Friday, December 16, 2005

Gifted Girls and Legos

This story about an all-girls team of 6th graders winning a Lego robot-building contest just made me smile. Read the report from Pocatello, Idaho here.

Legos make great holiday gifts for kids because you can approach them at any level, and they require you to dream up ideas and then build them. Unfortunately, there don't seem to be a lot of toys on the hot-lists these days that encourage that sort of creativity. I experienced the joy of shopping in a crowded Toys R Us the other day for my niece and nephews and was struck by how many toys involved licensed cartoon or movie characters. Don't get me wrong, I love Dora the Explorer. But now instead of a kitchen set where you have to dream up the story line, you get a Dora kitchen set, with Dora's world already attached. I'm curious how people reading this blog go about choosing toys for their kids that don't take the imagination part out of play.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

My kids are older now - the youngest are 13 - but we always chose toys that we could "add on" to. Legos, Playbmobil, Zome, and craft supplies are favorites around here. Very possibly, though, the best gift we ever gave was a homemade 3 story dollhouse made out of a cardboard box. Parental imagination is just as vital!

Anonymous said...

LOL! Even if we do purchase a toy with a theme (such as Star Wars Legos), cool transformers or whatever, our youngest eventually (like after about 30 minutes of play tops) takes them apart and turns them into something else anyway. At 2, he took apart a swivel office chair when I wasn't watching him closely because the bottom part would make a lovely propeller for an airplane....

Anyway, we learned early on to watch for toys that were not "single use." As cool as they seem, they became dust collectors in short order. We didn't go to the extreme of "no batteries" but we do try to limit battery or powered toys to ones that have more than single-use purpose.

The best "toys" for our most creative DS are paper towel tubes, large cardboard boxes, wires, clamps, clips, and scraps of wood and building materials from DH's workshop. When 5, our youngest built himself an air hockey table out of a cardboard box, a hairdryer, and found materials.

One thing about "theme" items. We are intentionally NOT avoiding them because our kids are already somewhat singled out as socially different anyway. Having this "common interest" with the kids in school helps to bridge the gap a bit. I've even recently given in and let them watch a little Saturday morning TV too. They need friends, and their school mates don't have many common interests...

Jackie

Anonymous said...

Well... to some extent you have to be willing to spend money or time. KBToys and WalMart have lots of licensed toys inexpensively priced. So, if you want a big electronics set, you'll have to spend some time hunting around and be willing to pay nearly $100. You might spend quite a bit of time reading reviews and talking to gaming people before you settle on challenging games. And you have to make sure that your children have the time to program the robot they built, follow through on the multi-day crystal growing kit, get enough practice with snowshoes, etc. If they don't have large chunks of time to play, it'll be harder to come up with complex options and execute them.