When we owned our house one of Joshua's favorite things to do was to play in the sandbox we had set up for him in the backyard. On his second birthday we gave him the sandbox and some trucks. He loved it! Actually, that's an understatement. Despite mosquitoes, rain, snow, wind, or any other parental deterrent, Joshua always wanted to play in the sandbox. As a matter of fact, when we were contemplating selling the house, the sandbox was a topic of discussion of how we would replace it. One of the first things we set up in our apartment when we moved in was a sandbox on the balcony. Dividends from this foresight paid off handsomely over the years here as he's spent countless pleasurable hours out there digging to his hearts content.
To ease our minds during seasonally difficult times to be outside, Jan and I wanted to come up with a similar activity Joshua could do inside. Over time, and with some insight from his classrooms at school, we created an equally sized box in the kitchen that we filled with Rice. It's just as Digable as sand, causes less of a mess inside, and does not rot unless exposed to water. Joshua will play in the rice box on cold, rainy, or excessively hot days, and often at night when it's too late to go outside to play. Yes, rice does still come out of the box, but that's what brooms and vacuum cleaners are for.
Between the 2 boxes (1 sand and 1 rice) we spent a total of $30 for the 2 boxes, the 2 bags of sand, and the 1 bag of rice. Yet, despite this incredibly huge sum, Joshua has likely spent over 4000 hours playing in them over the course of time we've lived here. I know of no other toy he possesses, or could ever possess that could so positively occupy his time, and ours. Jan and I are often at his side digging with the trucks with him.
As we contemplate moving away from the apartment there is no question that the boxes are coming with us. We've never been the kind to have high-class fancy smancy kitchens that are all ordered, neat, and showy. Instead, we have a large box of rice with digger trucks in our kitchen, and another on our balcony with sand. We'll do that for as long as Joshua enjoys having them around.
What this taught us is that the best toys and activities are sometimes the most easy to create. Joshua also loves boxes, the cardboard rolls inside of paper towels and wrapping paper, excess cut wood, and tree branches. A good digger truck combined with these items could keep the guy, and his parents, busy for very long periods of time!
What kind of natural toys do your kids enjoy?
Would you live with a rice box in your kitchen?
What creative ideas have you built for your kid to play?