You have no doubt experienced your child being fascinated by the box while an expensive new toy sits beside him.
Boxes awake the imagination of a child because they can be so many things. A child wants to create and learn things and a simple cardboard box gives him the opportunity to do that.
Toys are great and kids clamor for them when they see them. Every child needs a few toys, but when you go overboard in providing a room full of toys, you may be slowing your child’s mental and emotional growth. Instead, give your kids things that will free them to do what they want to do.
Toys are, by their very nature, limiting. Even the most educational toy is limited to what it is and what it requires, while lids in a bucket or any number of boxes, bottles or baskets with or without fun things in them are not limited by anything but their imaginations.
One of the toys that grabbed my three year old granddaughter’s attention was a small box filled with the leftover tabs from a set of foam forms.
About an inch wide and twice as long, they became food on a plate, a crown on her head, a path for her doll and a petals for a flower at different times.
Toys that you buy for young children should be something they recognize. Simple toy cars, trucks, dishes and dolls allow them to create scenes and events in their minds.
Toys that do it for them might catch their attention at first, but they soon make them passive and disinterested, things that carry over into their adult lives.
Allow them to play with some of your things, too, so they can begin to understand the bigger world around them.
Mom’s jacket or Daddy’s shoes are good toys while Mom’s purse and Daddy’s keys are not, so you will have to have a few rules, but let the kids do things that don’t hurt anything and that allow them to “feel” your life.
Remember that the reason children play is to learn. Don’t tell them that and don’t try to teach them. Play time is not for being taught; it’s for learning, and there is a big difference.
It’s not for accidental learning, either. Kids know exactly what they are doing when they use what they have to experience, in their imaginations, just what they want to know.