Friday, December 14, 2007

TV Toys

I recently talked to a mother who wanted to avoid plastic toys, but felt she couldn't because her child was obsessed with "Dora".

I'm not going to debate the value of television here, especially of shows like "Dora the Explorer". I personally have mixed feelings on the subject and do let my kids watch some TV. What I will discuss, are ways to make a child's Dora dreams come true without resorting to plastic toys that don't allow for creative, open-ended play.

Some ideas - starting with my least favorite.

Character Clothing - I'm not a big fan of character clothing, but when Arielle was younger (and a huge Sesame Street fan), she loved wearing her Elmo swimming trunks.

Stuffed Animals - My problem with stuffed animals is that they multiply like tribbles, but at least they do allow for creative play. For her second Christmas, Arielle received several Elmo dolls from friends who knew she was a fan. The Elmo's were her constant companions for a while, and had wonderfully imaginative adventures.

Music - Both The Backyardigans and Wonder Pets have CD's. Sesame Street has many many CD's. We often listen to ours while we are riding in the car.

Coloring Books, stickers, paper dolls - These are so easy to find. Combine the coloring book with a box of brand new crayons.

Tooth Brushes - Arielle loves My Little Pony and the toys literally smell, so I'm sure there is no way they are healthy. However, she is very happy with her My Little Pony toothbrush. We've also had Winnie the Pooh and Elmo.

Props for Creative Play - Best of all, give the child the props so she can pretend to be her favorite character. For Dora, a backpack, a compass and a pretend map.

Haba Compass ($11.99)

For the Wonder Pets fan, a cape and a smooth-edged can to be used as a pretend phone.

Super Fly Kidz Cape ($12.00)

For a Bob the Builder fan, a construction helmet and a play bulldozer.

Fagus Mini Bulldozer ($21.00)

Arielle's helmet was a party favor.

And so on... I gave just a few examples. Props are so much better than a "Talking Dora Doll" who repeats ten phrases over and over. They require imagination. And, when the child moves on to another favorite character, these props can be used over and over again for all types of play.

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