roles in playtime than you can imagine. And I have no doubt they have a lot more roles to play.
These little pegs and cups have been used for simple sorting and color matching, they have been friends of the gnomes and a family all on their own, they have been nail polish, perfume, a million other sprayers and creams used in a variety of scenarios and as you can tell in some photos, even the dog found a way to love this natural toy (the kids could care less that one is chewed and obviously it was not purchased in that condition). I have found these little cups in the play kitchen, in doctor kits, in dollhouses, spread out on tables and well, everywhere. Smaller children come in to the house and immediately start to put pegs in and out of cups.
I often reflect now on what makes these toys and similar ones we have that are timelessly popular so much fun and I think it is the fact that they are so very simple. There is no flashing light or strange sound confusing the situation. These toys are only what the child’s imagination wants them to be and this gives a sense of accomplishment that makes for happy confident children. Curious by nature, children presented with a clean slate can make great things happen. Don’t believe it? Just give them a blank piece of paper and see what they can create.
I try to be conscientious of the items I place in the play area. Again, balance over zealousness. When looking at a toy I often ask myself, does this toy encourage imagination? Will my child interact with this toy or will the toy interact with my child? Then I move down the list of can I buy it used or is there a natural alternative to this item. The more a toy does, the less a child must do; keep your toys simple and set your child’s mind free.
I would love to see some of your favorite toys and hear about what makes them popular at your house.