I am not a fan of plastic toys that light up and play music. I call these my “ADD” toys. I can’t imagine that blinking lights and a recorded voice actually teach anything, even though they are fun for the child. There is a ton of research out there that proves how children learn language through a human voice and not through a recorded one. Here is an amazing video called The Linguistic Genius of Babies. I assume the same logic would apply to electronic “educational” toys with recorded sounds. And what about the flashing lights? If you’ve read my post on radiant light sources such as the TV, perhaps the logic regarding light would be similar too.
I’m not so hard core as to not let a plastic noise maker in my house. We do have a few that have been given to us and some that I had before I started learning about other kinds of toys. Her favorite is a toy piano from her nanny, which is the only one that I don’t have “hidden” away. I like that one because it’s a piano.
I prefer she doesn’t have a ton of toys. I’d rather her read books, play outside when the weather is pretty, and use her imagination. Although it’s hard not to be materialistic in our society, perhaps I can at least tone it down a bit. But, there are sometimes when it’s nice to have things that will keep her busy.
When I taught piano lessons, I had a jar of pom poms I would use as a practice tool. For example, I would start out with 5 pom poms. Each time the student played a passage perfectly, I’d take away a pom pom to make it “disappear”. If the student messed up, we’d start the process all over again until all pom poms disappeared. I never threw these pom poms away because I thought I might use them someday.
So yesterday, when I was trying to get some things done in my office, I noticed the jar on the shelf and decided to give it to her. At this stage, she loves taking things in and out of containers. Turns out, it entertained her for quite a while. She was so focused.
I’m no scientist, but I would assume this kind of “toy” is better for her development at building concentration and focus than a toy that overstimulates the brain and changes pace so quickly. And the recycled Joe T. Garcia’s salsa jar and leftover pom poms were free! Can’t beat that!