parenting, Toys and Play

Grow-With-Me Toys: Choosing Sustainable Toys with Aimee Ray

Aimee Bio PhotoI’m Laurie’s daughter, and a new co-blogger for her Parenting by Faith blog. I am an early childhood educator turned mama, with a passion for building a strong foundation for little hearts and minds. It is such a joy to see children learn about the world around them starting in infancy and I hope to foster that joy in others by supporting intentional play.

As any parent knows, the choices are almost endless when it comes to finding toys for your child. From the day your little one reaches for her first rattle, all the way up to engaged hours of independent play, it can feel overwhelming to choose toys that will captivate little hands and minds for more than a few months.

There are a few criteria I look for when deciding whether or not to purchase a toy for my child (the same criteria I used when purchasing materials for my classrooms of infants and preschoolers before starting my own family).

* Quality materials: is the toy durable, made to last through multiple children and perhaps even multiple generations? Not only does this cut down on the waste of broken toys being tossed after one tot, but it generally results in toys that are much more pleasant to look at, touch, and play with.

* Multiple uses: can it be played with in more than one way? Can it be used in open-ended play, leading to discoveries in language, motor skills, and mathematical or scientific concepts (shapes, colors, movement, sound, and much more)?

* Aesthetic appeal: Now this may seem unimportant, but toys that you think are beautiful, well-made, and engaging will be toys you want to have out and available to your children. They will teach your child to appreciate their environment and value beauty around them. One aspect of Montessori philosophy I hold dear is the importance of instilling a sense of belonging in your child’s environment with carefully chosen materials, which promotes creativity, learning, and a desire to care for and maintain that environment.

That being said, a few intentionally chosen toys will save you money in the long run, cut down on waste, and promote a play environment which spurs intrigue (rather than spurring the need to purge toys every three months!). Tune in for my next post with a review of a toy that is providing my 9-month-old with endless entertainment. In the meantime, look at your child’s existing toy collection. Do any of your toys meet the three criteria above? Tell me about them in a comment below!




Excerpt: The Power of Parent-Child Play, Toys and Play

Persistence in Being Silly

Break through your misconceptions about play, try something new, and be prepared to enjoy more creative, joy-filled parenting!

Knock, knock. I opened the door to find a man about six foot four, in a business suit, carrying a briefcase.

“Would you like to buy some life insurance?” he asked in a teeny tiny voice. A most peculiar teeny, tiny, head towered atop the crisp white shirt and tie.

“Oh, yes!” I replied. “Please, do come in.”

The man entered with a weird, staggering walk. I invited him to have a seat. He stumbled backward into an easy chair, and with awkward exaggeration, he crossed one leg over the other. He giggled.

“Would you like a cup of coffee?” I asked.

“No, thanks,” he squeaked. “I feel a little sick.”

His odd-shaped stomach began to writhe. A growling noise came from inside his pants. Suddenly out of the front of the shirt, near the pants waistline, popped Tyler’s head. We unbuttoned the shirt to reveal three-and-a-half-year-old Aimee, sitting atop eight-year-old Tyler’s shoulders.

Ah, yes. Just another crazy evening at the Sargent house.

It started off with a little silliness and no real plan–Tyler just goofing off, climbing into and being swallowed up by a pair of his dad’s pants. We have funny pictures of the kids in diapers standing in Dad’s shoes, too. But once Gordy put Aimee on Tyler’s shoulders, buttoned a business shirt on her, and tucked it in at the waist, Tyler vanished. The result looked so bizarre, and so much like a real man with a child’s head, that we all decided to create a Sargent’s Funniest Home Video.

Various “takes,” which we spent the entire fun-filled evening on, culminated in the final version, complete with tie, briefcase, and Aimee’s insurance line. We enlisted the help of my dear friend Cyndi, who helped insure that Tyler (not being able to see a thing) wouldn’t accidentally step backward off the porch while Aimee knocked on the door!

Here is a random image just to give you a feel for what it was like, to help you picture our evening better. (Forgive the poor photography! The video is better but loooong so I have to figure out how to edit a snippet from it.)


As you learn to play more with your own family, you may find some strange ways to play, as we often have. I guess it takes being on the lookout for those things that have the potential to be funny, and toying with the ideas a bit. Events like the making of our video will stick in our children’s mind forever, and the video itself is now still hilarious to watch decades later by my kids. . . and their spouses!

[Excerpt from The Power of Parent Child Play (Chapter 15:  Establishing or Renewing a Playful Home); Copyright 2003, Laurie Winslow Sargent. All rights reserved. Original book published by Tyndale House Publishers in association with Alive Communications Literary Agency.]


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