Low-Tech Toys And Games For High-Tech Children
Although video games and other high-tech games may appeal to a modern child, simple toys still have a place in a child's intellectual and social development.
Despite the seemingly overwhelming selection of video games and other high-tech toys available to children today, many of the low-tech toys and games enjoyed by their parents are still able to provide hours of stimulating entertainment. Children still need to experience interactivity with their parents, and these timeless toys and games have proven to be excellent for intellectual and social development. If you are a parent searching desperately for toys and games that don't encourage isolation and/or desensitivity towards violence in your child, then you cannot go wrong with any of these low-tech classic toys:
1. Wooden blocks. Perhaps one of the first toys a child experiences in his or her toddler stage, wooden blocks stimulate a young child's intellect and creative urges without bells or whistles. For the youngest players, fine motor skills and a sense of balance are developed as they try to keep a stack of blocks from crashing down. More advanced toddlers may start recognizing the funny little shapes on the sides of the blocks as a code of some kind, opening the doors to their first concept of written language. School-age children start designing more aesthetically pleasing structures with more complex blocks. This concept of constructing larger structures from simpler pieces will lead to interests in science or architecture or construction. From the simple wooden blocks, parents can easily progress to more complex building systems, such as Lego kits or Erector sets.
2. Play-Doh. Who can resist opening up a can of Play-Doh and inhaling that indefinable kerosene smell? Few products exemplify the simple joys of childhood as Play-Doh, and parents can still count on this fact with their modern children. Whether it be the commercially-produced Play-Doh or its homemade equivalent, children love to manipulate clay into pleasing shapes. Younger children may learn how to use cookie-cutters or other molds to define shapes, while older children may create intricate sculptures or functional pieces. Parents may wish to demonstrate Play-Doh's ability to pick up comic strip newsprint, which leads to more interaction. Budding artists may also learn a few important basics about color schemes and blending.
3. Catcher's mitt and baseball. You can't have one without the other and still call yourself a ball player. Once a leather catcher's mitt is placed on a child's hand, it won't be long before his parents hear the solid thunk of a baseball being ground into the pocket. A catcher's mitt and ball is the perfect invitation for a game of catch between parent and child. For many children, this is one of the first truly interactive games played with their moms or dads. A good game of catch encourages parents to relate to the child on a level playing field. A child is eager to display his or her newly-honed motor skills, and a parent should offer positive reinforcement for a good catch or accurate throw. Mistakes should never be overly criticized- this is a GAME, and should be a satisfying outing for both parent and child.
4. Jigsaw puzzles. An activity that practically defines conceptual development in a child, putting together a jigsaw puzzle requires patience, social interaction and visualization skills. Perfect for a rainy day or other unexpected stretch of free time, jigsaw puzzles encourage quiet concentration and cooperation- two important concepts when siblings are involved. Puzzles can be found that match nearly every age group, and they are not budget-breakers for parents. Once the puzzle itself is completed, a child is rewarded with a permanent picture that immortalizes his or her achievement. Children thrive on a feeling of accomplishment, and also learn a valuable lesson on 'delayed gratification'. Parents should make sure that the jigsaw puzzle is appropriate for their child's age group, and is not unnecessarily difficult.
5. Dolls. The Barbie doll and GI Joe have been a part of childhood for decades, and sales of these dolls continue to hold steady. Teddy bears and other soft toys are also consistent bestsellers in toy stores. Dolls encourage both boys and girls to interact with a world outside of themselves, giving them a sense of social structure and interconnection. Barbie appeals to little girls searching for a positive role model for themselves. Many of their own curiosities can be played out through the elaborate play-acting between Barbie and her friends. At a point where parents may encourage friendships between their children and their neighborhood schoolmates, such doll interaction may make that first awkward introduction go more smoothly. Boys may also gain a sense of confidence in their social skills through interactive 'battles' with other boys. For either sex, a doll may serve as your child's secret confidant or nighttime guardian, two very important 'jobs' that may calm your child's fears while fostering a stronger sense of connection with the outside world.