Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Best Toys are Free


We were visiting my sister's home for Ilex's birthday party. Drake had set up an obstacle for his bike out in the field. It became the centerpiece of childplay.

A long, heavy board. A stump. That's it.

Do you know the variety of ways a board and a stump can be used? Find out by setting children loose on them. A teeter-totter. A balance beam. A bike ramp. A hands-on science experiment of simple machines: levers. What does it take to balance the board? Can one boy stradle the stump and make the board level?

Look at these poor, little, unsocialized homeschoolers standing in a line, waiting their turn. It makes my heart swell. Did you know that it is best to stand a short distance from the board when another child is walking on it? Otherwise it comes up suddenly and whacks you in the chin (if you're short...). I think that is what the Montessori Method calls 'Control of Error.'

Balance Board #1

Not a bad trick for a 4-year-old (okay, he'll be 5 next month...):

Balance Board #2

What free 'toys' have your children enjoyed?


Anonymous said...

Our boys found a very large sheet of styrofoam that came in an appliance box. They drew a target on it and propped it in the yard. They threw metal BBQ skewers (for shishkabobs)at it. I was proud :)

One time they made a robot costume out of "junk" and spare computer and plumbing parts. It was really cool.

~From Tera

Skeller said...

This post makes my heart swell up, too. Heidi, you do know that you have a magical life, all surrounded by family you love?!? What a great afternoon for the kids.

Gail said...

We lived on a farm when our first born was small, so every stick, every tree stump, every little spring lamb became a toy for him.

As a child I remember spending hours and hours rolling back and forth in the yard on an old 40 gallon drum. Plus making mud pies for our mud pie bakery lol Ah, happy memories.

jodi said...

i hope this comment goes through--never know with this spotty internet whether it's going to hold or not.

love the simplicity of these pics! and so sad i missed the past few weeks of living lovely. i just got an email today from one of our international friends that reminded me of your fair--here in florida we lived near a large university whose masters/doctorate program catered heavily to foreign students (that come not speaking much english). there are several missions on campus, and we got heavily involved, sharing our home, family, traditions, etc. with them. numerous students (here, mainly from japan and china) have brought gifts for my children from their native country, cooked food for us, taught us their traditions, etc. not only has it given the kids an appreciation for other cultures, but an appreciation for their own as well (the girl who emailed me today misses america because of the hugs. in her country, japan, they do not hug). when we had fewer children and more extra space we would host exchange students for the summer. once we had a russian orphan for 3 months in the fall. we all fell in love with her and were so sad when she had to leave.

anyway, i will probably head back north in the next 7-10 days and looking forward to catching up with your blog then-
be blessed-

Beth said...

Last summer we had about 8 large boxes in the back yard (that had to be brought into the garage every night in case of rain) that because ships and forts everyday. It was so fun to watch the kids get creative with their boxes! I thought maybe this year we'd get a swing-set, but instead I think I'm going to go get some more huge appliance boxes for FREE! :) fun post, Heidi.

Renee said...

Is your four year old riding across that board without training wheels?? WOW! My boys love bugs more than just about anything outside. They also love to climb trees. And can you beat a box? I remember as a kid decorating ant bedrooms. I would take a shoebox and little things from the kitchen and bedroom, and make a glamorous room for the ants complete with a pool (easy bake oven dish) and curtains. :) And I could do wonders to a glass bottle or fish bowl with a paint pen.

Christi said...

How fun! My boys are always inventing their own games - with whatever they can find on a given day. I love watching them play, using mainly their imaginations!

Jennifer said...

this is AWESOME. thanks for sharing. i blogged about a similar experience just the other day... finding unexpected joy. although it wasn't actually free (groceries were purchased!), my 3 1/2 year old son has been investigating the many uses of a brown paper grocery bag!

Ashley Kenyon said...

I think my 2 year old son can't play there he still young so I still prefer to buy best toys for 2 year olds for him. But if he turn on the age of 4 I want to play him in some park here together with other kids.

Ashley Kenyon said...

I think my 2 year old son can't play there he still young so I still prefer to buy best toys for 2 year olds for him. But if he turn on the age of 4 I want to play him in some park here together with other kids.