Monday, April 11, 2011

Tools not Toys... Here we go again...

Play food is lots of fun, even for babies.
I have written about this before and it is becoming increasingly more important to me to follow my own advice because of my two granddaughters. I took these photos last week.

Looking at our kitty on the front porch.
 Elinor will be one if a few days, with Allison following three months later.
I went on the porch to get this shot. I am not as interesting as a kitty!

Elinor in the swing Bob put on our porch.

More fun with food.

It is very hard not to want to buy them all sorts of stuff, because they are so cute and we love babies so much and after all, being a grandparent is awesome. 

As you can tell by these photos, these babies are probably the cutest babies ever--so we have to hold ourselves back from buying a bunch of junk for them that will just be clutter in their homes.

As you will probably notice, we have lots of board books. Each girl has her preference. Elinor loves flap books and already knows what is behind each flap. The funny thing is if it has a monkey behind the flap she pounds on her chest like an ape and make monkey noises. Cris has taught her well. :)She loves Dear Zoo.

Allison loves the touch and feel books. She takes just one finger and touches each texture very carefully. Under the Sea is a favorite, but you can bet this was not this expensive when we bought it! I found this book Life in the Jungle from the same series which is much cheaper. It has pull out tabs too, for when they get a bit older.

And Tails is a favorite and I think it is my favorite board book.


So, in honor of our grandchildren, I am re-printing my Tools not Toys post . I would love to tell you what tool-not-toy we are giving Elinor for her birthday this week, but I hate to spoil the surprise.

 I will try to remember to post a photo next week. Oh and if you want some of my great advice about what books to buy for different age kids, just ask. I LOVE to help folks pick out great books for any age child.  

  Tools or Toys...

~Dad in his workshop making himself a new workbench~

My dad had a lot of great advice. I mentioned before his idea about "Grant Writing," in relation to kids and allowances, but another thing I learned from him was the art of giving gifts to kids. I remember it clearly--at that time I had 3 little boys and Dad and I were standing in his workshop. He was making something and I was holding some tools for him and I commented that he and Mom always gave such great gifts to the kids. At that time I was in a ladies Bible Study and that same week some of the moms were discussing how their kids got so much "toy junk" as gifts and they were lamenting it and wondering how they could curb the toys, limit the junk.

Dad said, "You have to give kids tools, not toys."

That was the advice. He didn't really elaborate--which if you knew my dad, you would be smiling because he generally elaborated on everything. Tools not Toys--actually, he didn't have time to elaborate because someone [with three boys six and under--it happened a lot] started crying in the house with Mom and I left Dad in his workshop to see what the trouble was. Then I was off to other things and the conversation never really got finished. But, when I was driving home that afternoon those words came back, "Tools not Toys."
[Happy days in the sandbox]

It goes back to the thought that we are raising kids to be well adjusted, functioning adults that will one day hold jobs, have families and be responsible citizens. We just have our kids for a little while and during that time we are to prepare them to take their place in society. So they need to learn a lot along the way. They need to be molded and shaped and directed along the way--they need the tools, we need the tools, to get them there.

My Dad, way back when, was a history and shop teacher. And one thing he instilled in us from a young age is, "You have to have the right tool for the job." He would sometimes shake his head when he looked at my husband's tools in our early married life. Many times he would give us the correct tool for the job, or let us use his. I mean, you can not fix plumbing without a pipe wrench, or work with electricity without a volt tester.

The same is true with kids. What kids need are tools not toys. If folks could just get a handle on that, much of the junk found in the typical kid's section of most stores could be reduced by half or maybe even 90%. But, what is a tool?
[Scotty, age three, he loved his Dr. Drew blocks]

Tools, in no particular order: Balls, blocks, dolls, flashlights, sand box, wagon, bike, swings, picnic table, paper and markers/crayons, legos, scissors, games, backpack, fishing pole, compass, knife [older child], mess kit, camping supplies, books, actual tools like a screwdriver and hammer, wood-burning set, knitting or crochet or any kind of handwork, magnifying glass, leather craft, jump-rope, kid sized baking or cooking set, puzzles, kitchen set [play food and so on], a cash register and play money, paddle ball, a big empty box, capes and costumes, gardening items like a pail, shovel and so on...really most traditional toys. I consider Match Box type cars and most action figures tools too.

Toys, in no particular order: Anything that has batteries or makes noise that drives a mom crazy [anyone remember the Tooneyville Choo-Choo?], if it is meant for the child to watch it rather than interact with it, video games, computer games--even educational games can be toys if you are not careful, anything that is cheap plastic and will break easily, stuffed things that talk and entertain--really anything that is meant as an entertainment. I am sure if you and I went together to a big box store, we could find tons of toys that would fall in this category.

Now, I am not saying "NO TOYS EVER!" What I am saying is: Tools should be a child's main diet and toys should be like a dessert. Dessert is nice, but you only have occassionally, not at every meal.

Tools will encourage imagination, develop large and small muscles, and should get the child outside daily. Tools will stand the test of time, can usually be passed down from child to child in a family, and have a lot of play value.

So, the next time you need to give a gift to a child,remember my dad's words, "Tools not Toys." Thanks for advice Dad.

Take Care,

For some suggestions on how to do this, you might want to read my next post--how do I limit the toys I have?

For more of my Pre-School thoughts and suggestions:

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