Today’s children are often overstimulated by the amount and types of entertainment available to them. More electronic toys, kid versions of laptops, educational DVDs, and video games touted as learning aids are popping up every day. But childhood play doesn’t have to be complicated. Oftentimes the best activities are the simplest ones, childhood staples that let kids be kids without overwhelming them or making them feel rushed.
One of the simplest pleasures of childhood is sitting down with a box of crayons and a big sheet of paper. Though activity kits and coloring books abound, blank paper allows the imagination to run wild. Large drawing pads of white paper or newsprint paper are inexpensive and can be found at department stores, craft stores, office supply stores, and even some supermarkets. Crayons are also easy to obtain, from simple eight-color boxes up to mammoth collections of 120 colors or more. These two simple craft items can keep kids occupied for hours and help stimulate the mind rather than bombarding it with a constant influx of digital information.
Legos, Lincoln Logs, and Tinker Toys are all familiar names from childhood. Over the years other building sets such as Construx and K’nex appeared on the scene, but the premise is the same for all of them: to encourage kids to build things with their own two hands. Some of these sets come prepackaged with pieces and instructions meant to build specific models or structures, while others come with an assortment of pieces and an instruction book with suggestions for things to build. Regardless, construction toys are a great way for both kids and parents to enjoy an engaging afternoon. Younger children benefit from the hand-eye coordination and logic skills involved in creating structures, while older kids will learn how to follow directions to produce a desired result.
For kids, there’s nothing like being able to stick their hands in something and make a big mess. Fortunately for parents, Play-Doh lets kids have all the fun of being messy while still being easy to clean up. Available in a wide variety of colors, this squishy, bright, non-toxic childhood staple is a great way for kids to access their creative sides. It can be used in tandem with Play-Doh play sets or all on its own for hours of modeling fun. Sets of Play-Doh in primary colors area also a fun way for kids to learn the basics of color mixing.
Long before Leapfrog and Baby Einstein, kids were playing pretend. Contrary to what society may have people believe, it doesn’t take a lot to prompt a child to build a whole world with his or her imagination. A box of old clothes, a discarded tea set, or even a cardboard box and some markers can suddenly become the center of a complex and intriguing game that goes on for hours. Dolls and other simple toys may enhance this type of play, but the point of playing pretend is for kids to entertain themselves. Giving kids a chance to build their own fantasy worlds is an important part of childhood and works to build creative skills that will aid them into adulthood.
Simple childhood pleasures are often the best when it comes to engaging kids in play. Too much time spent focused on TV or electronic entertainment robs children of precious time that could be better spent exercising their imaginations, and may leave them feeling hyperactive. Returning to simple play can bring hours of enjoyment to both kids and parents alike.