When our first child was born, my husband mentioned to his parents that we really only wanted educational toys. They readily agreed, and we didn’t think anything more about it until the holidays rolled around. It was then that we realized our definition of educational toys was vastly different from their definition of the term.
Their definition consisted of loud electronic toys with blinking lights that said ABC and 123 in a voice which no one could understand. These interactive toys played by themselves – no children needed, which was a good thing because they went in the closet until my husband decided we could drop them off at Good Will.
In an attempt to market educational toys to parents and grandparents, toy manufacturers have taken the need for the recipient, our children, out of the picture. It’s a far cry from the way toys used to be and from what my husband and I envisioned when we thought of educational toys. In our minds, educational toys consisted or simple, open-ended toys which fostered creativity and imagination: building blocks, playsilks, simple dolls, and simple wooden toys.
My mother-in-law is still sidetracked by the flashing lights, but she has begun to recognize that we don’t have any battery operated toys in our house. Our children prefer open-ended toys…when they aren’t busy playing with toys they find themselves, such as cardboard boxes, laundry baskets, or quilts. While they may not be marketed as interactive toys, they definitely require the most interaction from our chidlren.