Play Up Your Child’s Imagination and Creativity with “No Battery” Gifts

iStock 000015324221XSmall Play Up Your Childs Imagination and Creativity with No Battery GiftsRemember that thing you played with all the time when you were a kid?  It was with you from sun up till sun down.  You didn’t buy it at any toy store… it was free.  And it’s what could turn an empty box into a dollhouse or a broom handle into a light saber.

Where can you find this long-lost treasure?  It’s still with you – if you take the time to encourage it…

Your imagination – would your childhood have been the same without it?  And do you ever feel like our children’s generation is really missing out on the simple, creative joys of life?

From the day your child is born, you’re bombarded with singing, blinking, interactive toys with slick marketing campaigns to convince you the advantages of “starting education early.”  I wasn’t immune to the claims.  When our son was a few weeks old, we asked our birth doula her opinion of black and white toys for visual stimulation.  She kindly told us, “He’s been in a dark, quiet place for nine months… the world itself is enough stimulation for him right now.”

It’s amazing how a little perspective can add wisdom and common sense to your whole parenting mindset, isn’t it?  Her response gave us the belief in ourselves as parents, to trust our own instincts rather than the commercials and magazine ads.  It also gives us the strength to stand firm when our boys ask for the latest handheld video game or toys that walk, talk, and require no imagination on their part.

Many parents don’t realize that no battery toys contribute to early childhood education. Wooden shape sorters and kid-sized puzzles and are a great way to boost critical thinking as well as problem-solving skills.  They also foster a sense of satisfaction in doing things “all by myself,” as the independent toddler likes to announce.

For kids with autism, no battery toys encourage pretend play and can give them an edge with their social skills.  Also, babies and children tend to play longer with a no battery toy as compared to one that does everything for them.  Try this experiment with your child and see for yourself.

Why battery-powered toys are not eco-friendly toys

When you choose toys that allow your child to think for herself, you’re usually doing the planet a favor as well.  The environmental downside of battery-powered children’s toys is worth considering:

  • Energy use: If you use rechargeable batteries, you’re plugging them into a charger and using electricity to restore them to their full energy capacity. But as you can imagine, unless you have solar panels, this contributes to air pollution and climate change.
  • Battery waste: Americans go through close to 150,000 tons of battery waste every single year. Most of these batteries contain heavy metals, many of which are toxic to make and toxic when not properly disposed. They can be recycled, which is preferable to sending them to the landfill, but this requires yet more energy.
  • Microchip toxins: If it’s battery-powered, it’s likely fitted with at least one microchip. The process of creating microchips is incredibly toxic, involving hazardous gases, chemicals, and massive amounts of water. It also results in lots of hazardous waste, all of which pollute the environment.
  • Toy waste: Once the batteries run out (some are built right in) or the toy breaks (and unlikely become not repairable), it turns into a pile of plastic, metal, toxic waste.

One of the best times to make an impact on your child’s toy box is when his or her birthday rolls around.  No Battery Birthdays can add fun – and a little challenge – to your gift giving routine.  How can you make a Battery-Free Birthday that’s a blast?

How to spot fun, battery-free toys for your kids

So, what kinds of non-battery-powered toys will your kids just love? Consider some of these classic options for battery-free toys:

  • Wood blocks and puzzles: Try to find wood that’s harvested sustainably with either the FSC-certified stamp of approval or from salvaged wood materials.
  • Art supplies: Stimulate your child’s inner creativity with artist supplies such as paper, paints, crayons, chalk, glue, and so on. Just be sure to look for recycled content paper, recycled magazines, nontoxic paints, soy-based crayons, nontoxic glues, and other natural supplies. We love Eco Paint from EcoPartyTime.
  • Dress up clothes: One of the most fun activities for children is to make believe you’re someone else. Help your kids dress up by buying secondhand clothing and accessories from your local thrift store. This is an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to help your kids become princesses, wizards, dragons, and mini-brides.
  • Putty dough: Make your own squishy putty or dough that will let your kids sculpt their way out of boredom.  There are many recipes online for natural dough you can make at home. If DIY is not your thing, give Eco Do a try.
  • Books: Learning about the planet is one of the best ways to stimulate a green attitude in your children. Buy them some books on earthly themes, like wildlife, oceans, forests, gardening, or science! They’ll be entertained while being educated.

If your child is willing to forego gifts, ask guests to bring dog or cat toys for your local animal shelter, or another cause kids enjoy supporting.  If you’re looking for a unique party experience, have the kids gather to donate the supplies so they can see the difference their gifts make.

Best of all, make it fun and don’t worry too much about being perfect.  Your child will follow your lead, so why not let your imagination run wild?

PinExt Play Up Your Childs Imagination and Creativity with No Battery Gifts
  • Anonymous

    Excellent Amity! Great information for parents that points out the power of imagination, both theirs and in their children. I especially love the point that you make that children will indeed follow their parent’s lead…however it is equally important to note that parents should be open to allowing their children to lead as well…how many of us found the best fun making mud pies, creating entire “meals” with a few leaves, pine cones and mud!!! And of course the greatest joy was “serving” our creations to our parents! Great job!

  • Karen Brooks

    This brought back so many memories of my childhood years. We didn’t have the money for any expensive toys and yes indeed, my imagination went wild with what I had to play with.

    Amazing what a box or a few pieces of paper turned I to in my mind!

  • Michele M Tremblay

    Dear Amity,
    I didn’t need to read this post to realize that I would love your message, I knew it by the title. There is nothing like quiet time when you can let your imagination do all of the work and think up new contraptions or reinvent old ones. 
    A favorite inspiration in my house was always Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem “Block City”.  WHAT are you able to build with your blocks? Castles and palaces, temples and docks. Rain may keep raining, and others go roam, But I can be happy and building at home.   Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea,         5There I’ll establish a city for me: A kirk and a mill and a palace beside, And a harbour as well where my vessels may ride.   Great is the palace with pillar and wall, A sort of a tower on the top of it all,  10And steps coming down in an orderly way To where my toy vessels lie safe in the bay.   This one is sailing and that one is moored: Hark to the song of the sailors on board! And see on the steps of my palace, the kings  15Coming and going with presents and things.   Now I have done with it, down let it go! All in a moment the town is laid low. Block upon block lying scattered and free, What is there left of my town by the sea?  20  Yet as I saw it, I see it again, The kirk and the palace, the ships and the men, And as long as I live and where’er I may be, I’ll always remember my town by the sea.GREAT POST!!!

  • Amity Hook-Sopko

    That’s a great point, Denny.  One of our favorite games was when my little guy was 4, and he climbed inside a box just close enough to the front door where he could reach out and knock on it. The whole family went along with his game that he was a kitten named Eleanor that had been dropped off at our house.  We’ve had so many cats dropped off, we’re up to Eleanor Number 167!!  We’ll never forget it though :)
    Thanks for your comment.  It means a lot when someone with your experience affirms how important it is that we are “awake” as we parent.

  • Olga

    One of the things that I liked in my childhood and that my children liked as well were blankets and sheets to make their own little “house” and dress up like a king or a queen with just a few accessories. We always thought it was so important for them to play with “non plastic items”. I loved watching them bringing out so much creativity and especially when they approached us to play along. Beautiful memories!

  • Elvie Look

    You forgot to put cardboard boxes and the old Eaton’s catalogue… LOL Of course it would be the Sears catalogue today. That is what we played with. :D Great article, loved the message. Agree totally.

  • Anonymous

    One thing that really intrigues me is the human brain.  I’ve read a lot about how mine is wired a little differently because I grew up in a foreign country, so learned two languages at the same time.  (That means everything had two names and I had to sort out which was which when speaking.  I spoke Portuguese in the kitchen, and English in the rest of the house.)  Well, when I read this, I wondered what the long-term differences will be between children who are allowed to develop their own imagination versus those that are entirely stimulated by external, electronic things.  Especially now that babies start out with iPads.  I saw a little 2-year-old trying to “enlarge” a photo behind glass with her two little fingers …

  • Wil

    Yes, remembering childhood, long time past…Our games were fueled with imagination and impromptu “rules.” All kinds of wonderful qualities emerged that helped later in life.

  • Peekaboonaturaltoys

    Peek-a-boo Natural Toys & Accessories happy to share the same philosophy. It is nice to see more of us care about our the World. We are here to help parents to have chemical-free, zero footprint, heirloom, and organic toys and clothing for their love ones. 

  • Pingback: Greener and Leaner Birthday Celebrations | Green Kids Guide

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