Need Toys To Occupy Your Child? Uh...

Baby girl checking out the sweet sand.
Recently, the weather has been nice and comfortable. With such nice weather, we're taking Baby Girl (BG) out more often to play in the park or splash pad. What better way to burn some excess energy (theoretically) than to take her outside and allow her to explore and play to her heart's content. These days, we've met up with one of our neighbours who has a son that is now 26 months old. While BG and this boy tolerate each other, what they do isn't really play, but they do seem to have fun in their own way, so that works for Wifey and myself (and the neighbour).

When the two little munchkins are busy doing their thing, we chat with the boy's mother. Topics range from mother stuff, to work, or things like toys for the kids.

Turns out, the mother is very like minded to Wifey and I in that regard. She's not one for toys. Apparently, her son has godparents who purchase toys for the boy at every occasion. Birthdays, visits, Tuesdays... you name it. Apparently, it's gotten so bad, the mother yelled at them and told them that rather than buy toys for her son, to have them just save the money for the boy as that would be more useful in the future (tuition, down payment, etc).

Each point, we agree with completely.

After Wifey and I went a little toy crazy last November and December, for the next 7 months afterwards, we've noticed something not particularly shocking. BG sometimes doesn't play with her toys. If she does, it's only for a few minutes before moving onto the next one.

The are exceptions to this observation. When other kids come over and they start playing with BG's toys, BG suddenly realizes her toys are pretty cool and starts playing with them again.

Seems toys are always more exciting with when else is playing with them.

However, we've found that what most interests BG aren't really toys at all.

She's most interested in playing with sand and water.

While being at home is nice, when you ask BG if she wants to go outside, she enthusiastically exclaims 'playground'!*

Once at the playground, she takes off her shoes (or gets me to do it) and then walks in the sandy expanse that is our local playground.

Sand is extremely versatile. Not only can play with sand in between your toes, but you can also pick it up and put it somewhere else. Additionally, you can dug holes in sand. Or fill up holes with sand. You can also smooth the surface of the sand and then draw bears or cars on the sand. Once said bears or cars are drawn on the sand, you can also erase them with your hands. See? Very versatile. Furthermore, if you were to dig deep enough, you'd be able to find dark (moist) sand. Using this sand you can pack it and build something neat. 

Of course, there's only so much you can do with your hands. For this reason, I purchased a shovel and bucket set at the dollar store.

While very useful, I've found that BG is equally impressed with old fashioned yogurt containers. Since we eat yogurt on a weekly basis, there's no shortage of yogurt containers at home.

With these buckets and yogurt containers, we're able to build numerous sand towers to surround and protect any dug up hole. However, the best part (and only reason) to build sand towers is to knock them down. BG has an array of methods of doing so. Her favourite method, from what I've observed, is to break two at a time by falling on top of these sand towers with both hands. Efficient and fun.

Sand is fun and everything, but it's also a little dirty. So to go with the yin of sand, we have the yang of water.

As I mentioned above, we have a splash pad in our park. Our park is very unique as most of the other parks in our area do not have such a feature (many families actually drive to our park to play with the splash pad). Already, this splash pad pretty much pays for itself in property taxes. Okay, maybe not, but it's still very nice to be able to play in water that you don't have to worry about paying for (at least not directly). Probably a big reason why people drive to our park to use it.

The splash pad is very busy with fountains, sprays, and even a tower of water streams. It's a lot of fun for BG, who isn't afraid of getting a little (or very) wet.

It's not all just splashing around at the splash pad. No. Remember that bucket and the yogurt containers we use to play with sand? Well, we can use that same bucket and yogurt containers and fill those up with water. Then, we can pour the water from one container to another. Or, we can position the bucket in a way that it increases the splash radius of the water fountains. Amazing.

Throw in a tiny watering can we bought years ago at the dollar store, and now you're in business. Fill up some buckets, pour the water from the buckets into the watering can, and then pour the water in the watering can in the... buckets? Circular logic at its finest. Alternatively, with all the sand in the splash pad, you can also use the water in the watering can to clean the fountains. Super nice!

Of course, the splash pad isn't the only place you can play with water. Bath time is an extended play period of filling up cups, splashing water around with hands, standing under the faucet with your belly out, and cups of water dumped inside the tub or outside! Whoops.

Now, we lucked out in a way. While BG is very interested in sand and water, I realize not all kids are built that way. The neighbour's son that BG hangs out with these days, he's not a fan of water. He'll hang around the splash pad and fill up a bucket with water, but getting wet or splashed is not on his mandate. He would, however, play with the sand. He actually has quite an impressive collection of sand toys.

Really, it doesn't take much to occupy your child's time. While toys are nice, sometimes just things that you have lying around will do the trick. I have some old dice that I purchased a long time ago when I was into Magic: The Gathering. I brought those out the other day and BG was completely enamoured by them**. If I didn't take them away, she would have sat down and poured dice from one cup to another all day. She loves playing with the dice so much, she doesn't even want to touch the iPad. 

That's truly impressive.

*Actually, she doesn't know how to say playground. However, she uses another word that we think means playground. She doesn't seem upset when we take her to the playground, so we think that's the correct interpretation of her word.

**Not the best idea, but I watched her the entire time. She also didn't try to eat them, which is a plus.


Popular Posts