Thursday, September 5, 2013

Less toys, more fun

A few weeks ago, I saw this post on How We Montessori (a wonderful resource for implementing Montessori in the home) with a list of toys she recommends for one-year-olds.  The wooden coin box caught my eye as something HP would enjoy.  Right now he loves to manipulate objects and has taken to stacking his rectangular blocks and dominoes on their ends.  He also likes to transfer blocks from one container to another and then back again.  This toy seemed like it would both challenge and interest him.

But of course, new toys cost money.  If I bought him every beautiful wooden toy that I found on the internet, we would be in debt, with lots of toys that HP played with for a few months/weeks/days/hours before tossing them aside, and buried under a mountain of forgotten objects.  Toys--no matter how beautiful and developmentally appropriate--often capture children's attention for astonishingly short amounts of time. 

Buying the coin box was out, so I moved on to Plan B: Make something similar myself.

I took a shoe box, cut a slit slightly bigger that a domino tuned on its side.  Next to the box, I placed a metal bowl with dominoes inside.  Viola!  A new toy.

Now I will admit, what I created is less elegant than the one that inspired it, but HP enjoys it, it accomplishes the same goal, and it was free.  That's a win in my book.

(Did you see how I scribbled in crayons on the top to cover up the label?  Yeah.  Didn't work.  Good effort though, right?)  

Throughout the day HP plays with his new toy unprompted.  I will often find HP at his shelf moving the dominoes from the bowl to the box, then lifting up the lid to see them all inside and laughing.  He also likes to turn the bowl upside on our concrete floor and see the dominoes going flying, but that is to be expected.  If asked, he will put the dominoes back in the bowl (he loves the loud clanging sound they make on the metal).

When I see lists like Kylie's, it is easy for me to get swept up in thinking about how much HP would like certain toys.  That is a slippery slope, my friends.  When I catch myself starting to slide, I step back from the ledge, take a deep breath, and remember that what HP loves best is (1) wandering around the park or our backyard picking up sticks, rocks, and leaves, (2) bringing us books to read over and over and over, (3) roaming the house and finding random items to move to other rooms.

HP does enjoy his toys--including the shoebox/domino combo--and I am glad I made it for him, but it is good for me to remember that he does not need specific toys to help him meet developmental milestones, grow intellectually, or have fun.  Let's remember, he's one.  He needs parents who love him, spend time with him, and let him explore the world.

If I can easily make something with materials we have around the house--wonderful.  But if not?  He'll be just fine.  When it comes to kids, less is more.


  1. When Ophelia was 1 (she's 2 now), her favorite toy was a formula can that I cut a dime-sized hole in the plastic lid. I got a bag of pompoms from the craft store and it was a similar idea. She had to work a little harder to get the pom poms in the slightly smaller hole, but she used to do that for HOURS. I threw it away after a bit because it got annoying to find pompoms all over my house, and also to have to open and replace the lid 900 times a day. :)

    1. That's a great idea--HP would love that, too. We do fine dominoes in all corners of the house, but I figure there are worse things...