The groove slip­pery grip Toys and past times

With Het­tie Ash­win

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - THE GROVE -

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.

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