Old and New Ideas for Kids’ Toys and Activities I 

Christmas may have passed by the time this entry is posted.  Nevertheless, it’s always the season to think about getting toys for kids.  Birthday and anniversary presents and gifts for others are always needed.  I want to throw out some ideas that may not have occurred to you.

But, first, I want to raise another concern about which I will be writing later.  As you look for toys, you need to think about girl and boy stuff.  Are you choosing toys that “track” the children into stereotypical roles?  During the 1980s, there was an effort to try not to do that.  In the last twenty years, that has changed.  The result is a combination of tracking and non-tracking.  As you look in the aisles for choice objects, always think about what message you’re giving to the child.

In terms of science, a lot of the old ideas are still good.  There are chemistry sets and cooking sets.  They don’t have to be electronic to fascinate.  A child needs to explore and to reflect on what s/he is learning.  There are also simple electronic sets, mother-board kinds of kits, which allow a kid to build a crystal radio and other simple circuit type gizmos. These kits teach basic principles that encourage a child to go further.

You can “build” on these toys by getting Legos and erector sets and models for assembly.  If you have a son in Cub Scouts, he will be expected to build a pine box racer (with your help!)  There’s no reason your daughter can’t join in and make one for herself, too.

There are other kinds of arts and crafts projects that any kid can make.  These include wallets, pendants, ties, and so on. Usually the cost is minimal, and there are lots of these stores around that sell them.

I would strongly urge you to visit a science and technology site called www.howstuffworks.com.  You can interest your child by posing lots of questions that encourage her or him to think about science—and not spend any money.  One question to ask is:  Why does a bicycle not fall over?  Another question to ask is:  How does a screw work?  This last one can also get you and your child to go to a hardware store and “study” all the different types of screws—at no cost.

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