Sunday, December 10, 2006

Store Toys and House Toys

Here are some good ideas from the December, 1908 edition of the Mother’s Magazine

Store Toys and House Toys
The Best Playthings are Simple and Cheap

Many of the most useful playthings for a little baby are not to be bought in any store. They are the merest bits of wreckage flung up fro the household ocean.
A strong bottle with a glass stopper is a pleasure. A baby of four months will sometimes spend a full half hour putting that stopper in and taking it out again.
Our grandmothers knew that keys on a ring made a capital toy, and also spools strung on a strong string. A box of checkers of the more expensive king-more expensive because then the colors do not come off in baby’s mouth—also makes a good toy. But best of all, perhaps, is a drawer full of all sorts of knickknacks—an old mucilage brush, a little tin box, all sorts of rattly things with covers that can be put on and off.
Another joy is a clothes-baskets, bought for the baby and kept for his use. He can sit in this, be pulled around in it, keep his toys in it, and roll over with it. There is nothing about it to hurt him. It is light, and big, and strong.
Sometimes such things please the baby more than the most elaborate toys. Preyer tells about his little boy who sat for a long time trying to pick a piece of cotton from his fingers, the fingers being smeared with a little molasses. But this play should only come in when the child is over a year old, because before that he is not well able to focus his eyes, and the effort to do so may make him temporarily cross-eyed. Also he should not, as we saw last month, use the small muscles of his fingers so much as the larger muscles of his arm.
Nothing is plainer than that all children are delighted to play with water. Most mothers foolishly oppose this desire, and many children are punished because they get themselves wet. But this again is a natural impulse that must not be lightly thwarted. Because water is an inconvenient plaything, it does not follow that it is a non-educational plaything. On the contrary, the fact that every child, black, white, yellow, and red, that ever was born on the face of the globe, delighted in playing with water, shows us that there is some reason inherent in the human constitution why water should be played with. What we have to do, then, is not thwart this desire, but to arrange for its gratification in a manner the least troublesome to us adults.
One of the simplest plays is to let the youngster have a cup in his bath-tub. Often children who do not like the morning bath can be taught to like it by this simple addition. There are also little boxes of toy ducks and fishes which float around in the water and afford endless delight.
These same little toys may be used at other times during the day. With them usually comes a magnet, but a stronger one should be provided if the child is to be satisfied. Pour about an inch of water into the bottom of the baby’s bath-tub, put the little toys in this water, give him the magnet, and show him how to pull them about with it. If you have rolled up his sleeves and tied an old shawl about him, he will not get wet enough to do any damage, and he will enjoy himself for a good long time.
When he tires of this, give him a piece of soap and let him make soapsuds. This is simpler and even more delightful. At other times let him stand on a stool or bench and turn the faucets in the washbowl on and off. I have seen children’s hands spatted as a punishment for this performance till they were red. I have seen them cry and fret and struggle back to the forbidden attraction, and get punished again, and raise Cain generally. And I have also seen them, when they were blessed with a wiser mother, stand happy and contended by the hour, turning the water off and on, gaining control over the muscles of the hands and arms with every turn.
Among the more convenient toys to be bought at the shop we may mention that old stand-by, Noah’s Ark. The best arks are large and strong, at least two feet long, with animals showing good clear lines—even though these lines are not to be found in Nature! At least, a camel will have his hump, and the elephant his trunk, and the tiger his stripes, so that by these plain markings the child will be able later to recognize the animals themselves.
At the ordinary toy-shop, you can find bells of all sorts, and one or two of them at least you may buy. If the noise of the bell in the house is very distracting, it may be kept as a special outdoor delight. Some children have to be coaxed to go out of doors, and for these children it is well to provide a special set of toys which are kept for outdoor use, and which are never used in the house.
One of these toys may be fittingly a drum. It should be hung up out of doors in the woodshed or barn, and never brought inside. Whistles can be used in the same way. They are ear-piercing indoors, but quite endurable out in the open air. For his quieter moments, baby should have sturdy books, pencil and papers, blunt scissors (for those over one year old), and soft toys to transition him from his loud, rollicking play to his sleepy time.

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