Like many parents, I struggle with the piles of toys and “stuff” in our home. We work hard to rotate toys and to reduce clutter by discarding duplicates and broken toys. Still, I find myself unhappy and uncomfortable with the amount of “stuff” we've accumulated over time. I begin to experience unproductive feelings and emotions of guilt and paranoia. I wonder “Where is my will? Why can't I simply step back from all the insanity that is materialism? Why can't I stay ahead of the accumulation?” Can you relate?
I decided to really take a step back. We live on six forest filled acres. So much joy, learning, and adventure to be had, right? Sure. In theory but factor in distractions and luxuries like being warm, being dry, devices, and a playroom filled with legos and see the struggles ensue. We do a great job of marrying the indoors and outdoors, but let's face the music, it is tough to stay pure. I am keeping it real, friends. So, I decided to make a list. The list is one that I will place in a spot I will see often to remind me of the beauty in simplicity.
Simple Toys for Kids
Here is the list of “toys” my sons will joyfully and inquisitively play with for hours. What would you add to your list?
I have seen it. My sons use sticks in ways I never could possibly imagine. Sticks are writing tools, building tools, bows, arrows, musical instruments, dream catchers, mobiles, and the list goes on. Never underestimate the power of mother earth's sticks and twigs.
I observe the joy in work when my sons are getting their hands dirty. Last summer we had our deck demolished a bit prematurely which left us with a mud kitchen for the summer. What a blessing! What a silver lining! Three and four year olds established a well working chocolate factory, producing chocolate, muffins, and a myriad of other goodies. Preschoolers built dams and bridges without a step by step guide. They learned by doing and by trying again and again.
Rocks are fascinating to young children for lots of reasons. I hooked my sons last summer when we dove deep into gathering knowledge about our earth's rocks and minerals. Not to mention the rocks used in the civil engineering that took place in the mud kitchen. Rocks can be painted, can be patterned, can be kept for safe keeping, can be used for heavy lifting, can be explored beyond face value, have a story that your children will want to imagine.
Starting from birth, a child's fascinating with water is evident. Observe the child. Sure, pouring water is not ideal but make it work, make it ideal by setting up a water station indoors or outdoors. Let them pour, splash, mix, and need we say “drink” water. Add natural colors and natural textures. Watch the joy. A water table is a great way to integrate water into you child's play but there is also the well known sink and bathtub terrific for water play.
Reminding children to be gentle and to respect trees has never felt like nagging to me. Kids get it. The branch is weak. It will not hold your body's weight. So, life sciences and physics is alive and well. Trees give us leaves, bark, smells, textures, and loads of adventure. Strong, often older trees provide climbing and swinging opportunities. Trees ignite imagination. One of our favorite children's book is Miss Suzy. My sons quickly fell in love with old oak trees and acorns, creating and imagining every time we stumbled upon one in our neck of the woods.
I created this list as a reminder. Boiling it down to these five things grounds me, inspires me, and brings me back to a place of comfort. I hope you enjoyed this post.
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