100 Toys and you: Katie's story
My son is almost four so when I first started following One Hundred Toys on Instagram I wondered if I might be too late to the party. He’s been given a mountain of plastic toys and we had a playroom full of stuff already.
But I knew I wanted to be more environmentally responsible with his toys and to improve his childhood play experiences. While I couldn’t justify simply getting rid of everything and replacing it with beautiful wooden toys, following One Hundred Toys on Instagram inspired me to think differently about the toys we put out to play with, and to make what we think are better requests at Christmas and birthdays.
It gave me the confidence to move away from plastic and more obvious toys to things which have lead to a better quality of play. Slowly the balance is shifting and mixed in amongst the plastic now are more open-ended items, many of them some people probably wouldn’t even consider toys! Here are three of the best:
Jumbo Jenga-style blocks
We bought these for our son to play with at our allotment but they have never left the house because he uses them every single day, multiple times. He builds castles, garages, dens, roads, runways, forests, you name it! We've previously had coloured bricks which he wasn't at all bothered by but these ones are such a hit and get incorporated into so many games. My husband and I love them too! Perhaps because they are neutral they lend themselves to anything more readily than coloured ones, where blue tends to be water, green is grass and yellow is sand etc. (The allotment is also one of the best things that we've ever done in terms of play and experiences for our son but that's a whole other story!!)
In a moment of weakness recently I succumbed to a tantrum and bought my son a bag of 30 bouncy balls (side note, I was 39 weeks pregnant! I'm also human!!). While embarrassed by the non-eco genesis of this purchase it's worked out really well. The balls are all different colours and a few slightly different sizes and our son has used them for sorting into different categories, is starting to line them up to form letters, he shoots them down cardboard tubes and through his block mazes, puts them inside boxes to shake to make music and recognises different numbers of balls and different containers make different sounds and volumes. He has also used them as ‘fire bolts’ to throw at his wooden castles when playing dragons. They are also versatile and fun to play with in the bath as some float and others don't.
I originally bought washi tape in bright colours to liven up wrapping paper since I use brown recycled/able paper and not new printed stuff. But it was soon commandeered and has found many uses: we stick it to the carpet to make roads and town layouts for cars to drive round; it's a great art supply to stick to pictures (I cut small pieces for him and he used them like mosaic tiles); and it's also useful for games of mechanics and doctors. Who knew that a broken engine just needs some green tape and a few bangs with a screwdriver?!