Campbell Fiver Family Network

Top 5 Toys of All Time

Evolution and modernization has changed many things in our world, and as hard as corporations might try to include young children in this realm, it seems, some things will and should never change. As parents, we can all relate to moments when our very young child receives a toy, and is far more interested in the box and packaging than the plastic do-dad inside. For some strange reason we tend to feel obligated to distract them from their instincts and insist on the acceptance of the less desired object. Interesting. We also notice how our children gravitate to water and marvel at the length of time they will spend with sticks and rocks if we do not interrupt with concern of getting “dirty. So why not support the child’s natural interests and nurture their instincts? The benefits might surprise you.


1. The Stick. Or sticks of all shapes sizes- including wooden blocks. These are very versatile outside offering fort/structure building that develops problem solving, coordination and communication. Dramatic and imaginative play is inspired in groups of children, encouraging cooperation. Even art can be included with use of sticks by drawing in the dirt, and weaving yarn and beads on twigs. With bark and splinters removed sticks, and small log rounds can become part of all types of indoor play- trucks, dolls, building and so much more- just provide sticks/or blocks, add children and enjoy the inspiration.


2. The Box. Again this can be plural- depending on space. A large empty box free of sharp edges and staples is every child’s dream- they can make it their own in so many ways. With addition of some adult supervision and art supplies this play has many levels of purpose and learning. Construction process can include measuring and math, which can be adapted for pretty much any age. Children will have hours of fun ahead planning prepping and playing. Puppet theatres, houses, space ships, cars, caves, t.v.’s are some things you might see being developed. As long as the box is sturdy (dryer boxes work great) and you have space for it to stay- this toy will be one sure to bring kids back again and again taking new forms along the way.


3. Earth. We are talking everything from large rocks to dirt. Like sticks- this versatile toy is great in its natural environment, but can be brought inside in tubs for exploration. A group of boulders outside can provide a natural playground for children to climb, jump off, and create secluded play spaces with. Pebbles, sand and dirt are almost always attractive to very young children, and with close adult supervision they can enjoy the sensory and cause and effect experiences. This kind of exposure builds science thinking, a relationship to nature and again can connect to other play interests such as vehicles, art, miniature worlds and more.


4. Water. Of course in all of its forms- frozen, snow, warm, cold, clear, colored you name it kids love playing with the stuff. In a large tub or water table with cups and scoops young kids will love learning about cause and effect, add sinking and floating and the preschoolers are absorbing further early science concepts. Mix in color and science is not only expanding again, but now leads into art. There really is no end to fun and learning with water. And of course never over look the greatness of streams, beaches and mud puddles!

ice cube painting 4

Ice Cube Painting

5. Fabric. In large bolts fabric inspires the fashion designer and performer enhancing dramatic play greatly. Unlike packaged, adult constructed costumes, fabric is cheap and open ended which invites the child’s imagination to direct the play, not the costume. Provide a variety of textures, weights, colors and sizes. Combine fabric with fort building with sticks and with dolls and the play continues to expand. In smaller pieces with scissors, glue and bits of craft supplies and adult supervision as needed, fabric can provide art projects that develop creativity.

So there you have it! Cheap and accessible brain-building play for kids of all ages, great alternatives to the expensive imagination robbing plastic we can feel good about avoiding.

Rhonda Teramura Mom of three and ECE

Campbell Fiver Family Network