You may have seen in the news lately that lithium batteries are becoming an increasing safety hazard to kids. According to the Los Angeles Times, swallowing a battery can cause: “vocal cord paralysis, esophageal narrowing, and destruction or perforation of the trachea or gastric wall, causing bleeding that can be—and has been—fatal to some children.” In today’s world, it’s hard to find toys that capture a child’s attention like the bleeping, flashing, moving do-dads you see in the toy store. Here are some ideas that require a little imagination and provide hours of fun.
Puppets! Puppets are great for bringing out the inner comedian in your child. Listen to the fun voices they use for the puppets and watch them talk to themselves. Children relate to puppets from their earliest years because they are used to making inanimate characters come to life. They try on personalities and take them off again. The puppet can be whatever the puppeteer and the child make it. It can be the child’s friend without demanding something in return. It can say what the child thinks and feel what the child feels. Ask your kids to put on a puppet show for you and see what they come up with!
Checkers and tic-tac-toe. These simple games go fast, but they require strategy and critical thinking skills. They can also teach kids to take turns and share. Many sets now come with large boards made out of rug so you can play on the floor. The pieces are larger too and less of a choking hazard.
Have a large number of children to entertain? How about a round of bingo? Of course, bingo is the perfect game for groups of all sizes. Great for teaching numbers and letters, you can also use bingo to have kids make geometric shapes (square, railroad tracks). Some experiments say that bingo players were more accurate and faster in tests that measured memory, mental speed and their ability to absorb information from the environment around them, than those who did not play the game. One of the other benefits of bingo for kids is the concept of time. Hand-eye coordination needed for bingo may not be as challenging as for other games, but the time constraint in which players must check their numbers is key to the sustenance of mental agility. Whenever someone makes a bingo, have everyone sing the bingo song!
There are a number of card games that you can teach kids. A popular one uses more than one deck. The cards are divided equally among the players, then the players try to diminish their hand by laying down cards in the order they appear in the deck, face down. The object is for the player to discard all the cards from their hand. This is done by placing one or more cards, ostensibly of a stated value, on the discard pile. Others are allowed to challenge the veracity of the player’s claim about the cards being played. The game has many nicknames, but you can use ‘Kiwi’ or ‘No Way’ or ‘Bluffing’ for the kids.
So try a new activity for your child that doesn’t involve bells, beeping, or batteries! Sometimes an imagination is a child’s best play accessory.