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Toys That Encourage Imaginative Play

toysencourageplay.jpgI read a very interesting article recently about the correlation between child’s play and social skills. Recently, children’s play times have becoming increasingly more structured and less imaginative according to researchers.

Children who watch more television, play more video games, and participate in structured activities more than other generations of children. Some psychologists point to the fact that less imaginative play means that children are less able to self-regulate. Children who are able to self regulate are able to control their emotions and behavior, exhibit self-control and interact better socially with their peers.

This interests me because I’ve felt the tug from my kids and frankly, even my family, who are alarmed because I allow my children limited computer, television, and video time. I’ve tried to encourage the kids to use their imaginations when playing and not to sit passively and be entertained. Probably due to my son’s approaching birthday, the family has begun the usual pressure filled tactics. I have long said that there are plenty of other parents out there just like me. You are out there, aren’t you? I’ve also touted my personal belief that imaginative play is best for kids. Now I have proof!

This past weekend, we went to the toy store to look around because we wanted to find our child the “perfect” gift. I was looking for something well designed and without batteries that would encourage imaginative play. My husband wanted a “safe” toy which he said meant nothing from China. Do such things exist?

A long time later, we ended up compromising on “safe” and giving up on the rigid China rule. We made another trip around the store and made our list. Some of the toys we met that fit our standards were:

  • The Fisher Price Pull Toy Phone. Remember the wiggly eyes and the sound it made? Our son was thrilled with the eyes, but not so interested in the toy overall. We may go back to get it for ourselves though.
  • A Jack In The Box. We found the wind up version with several different themes to choose from.
  • A Wooden Puzzle. Of course, he’ll need some assistance, but we did find a nice puzzle with only several pieces. As a bonus–it wasn’t made in China.
  • Wooden Alphabet Blocks. This is a timeless classic. Remember stacking these things? They were hard to find though as everything now seems to be either plastic or foam.
  • Trucks. There were several trucks just made for infants which featured big parts and were made of soft plastic. Our son was interested in these toys.
  • Radio Flyer Scooters and Wagons. What a find these were! We looked at the tricycle, but our son is too small right now for this. We will probably go back for the scooter though, which is just the perfect size. Also, purchasing from this company is somewhat of a family tradition. My sister still has the tricycle that my grandparents bought for her 33 years ago!
  • A Tool Kit. Our son’s eyes just lit up when he saw this and we did purchase it for him. It’s a tool bag with baby safe “tools” just like daddy uses! The kit comes with a saw, a screwdriver, a tape measure, and a hammer.

Do you have any suggestions for toys that encourage imaginative play? What toys have you purchased for your baby that you would recommend to others?

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