Real, quality, child-sized tools. To play, create, and learn.
The best toys, resources and creative materials are those which are tools that children can use to transform their evolving ideas into something tangible. I believe most of the best ‘toys’ are not toys at all.
I’ve talked about the importance of open-ended materials (including loose parts play) before. Another crucial (in my opinion) but often overlooked group of materials are real tools. As with quality, real art materials and real life experiences for children, real tools offer more and are worth the investment.
The notion of using real, child-sized materials is very prominent in the Montessori method. However, using them in an open-ended sense (and in imaginative play), is much more aligned with the Reggio approach of learning. Both learning approaches are important to us as parents and home educators.
When Cameron turned four recently, it was time for his immunisations. He knew this from watching his cousin (who is only 5 months older than him) and was apprehensive about it. For Christmas, I created this ‘Doctor kit’ for him to explore, learn about, and play with. When it came time to get his needles, he was more focused on the tools involved and the things he had learned.
In his kit I included:
Manual blood pressure cuff*
As well as bandaids, tongue depressors, etc, and a clip board and markers.
*(we got the adult one because more often than not it’s an adult patient in this house, but you can purchase a child-sized cuff)
I also created a free doctor role play pretend prescription printable which Cameron has loved using in imaginative play.
I have found that the use of real tools naturally leads to real and meaningful learning experiences.
Real tools provide interest, give children a sense of pride, and help them grow self-awareness and self-control. It is empowering for children to be given this level of responsibility. Giving them real tools, rather than pretend toys, honours the child’s abilities and intelligence and sends the message that they are capable and competent learners and experimenters.
What tools do you provide for your children?
Obligatory safety disclaimer: With real tools, there are some risks. Supervise your child/ren. You know your child better than anyone.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Thank you for reading!
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Stephanie Faus says
I’m interested in learning how to purchase this kit. Please reply to email above. Thank you!
All links in the post. It wasn’t a pre-made kit :)
Inspiring play space Rachel! My son absolutely loves playing Doctors and this play space with real tools would be amazing and I know would inspire him to new levels of play and learning! Since reading all of the posts during your Transform Your Play series I am more and more disgruntled with the amount of coloured plastic in our house. I guess change will take time, but until then I can continue to be inspired by all of the lovely spaces and experiences that you blog about.
jenn choi says
Love this post! I do the same but you take it several steps further! fantastic! I once found an otoscope for a dollar but my kid broke it. sigh…. those are actually quite useful! darn.
What a bargain! darn! Thanks for reading and commenting. I love your posts on tools as toys. So inspiring. So glad to see you over here Jenn :)
Bonnie Frank a.k.a. LadyBlogger says
Thanks for this great post! I have pinned it to my “children” board on Pinterest with other great activities for kiddos.
Thank you so much for pinning, reading and commenting Bonnie :D
Kate - An Everyday Story says
This is really great Rach :) When Jack was three a friend of ours made him a doctors dress-up kit. It was amazing. He loved it (still loves it). She made him a little doctors’ shirt with Dr. Jack embroidered on the pocket and made him a little doctors’ bag with real tools and bandages and things in it. It was wonderful. Just like your set-up. Not much beats real tools :)
What a brilliant gift idea! Thank you for reading and commenting Kate :)
Still Playing School says
What a great resource and experience!
We sure enjoyed ourselves :D Thanks for reading and commenting – I truly appreciate it!
Emma @ P is for Preschooler says
I believe this is so true, when the kids are old enough. (Baby with a hammer – bad idea! lol!) My daughter is 4 and we put together a similar doctor’s kit with basic doctor things and she got some real tools and a tool bag for Christmas. I think kids feel more grown-up when using “real” things and they are more careful because of it.
LOL baby + hammer! I think so too Emma, thank you for reading :D
Kylie @ Octavia and Vicky says
I love this so much. Pinned and shared and looking to implement something similar in my classroom :)
We’ll be expanding on this. Thank you for reading and sharing. I really appreciate your comments Kylie :D
Awesome! How fun! I want to come play too!
Thank you Lisette, I’ll admit that I had almost as much fun with it as Cam did :P Thanks for reading and commenting!