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?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
Thank you for reading!