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Fewer Toys? Are You Crazy?. Think about it… when you were a child, what was one of your favorite things to do?. Were any toys involved in your favourite activity? Probably not. Most people describe their favourite activities as playing outdoors… tag, building forts, climbing trees…

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Fewer Toys? Are You Crazy?

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Fewer toys are you crazy

Fewer Toys? Are You Crazy?


Think about it when you were a child what was one of your favorite things to do

Think about it…when you were a child, what was one of your favorite things to do?


Fewer toys are you crazy

Were any toys involved in your favourite activity?

Probably not. Most people describe their favourite activities as playing outdoors… tag, building forts,

climbing trees…

being in the natural world.


Jean jacques rousseau 1762

“Leave childhood to ripen

in your children.”

Jean-Jacques Rousseau1762


Fewer toys are you crazy

This presentation is about an

early childhood program’s experience of observing children, taking risks and delighting in the wonder

of children’s play.


It all began

…in Red River College’s Early Childhood Education Workplace Program, an introductory course on play and an article called: “Daycare Without Toys”

  • By Anna Rubinowicz-Grundler

  • Translated by Ewa Maik (2003), ECE student

It all began…


Fewer toys are you crazy

The article described the initiative

of Elke Schubert & Rainer Strick from Weilheim Schongau, a small Bavarian district in Germany.

Their initiative involved offering blocks of time in kindergarten programs where toys are “retired”.


The authors considered the following points

  • There is an overall lack of time during the day that is at a child’s discretion

  • There are more restrictions on children’s freedom in general

  • Children are continually confronted with products offered by consumer goods industries

  • Many times, children’s problems & frustrations are dealt with by being offered some kind of ‘consolation’ i.e. toys

  • Toys are the most popular consumer articles of children

The authors consideredthe following points…


Fewer toys are you crazy

“Large corporations create most

children’s toys and materials, which

often serve as commercials for TV

programs. They come with a theme and

script, or a particular way to use them.

How do these toys provide for children’s

investigation, imagination, or creativity?

In most cases, they rarely do.”

Carter & Curtis (1996) Reflecting Children’s Lives. p. 28

Toys


About toys

“After German consolidation we

experienced an overflow of toys.

Everybody had to have Barbie

dolls, Lego blocks, cars and

board games. We survived the

Power Rangers craze, even two

year old girls were fighting over

them.”

About toys…

Marianne Bruckardt (Director of an east Berlin daycare) cited in “Daycare Without Toys” by A. Rubinowicz-Grundler. Translated by Ewa Maik.

Picture: www.olgahorvat.com


Fewer toys are you crazy

“Children did not talk to each other at

all, and also did not have any

concept how to play together.”

Sieglinde Graetz as cited in “Daycare Without Toys”

by A. Rubinowicz-Grundler. Translated by Ewa Maik

spunkyhomeschool.blogspot.com


Fewer toys are you crazy

“It was felt that…

  • with the wealth of offerings

  • the consumer orientation at kindergarten facilities as well as at home

  • the observable boredom despite or because of superabundance

  • the lack of perseverance &

  • quick frustration

    … the [no toys kindergarten] project aims at recreating scope for playing as well as fantasy and creativity.”

    Schubert & Strick


Fewer toys are you crazy

The “retiring toys” approach is not

against toys per se rather, it is

based on a belief that removing

toys for a limited time period

(approx. 3 months) helps foster

important life skills.


Life skills such as

  • effective communication abilities

  • creative thinking

  • problem-solving skills

  • cooperativeness

  • self-assertiveness

  • self-esteem

Life skills such as…


Fewer toys are you crazy

Could we “retire” some toys in our program?

How would the children respond?

At Lakewood Children’s Centre, they asked…


Spring break march 2004

  • Children (6 year olds) were prepared by explaining that some of the toys would be put away during the spring break week.

  • The children asked “What do you mean?”

Spring BreakMarch 2004


Spring break march 20041

A variety of open-ended

materials were added:

  • different sizes of boxes

  • milk cartons

  • different types of tape

  • Styrofoam pieces

  • markers, string

Spring BreakMarch 2004


Loose parts

“Loose parts is a term coined by architect

Simon Nicholson, to refer to open-ended

materials that provide opportunities for

transporting, transforming and using one’s

experience and imagination. Given the

chance, children will use loose parts as

invented props to support their play and

investigation of the world.”

Curtis and Carter (1996) Reflecting Children’sLives. p. 28

Loose Parts


Children s reactions

  • At first children asked the staff “What do we do?”

  • Then children would check their ideas and look for approval from the early childhood educators.

  • Gradually the children began playing on their own and with others.

Children’s reactions


15 for soy sauce

$15 for soy sauce

Click to play

Click to play


A guy and a puppet

A guy and a puppet

Click to play


Baby jaguars

Baby jaguars

Click to play


Campfire stories

Campfire Stories

Click to play


What the early childhood educators observed 2004

For the short time it was

implemented, we noticed:

  • more cooperative play

  • more imaginative play

  • less involvement of adults

  • less noise in the room

What the Early Childhood Educators observed2004


Spring break march 2005

  • Once again, children (5-6 year olds) were prepared and consulted

  • Children were asked what materials they wanted in the room

Spring BreakMarch 2005


Boxes were the favourite

Boxes were the favourite


March 2005

March 2005


Wheels on the box

Wheels on the box

Click to play

Click to play


March 20051

March 2005

Click to play


March 20052

A big house and “fort”

March 2005


Fewer toys are you crazy

Diva

Click to play


What the early childhood educators observed 2005

  • more cooperative play and turn-taking

  • more conversations

  • more “what if..” – imaginative and problem-solving play

  • children’s joy in what they were doing

  • little or no need to ‘guide’ children’s behaviour

What the Early Childhood Educators observed2005


January 2006

Let’s do it again!

January 2006

Click to play


It s all mine

It’s all mine!

Click to play


The band

The Band

Click to play


Pop goes the weasel

Pop goes the weasel!

Click to play


Building a village

Building a village

Click to play


Paperbag princess

Paperbag Princess

Click to play


What the early childhood educators observed 2006

Like previous experiences:

  • there was more cooperation & creativity in the children’s play.

  • children usually started off with individual pursuits i.e. claiming boxes, but soon children started working together – a community cooperating, building and playing.

What the Early Childhood Educators observed 2006


Spring break march 2006

Spring BreakMarch 2006

Click to play


Spring break march 20061

What would older children think of this idea?

Spring Break March 2006

Click to play


Spring break march 20062

What really happened…

Spring Break March 2006

Click to play


Making wings

Making wings

Click to play


Big guys and boxes

Big guys and boxes

Click to play


Did you know

In 2005, the cardboard box was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

“Inside a big cardboard box, a child is transported to a world of his or her own, one where anything is possible.”

www.strongmuseum.org/NTHoF/box. html

Did you know?


Removing the toys

  • Promoted interactions & communication between children

  • Fostered negotiation and problem-solving

  • Enhanced creative thought & play and children “learned how to fight boredom”

    Schubert & Strick

Removing the toys…


Findings

  • children were more focused

  • longer attention spans

  • more interaction and communication with each other

  • more negotiation and problem-solving

  • more intense and longer creative play periods

  • more stories told by children

    Schubert & Strick

Findings


Fewer toys are you crazy

“Do we, in our consumption society,

take for granted that we are glutted

with consumer articles to such an

extent that it comes as a sensation

when this situation is changed

for a (limited) period of time by

providing time and space for children

to grasp their normal selves again?”

Schubert & Strick

Think about it…


What do you think

  • Are there too many toys surrounding our children?

  • Do toys somehow change the dynamics of children’s interactions?

What do you think?


Fewer toys are you crazy

“We talk too much, all of us, and observe and live with children far too little”

An Adventure with Children (1985)

Mary HammettLewis


Website

For more information about the

Toy-free Kindergarten project in

Germany, visit:

www.spielzeugfreierkindergarten.de/pdf/englisch.pdf

Website


For more information

Shawna Wilton

Lakewood Children’s

Centre

Ph: 204-832-5802

Email:

[email protected]

Jamie Koshyk

Early Childhood

Education

Workplace Program

Red River College

Ph: 204-632-3070

Email:

[email protected]

For more information


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