Thursday, 14 January 2010

Choosing Toys

I have had the opportunity this week to apply for some funding for resources that will benefit the children in my care. I was given just six days to put the proposal together and has been hard work but I hope will be worth it!!  It has really made me think hard about the values that I hold and HOW I choose toys.  It was interesting to write the propsal with the EYFS open in fron of me and to see how resources support all the areas of the EYFS, not JUST learning and development.  I made a list of the criteria that I use when selecting equipment, everything I have meets one or more points from this list:
  • Open-ended, meaning that it can be used in a variety of ways, for example, this pine dolls house is plain and simple and could be a house, fire-station, school, temple, shop, castle, whatever the child's imagination wants it to be.  Less can be more when it comes to children's play, as they become creative, rather than having it laid on a plate in front of them.
  • Attractive - it has to call to the child to come and play with it because it is beautiful or intriguing and it meets a need that they have, to explore or express ideas, or role-play.
  • Durable - it needs to be good quality and to last as I intend to be minding for a long time and i don't class toys as consumables!!  It is also important that young children learn to care for the toys they play with and things that look scruffy after just a few months don't encourage that.
  • Inclusive - the doll house mentioned above is inclusive because it can be anything to any child regardless of their background, interests or experiences.  Also under this criteria I look to see whether positive images are portrayed and diverse cultures reflected.
  • Simple, with clear cause and effect - this relates in a big way to the toddler toys that I source.  I want them to isolate one idea at a time, for example, if you press this button, the egg pops up.  This helps young children to make sense of the world and to build a knowledge base upon which they will eventually lay maths and science ideas!  Toys that are all-singing and all-dancing do not promote children's independence as they do not have a clear cut sequence of events that the child can achieve on their own.
I avoid toys that bleep and buzz and sing and have flashing lights for a couple of reasons, one is that I like to support the children's communication skills by talking with them and hearing them babble as they play and for that I need them to be able to listen and become absorbed in their play without distractions.  The second reason is the noise level that is reached when there are several children all playing with different electronic toys.  I find the noise distressing myself and don't personally think that it is very good for the children!

Through this process of thinking, I have come to realise that i do actually have a strong identity for my business and for vision for how it should develop.  It has made me really enthusiatic about pursuing those goals!  I used an auditing tool to look at the different areass of my resources and it was great as a way of assessing that area of my practice under the EYFS.

The photo below is part of my 'toddler shelves' showing some of the resources that I have out at present!

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