After another large toy recall, I just have to say, ‘Stop buying cheap toys!’  First came the Thomas recall.  One of my friends sent back over 15 trains and accessories.  Then came the Dora and Sesame Street recall.  Now over 9 million toys recalled from Mattel aka Fisher Price.  What more can we do to keep our kids safe?  My answer, buy safe, natural, age appropriate toys for our precious babies. 

When picking out toys, try to imagine what they will do with it. 

  • Does it invite purposeful activity? 
  • Does it promote decision making?
  • Does it spark imagination?
  • For how long will they play with it?
  • Will it encourage exploration?
  • Will the child spend lots of time with it?

Imagination is a wonderful tool that we have, but it cannot be created out of nothing.  Creative imagination is based on, and directly related to, the quality of experiences in the world.  A rich imagination enables one to picture a solution and work toward it, such as solving a puzzle.  The more experiences that a child has with real information, purposeful activity, and problem solving, the more useful, creative, and effective their imagination will become.

Toys for children should invite play and encourage exploration.

  • Rattles and other manipulative toys

  • Nesting boxes

  • Peg Boards

  • Realistic mobiles with different colors and grips

  • Blocks 

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Eye-hand coordination is developed when it is obvious, visually, that a toy goes together in a certain way.  One example of this is a cube fits into a square hole and a sphere fits into a round hole.  It is no small thing for a child to learn to direct her muscles to do what her eyes see should be done.  This kind of challeging activity will help the child develop coordination and concentration.  All of these things must be considered when selecting toys during this important developmental stage.

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Puzzles promote visual discrimination and eye-hand control.  The use of puzzles calls for a special finger and hand grip called the pincer grip that will prepare the child for writing and small muscle activities while it solves the child’s need to think and problem solve.  Children can develop many useful skills through early experiences with puzzles.  Puzzles are self correcting toys that help the child problem solve for themself.  This is a high level mental activity.   Puzzle help children learn to bring the use of the body under control of will, to concentrate, to make a plan, follow a train of thought, and to repeat and master.  This is the foundation and start of creativity.  

Toys such as dolls and blocks are an open ended toy.  Children learn to apply these same skills and to express and process their unique mental information.  Children are able to process and re-live experiences while playing with dolls or stuffed animals.  The quality and variety of these open ended, imaginative play depends on the quality and variety of the child’s real world experiences.  

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A sparse environment of carefully chosen materials calls the child to work play.  A crowded and chaotic environment can cause stress and drain a child’s energy.  Natural materials are always safer and more pleasing than plasitc.  Before the age of six, a child learn from direct contact with their environment, by means of the senses, through doing and movement.  The child literally absorbs the environment.  The toys and materials in the home should promote self-respect and respect for others and the environment.  Some links for safe, high quality toys for your children:

www.unclegoose.com

www.habausa.com

www.briotoys.com

www.oompa.com

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