Technology; tablets, video games, smartphones and dvd players…. Touch screens are totally taking over and for some reason I feel like this is exactly why kids are missing out on crucial phases of their childhoods. Now don’t get me wrong; like most homes, we have all of those same devices.
I would be lying if I said I don’t let my kids play games or watch their favorite movie on a mobile device, and I’m also totally guilty of handing my phone to my 3 year old to keep her quiet on long car rides or when trying to get the work done. And even though one can make a great case for developmental/learning apps, it’s still just not the same as a good ole’ toy.
I recently had a huge reality check when my husband bought our 11 year old a yo-yo as a surprise, only to have her feel dumbfounded that anyone might actually think that’s fun! Eek! My husband and I, even my mother in law reminisced with her about playing with yo-yos and all of the tricks we used to do as kids. She eventually opened it, gave it 3 lame flicks of the wrist and put it down. Couple of days later when we questioned her on the whereabouts of her super cool new yo-yo and she claimed she put it away because “it was too hard”. Are you kidding me?! Too hard? Passing a level on the game Flappy Bird is hard, but not a yo-yo. It just takes practice and work to develop a skill. Something that’s think too many kids miss out on now days.
With that inspiration in mind it made me freak out about my 3 year old. If we derailed our 11 year old so bad she doesn’t have interest in a yo-yo, I was hoping there was still time for the little one. Time to get back to basics. Long before there was so much technology and before learning was so complicated there were toys and imagination. So we made our own play dough using grape Koolaid and other ingredients found around the kitchen.
It’s for so much more than just sculpting shapes. It’s the touching and the texture. The way it smells and the memories it’ll bring later on. This is the perfect combination to get their little minds stimulated. These are some of the things we can’t get from a learning app. Not yet anyway.. And even though mental development can be accelerated by using learning apps, hands-on learning is still the way to go. We are learn with our senses. Why not teach tactile play while their brains are still little sponges?
Play dough is also great way to develop hand muscles and to let you kids’ creative side shine! I gave Josephine (our 3 year old) different shaped cookie cutters and a ball of the dough we made and let her go to town. She loved it! What kid doesn’t like being messy? Getting messy while learning is the best thing ever! It means that they’re involved and submerged in the activity. And the best part; I was able to get the dishes done without giving her my smartphone to keep her busy. Win!
Now if your kids are anything like mine, after the second or third time they will be like “dough again Mom?”. So shake things up! Add rice or beans to give it a little bit of texture. What about toy cars they can plow into the dough? Or toy bull dozers that boys would love to play “construction” with. That’s cool! As parents we have to be creative and use our imaginations as well. Keep it fun and keep your kids learning. Remember, creative solutions for complex issues…think outside the box!
Tactile play is so important for kids and I think it’s becoming less talked about. There is a world of toys out there that can grasp your kids imagination. Kids aren’t playing outside as much, or climbing tress. Kids hardly do any activities that stimulate all of their senses, including my own. As parents we need to get back to the basics. Tactile play is so much more than dough, but its a place to start. A sand and water table is another great way to stimulate the senses. Plus, remember with tactile play come responsibilities. I make sure my kids learn not only to play but also clean up afterwards. A little fun and a little discipline can go a long way.
I know how busy life can be. But lesson learned, we can’t forget to teach the basics. Don’t wait until you get a yo-yo wake up call like I did!
— Missi (@LifeisPoppin) October 1, 2014