Its been a rough few days, teething, cold, croup. None of that makes for a very fun blog post so instead I thought I would tell you about the toys that A plays with.
The types of toys A enjoys can be viewed in four categories; wooden toys, instruments, books and soft toys. This isn’t to say she doesn’t like plastic toys but they rarely hold her interest as long as some of these and almost always just end up being chewed and discarded.
One of A’s favourite games is to knock down. Another of A’s favourite games is to stick it in her mouth. This means that the variety of wooden stacking toys (mostly Christmas presents from family lavishing gifts on their first grandchild, thank you!) are perfect. A will crawl the length of a room at the slightest suggestion that a tower is being built and promptly destroy it.
A’s mum and I both really like the lanka kade wooden animals, just the right weight for A to pick up, good shapes for teething gums and really lovely designs. I also really enjoy stacking them, counterbalancing a goat with a meerkat. We also have a great selection of wooden blocks from petit collage (thank you uncle Will) that make fantastic towers and again are small enough for A to hold them and big enough for her to avoid chocking. Lastly in terms of our main wooden toy collection we have our array of Grimms toys. The stacking cups and wankel (I know, I know but Abi tells me that it really is called that) are great. A likes knocking them down or pulling the triangles off their stick (can anyone else spot a pattern in her play yet?) Lastly we have the Grapat nins (the little people things). A great size and shape and one of the first toys that got A to do her third sort of play; hitting two things together to make them go clack.
I really like the style and finish of these wooden toys. All the brands are different of course from the bright shiny blocks of petit collage, to the stylised animals of Lanka Kade and the tactile Grimms and Grapat they all have a lovely feel in your hand you only get from something made of wood. Plastic toys are great don’t get me wrong (we have Ikea plastic stacking cups for out and about and these are a firm favourite) but they don’t have that satisfying weight of wood. There is also I am sure something about being natural and sustainable that is wonderfully important and noble but not why we got them.
All of these toys are good, not only because A simply enjoys them (she enjoys keys, lanyards, bits of paper and leaves too), but they also help her practice her fine motor control. Her hand eye coordination and grip have improved massively playing with these toys.
For a long time, like most babies, A’s musical talents where limited to shaking things. So for along time we have been all about bells, wave drums, maracas and rattles. Recently though a new skill has been added to A’s repertoire, that of hitting one object with another. This has opened up the world of xylophones, drums, and boxes (they make a pretty good drum) as well as daddy’s leg, mummy’s glasses and the side of the bath.
Obviously this new ability is proof to me and her mother that A will become a fantastic musician one day! But seriously the joy at seeing a new thing happen, even one as simple as hitting on object deliberately with another to make a sound, is huge. I was so very proud when she started doing this (particularly because in my distant youth I fancied myself a drummer).
A has been read to for a long time now. In fact rather longer than she has been out in the world. A’s mum read the Harry Potter series to her while she was still in the womb and we never stopped. Both of us love reading (we are primary school teachers after all so it sort of goes with the territory), we also understand the fantastic benefits that a love of books, stories and reading can bring to a child’s life. A loves stories, I know at this stage it is about the rhymes and rhythm of our voices but she is learning to associate the enjoyment of this with the books we bring out. She will cross a room to be closer to a book being read and really enjoys books she can get involved in (lift the flap books like ‘Dear Zoo’ and ‘Peepo’, and touchy feely books like ‘That’s not my Fox’). She also has favourite stories we have repeated often (ok so maybe they are our favourites) and that she now recognises when we recite them when walking down the street such as ‘Who Flung Dung?’, ‘We’re going on a bear hunt’ and pretty much anything by Julia Donaldson (‘The Gruffalo’, ‘Stick man’, and ‘Paper dolls’, which makes me weep).
We have, very consciously, read to A a long time before she could possibly understand the content of the books. At first we had the high contrast back and white books for newborns before they can comprehend colour, we moved on as soon as we could to books with words, flaps, feely books as well as fabric books that A could pick up, look at an (of course) chew.
There are other toys she likes, and we are by no means wooden toy purists. A has a favourite comforter: a soft Elephant that goes everywhere with her. She also enjoys playing with silks, pulling them out of the bag and putting them all over the floor. As I mentioned before we have a set of plastic stacking cups that we take with us on days out. A has enjoyed playing with them and knocking down towers all over the place from Nandos to the Tate Modern Members room.
Well that’s all for now. A has a Dr’s appointment today to see about her cough so hopefully I will, one day in the near future, actually get a nights sleep.
What toys do your kids like to play with? Do you have any top tips for toys we could get for A? Let me know in the comments.