The groove slippery grip Toys and past times
With Hettie Ashwin
KIDS have it all these days, or if they don’t have it, they want it. Birthdays, Christmas and rewards all come with hefty price tags. If it doesn’t require batteries, have flashing lights, turn into three different modes at the push of a button then their childhood will be in ruins and your name will be mud.
Every parent knows the way to household bliss is to ’just buy the damn thing’. If household blackmail was a crime the gaols would be full of six year olds. So parents have to re-educate their offspring into the delights of simple toys. Toys that are cheap, but never nasty. Toys that have been around for ever.
Dirt. This is readily available, comes in all varieties from stony, sandy, brown, lumpy and sticky. It can be dug, which is another great past time, but more on that later. Dirt is universal, so if your progeny has a play date they can feel right at home in other people’s dirt. It encourages the experimentation. They can eat it, mould it, spread it, build it up, smash it down and with the added bonus of water it takes on a whole new dimension. Mud is fun.
Sticks. These are everywhere. The sheer pleasure you will get watching your child breaking off a branch from your ornamental orange tree and ripping off the leaves will leave you speechless. Sticks can be all manner of things. From Starwars to King Arthur they give the kid a chance to play act. Sticks can be poked down holes, up trees, in letter boxes, under rocks and trailed in water. They can be used as spears, lances, swords, lasers, bats and the list goes on. Little Johnny or Katie will soon learn the valuable lesson of life; that the bigger the stick the more popular he or she will be. Sticks are available in all shapes, but customising your own is half the fun.
String. As a toy, string is endless. The child need not get tied up in the details of size or weight, for them string or rope has heaps of possibilities. What kid doesn’t want to tie up their sister, lasso the dog or hang their friend’s lunch box from a lamp post? String stretches the imagination. Will it wrap around the house? Can it pull a bicycle with three people aboard? Is a trip wire tight enough to stop a cat? These questions are the precursor to a life in the study of physics. String brings out the scientist in your six year old.
Single activities that require little in the way of equipment are as follows.
Digging a hole. This activity can keep the cherub quiet for hours. How proud will you feel when you see the metre hole in the lawn, knowing your child had the tenacity, the sheer stick-ability, the stamina to complete the task.
Hammering nails. What parent hasn’t wished for a spark of interest in their child when it comes to a career choice? Given the right equipment children will take to the task with vigour. Imagine your surprise when you see a row of nails in the brickwork of the house or the front door. Junior will surely be a carpenter.
Using scissors. Another career choice is hairdressing. Little Susan show promise as she trims her dolls hair and then her own. Scissors open up a whole set of opportunities to cut things. Topiary can lead to an artistic flair, dressmaking requires a certain skill with scissors, and proud parents can glean their child’s promising future from the chosen materials that have delighted their kid’s fascination with scissors.
And last but by no means least is the magnifying glass. This instrument will give the child a chance to develop their fine motor skills as they burn their name in the garden fence. Hand-eye coordination is vital to catch those unwary ants in the death ray and a quick response is honed as a small fire takes hold and teaches the child about combustible materials in the wash basket.
This is not an exhaustive list of toys and past times for children. It is however a start to a well grounded childhood.