The team at educational toy company Click-A-Brick says a new list of non-toy items that every child should have, written by blogger Katherine Martinko and appearing on the Treehugger.com site, is a refreshing departure from the usual must-have toy lists that usually start popping up around this time of year.
Martinko draws from her own childhood memories and says to give a child a fulfilling childhood with, parents should give them items that will get them imagining and playing even when they’re away from their toy box.
A map of the world or maps in general will prompt a child to imagine what life is like in far off places and may give them an early interest in geography, Martinko writes. Pianos or other instruments will draw children in and if they have any musical aptitude, will give them an early start with music. A bicycle will not only provide exercise for kids, but let them get their first taste of freedom. Martinko also suggests providing them with a bookshelf filled with books that will engage their imagination and, lastly, the blogger suggests letting children have access to construction odds and ends like scraps of plywood, corrugated steel, two-by-fours, nails, and leftover cinder blocks that they can use to build forts and other structures without having to follow instructions like they would in a pre-packaged fort kit.
The Click-A-Brick team says while some of Martinko’s ideas obviously require a lot of space and may not work as well for children growing up in a city environment, they nevertheless get parents to at least think about other ways besides toys that they can engage their kids.
“It may sound odd coming from a toy company, but we really like Katherine’s ideas for giving kids things that will engage them and teach them that aren’t actually toys,” Click-A-Brick Co-Founder Jason Smith said. “There is a lot of focus on educational toys nowadays, but children learn in a variety of different ways that don’t necessarily have to do with toys.
“Katherine was fortunate enough to grow up in a wooded area and with a father who was a builder, so she could easily have access to building scraps and to open spaces to ride a bike. Obviously, not all parents are going to be able to give their kids these types of things because they maybe live in a city or don’t have access to building scraps -- and some overprotective parents may even be horrified at the thought of letting their kids play with building scraps -- but what we really like about Katherine’s suggestions is that they demonstrate that you don’t need to automatically think of toys to stimulate kids and teach them. Even something as simple as a map can get them excited about learning.”
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