I like to provide my girls with toys that encourage them to use their imaginations, beautiful and fun toys that will persuade them to play instead of watch t.v. or play on the computer. It’s really not that hard to encourage kids to be creative while playing, I’ve found that if I give them a few basics and a few suggestions, they’re able to invent the rest of the games themselves.
My two youngest girls are 8 and 11; they can play by themselves, for younger children, I’d recommend helping them along with more ideas and participating in their games. My girls have been studying recycling and environmental issues at school, so Elli (11 years old) started separating recyclable items like paper bags, newspapers, empty milk cartons, egg cartons, glass bottles etc. She takes these items to the recycling bin and at the same time, got the idea to use some of the things to set up a grocery store in their play room. Elli and Emili set up sections of empty recyclable items in their “grocery store” including the fabric fruits and vegatables that I made for them. Using their toy cash register, baskets, empty paper bags and many imaginary food stuffs, they play “organic grocery store” for hours! Having their own grocery store gives them a reason to be even more creative, they make coupons for the customers, signs for the produce and sometimes they make commericals to advertise their market. I am sometimes a “guest” customer who buys things from their store, asks many questions and I leave with a smile on my face!
My original idea for fabric fruits and vegatables came when I was thinking up toys and games for my first book, Sew Magical for Baby. I thought the soft, colorful fruits and vegatables would provide a baby or toddler with objects to fill the felt bag, dump them out, fill the bag again…..As a learning tool, teach children the names of the fruits and vegatables, teach colors and teach counting shapes, all at the same time.
Fabric toys are nice because they can easily be washed and they offer texture to make the toy more interesting. When the girls are tired of playing grocery store, I think I’ll put the fruits and vegatables in a bowl on my kitchen table!