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Magic of Classic Outdoor Toys
Hiking through the dense Russian jungle I thrust a trailing vine out of my face and plunged heroically after the line of explorers in front of me. The sound of trickling water captured my attention as I joined a small circle of people where they had stopped, huddled around our leader. "We’ve got a choice to make," he declared and then pointed at the steep, muddy bank and piranha infested waters. "We can cross here or try our luck in the Forbidden Forest."
The hot sun beat down and the unforgiving foliage closed in as we turned to stare at the natural archway formed by grapevines and tree branches. Adventure awaited in both directions, but what to choose? Our fearless leader glanced around at our anxious faces and pronounced, “We must consult the marbles!” He pulled the mysterious marbles from his pocket and scattered them on the ground, then paused to consider our future. After a moment, he announced triumphantly, “Into the forest!” With that, we were off to face the peril of the ‘Forbidden Forest’ and other delightful dangers. It was just then that our mom called us home to dinner!
Magic of Childhood
That perilous quest was quite a long time ago, yet the magic remains. I remember that as a child, adventure was truly around every corner. That forbidden forest was a copse of woods in the middle of our neighborhood and my fellow explorers were brothers and sisters. At other times, my sister and I spent many splendid hours escaping evil orphanage keepers, testing our fairy powers, and becoming world famous gymnasts. The magic was limitless; anything was possible. In the tradition of Peter Pan and the Little Princess my childhood was a magical one. I could be, and was, anyone that I dreamed of becoming.
Quality Not Quantity
As a child, my parents had little money for the newest toys or fads, but they were able to provide the sturdy basics. I grew up pretending that my playset was a pirate ship, a fortress against invaders, a space ship, and countless equally fabulous contraptions. Children love to imagine new games and uses for their toys as they become familiar with them. If accustomed to getting everything they want and using it in the prescribed way, it may take a little bit of help getting their imaginations started. There is no need to buy your kids every new toy on the market, rather look for the ones that will stimulate creativity, spark the imagination, and last for a long time. I remember using my sand pit to design great civilizations or beach resorts for my Barbies. That one sand pit provided us with many hours of enjoyment and since it was large enough for us all, there were few quarrels about sharing it.
Imagination and Sunshine
My purpose here is not to condemn video games and other fashionable toys, but to promote often overlooked healthy activities and classic toys that will stimulate creativity and increase happiness in children. There is no question that playing outside on a space hopper in the sunshine is a superior alternative for kids to sitting inside, behind a computer all day.
From my childhood, I remember how my siblings and I begged my parents to buy a trampoline because of the hours of delight we got from playing on our cousins’ trampoline. And of course, nothing could ever beat the old fashioned swing, which surely must have been the trigger for my favorite dreams about flying over rivers and mountains. These kinds of toys are durable, long lasting, and keep children active and healthy.
Who Needs Television?
Television is appealing because it allows you to sit, watch and be entertained. But, you are not an active participant in the fun, merely an observer. The beauty of our imaginative adventures in the forest or on the play set was that we decided what happened. They also kept us physically active and alert. This is very important for children, who spend a great deal of time sitting in classrooms. They need exercise, so after all that sitting, it is not good for them to come home and watch TV.
Think About It
Remember how magical the world seemed when you were small? Were you a princess locked in a tower? Or an Olympic gold-medalist on your trampoline? You can make your child’s world just as magical. So next time you are looking for the perfect toy, ignore the X-box and check-out the play sets. Or start your child off early and get a baby swing. Who knows, you might just be taken back to the adventure, where the trees really do seem like a forbidden forest and marbles decide your destiny!
Need some more ideas? Visit Just Outdoor Toys for quality classic toys.
About the Author: Annie is a client account specialist for 10x Marketing and a children's welfare advocate.