15 March 2011

High Tech Toys for Boys

As a father, I want to give my two boys the absolute best. And these days there are so many things out there to buy. I just searched a little bit on Amazon to see what kinds of toys are being advertised on their main page, and it's all very eye-catching. In fact, my older son said, "what's that-and-that-and-that-and-that?" when I first got on the site. There's everything from remote control cars, to train sets, to four wheelers, to movies - and not to mention video games, scooters, singing toys, guns that shoot, guns that make noise, and the list goes on...

Don't get me wrong, my son has many of the things listed above, and I'm sure he'll continue to get use out of them and have great fun in the process (and I will too). But what's got me to thinking about all of this is the fact that I'm discouraged with the level of imagination that I see day to day at school. I can't seem to get into some of my student's brains, can't seem to get them to explode on a book like I used to do. I want them to be excited about the ideas they read about, but mostly they seem bored.
I'm fairly certain I'm competing with their TVs, phones, Ipods, and gaming systems. Some of them do have imaginations that are alive and well - very well in fact. But I want to see more of it!

So, when I go home and my little one wants to watch his Thomas show, I'm a little more hesitant than usual. I don't mind if he watches the movies he has, and I don't mind if he wants to play with a toy that makes noise for him, or that has some other kind of convoluted mechanism - all have benefits for sure. However, when he uses his imagination for the main part of his activity, that is the pinnacle of play.

I can't help but think that what the Oompa-Loompas of Wonka's factory said about TV is applicable to most of the gadgets my students (and child - and I) use so often. Here's a bit of their song:

The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, never, NEVER let
Them near your television set - 
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they're hypnotized by it,
'What used the darling ones to do?
'How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?'
'Have you forgotten? Don't you know?
We'll say it very loud and slow:

Since I was in middle school myself, I've loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I still love it, and what the song says is true - reading used to be much more popular among children. So I will read to my boys as much as I can.

And besides reading? Well, I have a few recommendations for those of you looking for "high tech toys:"

1. Cardboard
Do you know you can get FREE cardboard at places like Lowe's and Home Depot? Yes, free cardboard. When our oldest had a birthday in December, we made a train out of two washing machine boxes - we still play with them. We color on them, push them around, and, obviously, crawl through them. What a wonderful toy - and what a great way to stimulate the imagination!

2. Pillows and blankets
The other day I was covered and recovered in a pile of blankets and pillows for well over twenty minutes (that's at least two hours in child time).  We also like to combine the pillows and blankets with chairs for a more stable game, such as when we need to build a house or fort.

3. Sticks
Oh, what fun a stick can be. Did you know it is almost impossible for a preschooler to walk by a stick and not pick it up? At least a male preschooler anyway. We collect them, throw them, shoot all kinds of stuff from them, and mostly swing them (I feel like I should apologize to my sister here for that one incident of stick-swinging - sorry sis, but I HAD to swing it after all, I understand that now...).

4. Sticks + Water
Now we're talkin'. Yes, combine a stick with that second element of boydom that will not be left alone and what do you have? The perfect game. Because, after all, wetness that you can hit at someone else, or yourself, is the greatest time. I didn't even have to ask him to pose by this small body of water, he gravitated toward it like I reach for my coffee beans in the morning - no thinking, just moving, must - have - puddle. Did I mention that the stick was IN the water to begin with? Bonus. Kodak doesn't make moments like this one!

5. Living sticks (also known as trees) Only trees rival sticks and water. I have so many memories that have to do with trees, and I still like to climb them. I should admit, too, that I'm a bit jealous of my son's size sometimes. The tree he's climbing in the picture begged me to come too, but only a small child can squeeze up branches that grow like that. It's amazing being surrounded by a tree; the light dances on your arms and face, the wind says things to you it's never said before, and the perspective you gain from its height is like, well, it's almost like reading a book...

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...