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Monday, 13 August 2012

Unneeded Toys

I am reposting this article from Exchange's a hot topic in our centres right now as we become more and more convinced that we need less "stuff" less plastic, pre-determined toys and more real items and fewer of them so that children use their own imaginations.  What do you think?

"The United States has 3.1 percent of the world’s children, but buys 40 percent of all toys sold worldwide.  Obviously, American kids can’t possibly extract all the play-value out of that many toys, most of which end up piled somewhere."

This was the insight of Carlo Rotella in his Boston Globe article, "Clear the clutter; get rid of unneeded toys." shared with by World Forum team member Jean Dugan.  Rotella continued...

"That got me thinking about how drastically a family could cut back on its toys.  So, an exercise: You’re marooned indefinitely on a desert island with your kids, who are under 12.  You can bring five toys.  There are trees to climb, waves to swim in, so there’s no need for specialized sports equipment — and nothing that requires electricity, since there won’t be any.  What to bring?  I consulted with my in-house experts, who are 9 and 11, and we came up with the following:

  1. A medium-size ball.  You can make up an infinite number of games to play with it, and it’s useful for all ages.
  2. A board game.  We considered Monopoly, which would assuage our homesickness for city life, and chess, which would provide a perpetually escalating challenge as the kids grew older.  But we chose The Settlers of Catan, a cousin of Monopoly that goes beyond real estate into agriculture, herding, mining, and town-building, and features more trading and negotiation.
  3. Legos.  Not one of those kits they sell now — the ones that come with assembly instructions for achieving a single preconceived outcome — but a freestyle assortment you can use to make whatever you want in the older spirit of the toy.
  4. Playing cards.  You can play all sorts of games with cards, but my daughters are partial to poker.
  5. A stuffed animal.  The girls insisted on bringing their number-one bears.  And the bears are versatile toys, providing comfort, sociability (they have their own personalities, which adds to the size of our island community), and opportunities for imaginative play....

"So, five toys for a desert island.  I don’t think that reducing to just these five would really cause much of a hardship.  And if it’s this easy to imagine cutting back on toys, why is it so hard in the real world?"