Written by: Kendall A. | Umm Iman
I truly believe in the simplicity and magic of childhood. Children have an unique ability to see wonder and amazement in the most simple of things. Take for example the common observation that children will play with the box that the toy came in for hours, rather than the fancy toy itself! As adults, we sometimes overcomplicate the experience of play by giving too much, thus leading to overstimulation and lack of creativity and experimentation for littles.
I’m petitioning us to go back to simplicity. Keep it easy; keep it fun; keep it stimulating imagination and creativity on the part of the child!
Below are a few of the items, toys, and experiences that you will always find present in our home in light of this conversation:
- Bubbles: An all time favorite of children of all ages! Bubbles provide hours of fun, and you can get creative with them: small bubbles, giant bubbles, bubble machines, use a variety of bubbles wands, and change the type of bubble solution (some are better than others). Add some tunes, take the bubbles outside, and you’ve got yourself a load of fun, that was simple, cheap, and easy to indulge in!
- Chalk: Another anchor of childhood, chalk is an all-time favorite for its versatility and eco-friendly nature. This is both an indoor and outdoor pastime. You can use thin chalk, thick chalk, and different colored chalk. One of the cool qualities of chalk is watching it become smaller with each usage, until it has completely disintegrated! Chalk is wonderful, because you can create infinite designs, enjoy them for a while, and maintain eco-friendliness by simply erasing away and starting afresh–no excessive paper usage! Chalk is both artistic and educational depending on what you choose to draw/write.
- Art Supplies: We do enjoy a cabinet of art supplies for specific projects we would like to do. Art sparks creativity and open-ended fun and experimentation. In our cabinet, we have recyclables, markers, crayons, colored pencils, paint, stamps, different sized and colored paper, and a variety of textures to explore!
- Books: The beauty of a good book can never go overlooked! Books provide hours of entertainment and development of the imagination. For younger children, tales accompanied by beautiful imagery are a must. As children age, elaborate and descriptive chapter books serve as a great scene to jump into through one’s mind and gain empathy and insight into the lives of others. We also thoroughly enjoy audio stories that can be played in the background while we play, calm down, or get ready for bed.
- Puzzles: These pastimes challenge the brain to think creatively and are a wonderful challenge for children and adults. There are the traditional jigsaw puzzles, math puzzles, word puzzles, etc. With older participants, working on a large puzzle together can be a great bonding experience, as evidenced through my own teenage years–my mom and I would enjoy long evening chats while putting a puzzle together.
- Water & Sensory Play: Sensory play is essential for children in developing the senses, language acquisition, and coordination. Not only is it fun to explore new textures, sights, sounds, smells, and tastes, but it is also contains calming and healing properties. Squishing playdough, watching water pour from one vessel into another, and smelling pleasant aromas is a lovely way to engage the senses, develop concentration, and allow for natural exploration.
- Time Outdoors: The benefits of time spent outdoors, inhaling fresh air and experiencing nature are innumerous. While playgrounds and structures are nice for swinging, sliding, and climbing, we also enjoy and prefer nature in its raw form–hiking, trails, and open grass to play in. Nature provides natural balance beams, inclines, a variety of textures for sensory input, space for imaginative play, and more. We tend to get out daily, rain or shine, whether it be in the backyard, for a walk, to a playground, or to a nature preserve for a nice hike and the beauty of being outdoors. In fact, my children start to get a bit stir-crazy if we don’t get out one day!
- Roller Play: Here is another part of childhood that is particularly beloved. This category includes all toys with wheels! Think: roller skates, ice skating, bicycling, scooters, skateboards, etc. We also discussed playgrounds and time outdoors above, which also fit into this category. Gross motor, big play is a must!
- Culture and Language Exposure: Diversity is important to us as a family unit, and thus, opportunities for my children to learn about other cultures and languages are always available to them. This comes in the form of play dates, stories, programs, games from around the world, and taste-testing new foods. It’s a simple and easy way to show that our world is diverse, and we each contribute to the fabric that creates the colorful design!
Enjoy childhood and make it fun through all of the simple pebbles along the path that create the journey of life =)