Saturday, October 13, 2012

Children Don't Need Toys

I've long been tempted to get Ben one of those cute rugs with roads on it because I know he would love it.  The other day, however, in a bid to use up some of the big architectural paper hanging around, I taped paper to the floor for him and he spent hours creating his own roads.

It dawned on me that the cute toys in the toy store are for the kid inside me, the parent!  My ideas of play are different from my children's ideas.  I would set up the Fisher Price house all cute with its furniture and baby in the crib, but they want to haul it around as a cash register or parking garage.  They appreciate raw materials like cardboard, stones, tape, and paper.  

Their creations are creative, sure, but they read as visual clutter to me (that sounds so harsh - I know that one day I will miss the paperclips taped to the walls, ok?).  Today I carried some ancient mutilated cardboard boxes out to the trash because I couldn't stand the decor anymore. There's no shortage of creativity fomenting in their brains, so we're sure to be surrounded by projects again soon.

See, I've been thinking of toys recently as Genevieve's birthday approaches. 

For sure we are not buying her toys.


  1. Yes yes yes. The backyard has a pile of broken bricks that I can't bear to get rid of because my son uses them so often. His room is full of "materials" that he has rescued from the recycling bin. He plays with toys about once every other month.

    I got rid of lots of our toys last month and we haven't missed them one little bit. I think I'm going to go through again and say goodbye to some more.

  2. So true! Mine three are grown now, but I remember letting them do something similar in place of a road rug: we used masking tape, right on the floor, & I let them dictate to me where they wanted a little store, where the houses were, school, etc. It lasted a good long while, & somebody was playing with our creation most every day. And I could sweep & clean right over the tape, which ended up lasting quite a while. Actually, I got kind of worried when we finally did pull it up & pitch it, thinking that it would mar the floor's finish. But no, everything was fine! :o) Good memories!


  3. Brenda, my husband recalls doing this very thing on carpet when he was a boy!

  4. Kids love to create! Fun seeing your son's roads! Boxes were always a favorite at my house!

  5. Yes! We did the tape on carpet thing. We also played with black beans a lot...spread them out on the floor and plowed roads through them. Once I don't have a baby around the house, I'll let the kids do that.

    Jada's creativity is really budding lately. The other day she made me a watch out of a button and a piece of fabric selvedge.

  6. Zoe, that's a great idea with the black beans.

  7. Superb post, Margo.

    It seems to me my happiest memories were with improvised toys. At the sewing retreat I was reminiscing with a woman who was like a surrogate mother to me growing up. I used to play with the empty rolls from adding machine tape. I'd stick them on my fingers making "Monster Hands." Or playing in my mother's button jar, that was another great one that I know your children are familiar with, too.

  8. Bravo! And, the cluttering nature of toys always ends up making me grumpy.

  9. Oh yeah, I LOVE this! I am right there with you. I've lately been thinking 'these children have too many toys' even though they probably have 30% of what most of their contemporaries have. I read somewhere recently that children should have TOOLS, not TOYS and I love that--it makes so much sense! I'm now brainstorming what tools are needed for a 1 year old and 5 year old, what w/ Christmas coming and all that. They need the raw materials, just like you said. Not the finished product.......

    Oh we are kindred spirits indeed!

  10. What a fantastic idea.Love the creativity I seen from him, such as the red light he drew.. How fun, and how nice a mama you are..
    I too , remember when my 2 kids were little, thinking--Oh no. I can't stand these old boxes [that became houses, barns, cattle stables,et] in there rooms any
    The toys would sit there.. and the creative toys would be played with for ever.. Even when they were babies, they loved to sit in my kitchen ,while I cooked or cleaned and play with the mac n cheese box, jello box, etc..
    What a great post.Brought back memories.

  11. So so don't need toys.

    This is a great reminder as Christmas approaches.


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