Saturday, December 27, 2014

Whose toys are they anyway?

Kinetic sand--ooh, neat!

Who's having more fun with the stickers?
People ask me sometimes why I keep toys in my office. Do I study them? (No.) Do I keep them around in case a small child visits my office? (That might be the official reason, but unofficially, no.) Do I use them to distract students from despair over a B-minus? (While I do encourage students to give the Potato-Heads makeovers, no again.)

Why do I keep Mr. Potato Head in my office? And why the little Bugs Bunny bendy figure and Buzz Lightyear and a Slinky and a miniature Etch-A-Sketch? 

Because I like them, that's why. I realize that I long ago reached the age when unironic admiration of plastic bendy figures becomes unacceptable, but I'm not ashamed to say that I still like toys.

And I'm not the only one. On Christmas Day seven adults gathered to watch my granddaughter open her presents, and at some point during the day each one of those adults ended up on the floor playing with toys. The pink kinetic sand was quite popular, but the magnetic building blocks were a big hit as well, and I certainly succumbed to the charm of the moveable magnetic barnyard-animal stickers.

It wasn't purely child's play, either. You could just about see the gears working in my granddaughter's head as she experimented with the properties of kinetic sand, but the adults had to find more formal answers: What is it made of? Why does it behave that way? Let's look it up! And suddenly we were engaged in a lively holiday discussion of non-Newtonian solids whilst squishing slimy pink goo between our fingers.

Sure, toys are educational, and we can pat ourselves on the back for buying things that encourage inquiry and creative play. But the main reason to keep toys handy is much simpler: I like toys.

And maybe that's why it's so much fun to have small children around: they give me a guilt-free excuse to get down on the floor and play. 



Bardiac said...

Play is important at any age! I have a Einstein Action Figure (with Power Chalk!) in my office, and also one of those many nails in a plastic board so you can shape it things, and some finger puppets...

Bev said...

Finger puppets are great. I have a Jane Austen action figure complete with a quill pen and writing desk. Her arms move a little but her legs are immobile. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

penn said...

I love toys too! Legos are still satisfying, puzzles are meditative, and toys just let me relax. My baby girl is 5.5 months, and I'm so excited that she's finally getting into toys. Looking forward to the day when she's old enough to really play with us.

Also, my family spends all of Christmas playing board games, which seem to be another version of grown-up toys.

JaneB said...

Toys are definitely great, and I also try to keep a few in my office. I like borrowing children for things like, oh, feeding the ducks, walking very slowly and looking at stuff, and singing in the street, all things that get odd looks when a middle-aged person does them alone (thinking about it, greater liscence to do those things will definitely come with age - something to look forward to!).