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What Types of Toys Support Healthy Play?

Our last blog entry addressed the question Why Is Quality Play So Important? Now that we’ve defined the essential character of quality play, let’s move on to explore What Types of Toys Support Healthy Play? The answer goes beyond my suggestion that you Throw Away the Script and Engage the Imagination.

A quality infant and toddler toy can be used in many ways.

A quality toy can be used in more than one way and will grow with your child. For example, a set of nesting blocks can be used for many things: filling, dumping and stacking when your toddler is young, and as car garages, towers, for sorting, and homes for animals as she grows!

A quality infant and toddler toy engages the senses.

Young babies learn by using all of their senses. They like play that involves materials with a variety of texture, as well as lots of physical contact, singing and dancing. For older toddlers, play with sand, finger paint and shaving cream provides opportunities for learning using touch, smell, sight and sound.

A quality infant and toddler toy allows children to use their imaginations.

Look for stuffed animals or dolls that aren’t from a TV show, or other media, to allow your child to create her own play ideas. Developing creativity and problem solving skills is important for life long learning.

A quality infant and toddler toy lets children make decisions about their play.

A quality toy does not do something for the child. Instead, the child finds pleasure and satisfaction from doing something to the toy. For example, a soft and simple doll can do whatever your child imagines, while a battery-operated doll that talks limits what your child might pretend.

What does this kind of play look like?

When you child builds with blocks, she is learning many important skills such as: creativity as she creates a unique structure of her own design; physical development as she develops fine motor skills; and thinking as she explores relationships among object size, shape and balance.

When you share a book with your little one, you are developing social and emotional skills through parent/child bonding; language development and literacy skills as he learns new vocabulary, enjoys hearing stories, and learns to “read” the pictures to see what is happening; and creativity as you are supporting the development of his imagination.

With permission from the Child Life Council,  PlayopolisToys is pleased to share this most informative and thought provoking article with you, section by section. TRUCE Guide on Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media, reprinted from the Winter 2010 Child Life Council Bulletin.

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play

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Winter 2010: Snowy from Sea to Shining Sea

Valentine’s Day 2010 found snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 United States. I was thinking that had to be a record. Then my incoming e-mail brought a picture from a friend living in coastal North Carolina. There, on their lawn, are her husband and son making snow angels. The onlooking dog, she says, could never be an angel.

Snowfall delights and distresses. Looking out at snow fluttering silently to ground, we stop our busyness to appreciate its beauty and watch as our surroundings become enveloped in a glistening snowy blanket. The natural world seems at peace, resting. We slow down. What’s the hurry? Going out and about in a snow storm, slipping and sliding on icy roads and walkways is asking for trouble. Better to take refuge indoors: read a book, bake, savor the fragrance and flavor of fresh baked cookies, take a nap. Enjoy this gift of winter: the beauty, the peace, the quiet.

I am always amazed at how each snowflake is its own unique shape. If you’ve never read Snowflake Bentley, I urge you to search out this Caldecott Medal winning picture book and share it with the children in your life. Wilson Bentley was born on 9 February 1865, on a farm in Jericho, Vermont, in the heart of the snow belt. He grew up keenly interested in weather, conducting experiments with raindrops, drawing and later photographing snowflakes. On Valentine’s Day 1928, he made over 100 photographs during a two day snowstorm. This best snowstorm of his life was, he said, a gift from King Winter.

Then there’s the distress: staying warm and dry when we must venture outdoors to shovel walkways and driveways or make our way on roads covered in snow and, worse, ice that grows treacherous with below freezing temperatures. And that’s all before melting snow and run-off create floods and turn dirt into mud. [Those living below the foothills of the Angeles National Forest have learned that torrential rain brings flooding, run-off and mud flows too–no delight there, only distress.]

Seems best to think positive. Snow is a gift from King Winter. Delight in its beauty. Bundle up, go outside, and play. Build a snowman. Lie in the snow and make angels.

Make snow ice cream, a winter treat I recall fondly from my childhood. We’d dig down below the surface of the snow, fill a bowl with snow, stir in vanilla extract and sugar to taste, add enough milk to give the snow a creamy consistency, and dig in. Paula Deen suggests combining 8 cups of snow with a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. Either way, it’s a delight. Enjoy!

PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play