Wednesday, October 19, 2016

19. Don't Buy Toys Without a Volume Switch

This is one of those things I didn't think about until it was too late. One Christmas, I decided to buy Lucy a cute little piano that played music. Imagine my surprise when that cute little piano screeched the most horrendous music at an incredible volume. I searched everywhere for a volume button to no avail. Eventually, that cute little piano conveniently got "lost" beneath the couch.

Similarly, make sure toys have an off switch. Lucy had the very popular Fisher Price Laugh and Learn Puppy as a baby. It sings adorable little songs and says all these cute phrases. But the "off" switch is a very sensitive button on its paw. So if anything bumps it in the toybox, it turns right back on. And nothing is creepier than hearing "I love you!" coming from the toybox in the dead of the night. (Except for when the batteries start to die and it calls out a warbled version of "Iiiii lurve youuu.")

The best toys are the ones that require few batteries, but a lot of imagination. My girls both adored their play kitchen and food. They love baby dolls, shopping carts, strollers, and baby doll accessories that mimic what we use for a real baby (crib, carseat, diapers, bottles, blankets). They're just starting to get into Legos. They can spend hours playing doctor with their cheap medical kits and a box of dollar store bandaids. Or post office with a stack of notecards, a box of envelopes and some sticker "stamps." When they were little, they loved standing at the kitchen sink with a trickle of water and an assortment of cups, spoons, and funnels.

They both love crafts, but I'm learning it doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Many times, they're happy just to rummage through the craft supplies and think up their own craft ideas. I always keep the following things on hand: glue sticks, pipe cleaners, stickers, construction paper, cotton balls, brown lunch sacks, googly eyes, washable paint, and washable markers.

Another trick I have up my sleeve is scavenger hunts. They think it's the greatest thing ever and it takes almost zero effort on my part. Haha. I write a list with fancy little check boxes next to each item, give each girl a clipboard to put their list on, arm them with a bucket or bag to collect things in, and send them off. I have them search for everything from paper clips and socks to a book with a princess on the cover or something with Elmo on it. You can do color scavenger hunts, letter scavenger hunts, shape scavenger hunts. Or take it up a notch and instead of having them gather things, let them use your phone to take pictures and make it a digital scavenger hunt.

So Christmas is coming and I'm on the hunt for presents that will be played with more than once. What are some of your best toy tricks and tips?

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