Noisy, battery operated I noticed don't, as a rule encourage this kind of play. (In my children) When the boys had battery toys they smashed the buttons over and over and over again. They crashed them about and played in a dis-organized, more destructive manner. Not to mention the noise and type of play drove me completely up the wall. The noise and the flashing lights seemed to hinder their concentration. Much like having the TV constantly in the background does. Then there is the environmental factors....The ongoing cost of batteries to both the pocket and the environment, the fact that when they break they go to landfill never to break down, the fact that they are not made from sustainable materials.
So after some careful watching and studying of which toys encouraged the type of 'indoor' play I was after, I started encouraging family to support me in this. I talked to them about what I was noticing.
I clarified what I wanted our indoor play space to look like and how I wanted our house to run. I wanted the kids to play without any of us feeling overwhelmed. I wanted play to bring joy, learning and mindfulness rather then chaos, clutter and noise. I believe play is very much a child's work and given the right tools, it can really assist in problem solving and imagination. The thing I noticed about flashing, noisy toys was that the toy dictated how the play was carried out. I noticed the noisy toys enabled my child to not have to think. For us I think it ideally should be the child who creates the game and the story and the toy should simply be a tool to assist the child in their process. We still have some talking toys, but they are the exception now rather then the norm. I am not a purist in any of my thoughts. I take bits and bobs from all places and mold them until I create something that suits our life.
With this in mind I started talking to the boys about how clutter affects both them and I. How too many toys means there is much more tidying, and the time this takes and the fact it takes away from having fun and spending time together. That having "too much" makes it harder to pack up. (And what kid enjoys packing up?!)
I want to provide the boys with a diversity of toys. Not just traditional 'boys' toys. (because seriously, what is that about??) Because I want to raise boys that are sensitive, and that have the opportunity to explore all aspects of themselves. Little boys are highly loving and emotional, They are not all cars/building/crashing and mud. (though there is a lot of that!)
Here is their 'quiet' corner where they can bring their pillows and 'read' their books to unwind.
So I wanted our children's toys to be grouped into categories to make tidying/sorting/finding easier. I wanted them to be diverse so we have both trucks, tools, cars, blocks, dolls, a kitchen and things like that, without it being extreme and unmanageable. I wanted them to be simple so we started being more conscious of the types of toys we put in their space. I started thinking of sustainability so we try to source toys made from timber, or natural fibers. I wanted to support small local people when possible rather then the "big 5" so I try to buy from an educational catalog that helps with fundraising for church, a local market, Etsy, make it myself or fair trade whenever possible. Now I'm not completely rigid to this but this is my goal when ever I can.
This is the bulk of the boys toys. There is Lego in the big blue tub, musical instruments, cars and trucks. The half basket has wooden blocks and other small wooden toys. The baskets at the bottom contain various groups of toys. Puzzles in one, dolls things/dr kit in another, Peppa pig in another and some assorted things in the last.
Both the bedrooms have a few other things but not much. William has his few 'treasures' his rock collection, his collecting cards and the boys have a basket of matchbox cars and a beautiful garage grant built them. There is a large tub of duplo and a train set which we will screw to a board that grant built to go under a bed and then donate the excess. There is too much train set for it to be useful. It will remain constant process for us and we go through toys often to find things to donate.
As you can see we are not toy minimalists. I have beautiful, magical memories of the time I spent creating games in my mind and the hours I spent absorbed in play with my toys. But with three boys in a small house I'm happy with our systems and our various play spaces.