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Pink Guns

UnknownSemi-new action toys have come out, and they’re pink.  The color pink has become controversial in its own right, but throwing weaponry into the mix brings up a whole new set of dialogue, “Why pink? Why weapons? Should girls and boys be playing out aggression? Are weapons bad? Are pink weapons bad? Is aggression good?…” Where I live, most parents are anti-fake weapon play.  The mere pointing of a stick with the added “pow-pow” nearly brings parents to tears, likely fearing this role-play is somehow indicative of their parenting and the adult their kid will grow up to be.  I am not apart of this mode of thinking. Kids role-play all sorts of things, they pretend to be a dog or a turtle, and yet we don’t fear children will grow up to have be “furries” or “plushies”. cc_subculture_lead_130220_wmain Nerf Rebelle Heartbreaker Exclusive Golden Edge Bow by Hasbro is being talked about simply because it’s pink.  Toy weaponry is old hat. The focal point of the new weaponry toys is that they’re pink.  Nerf guns have been around for years, in varying blues, oranges, greens and blacks, and while Nerf guns have suffered some criticism revolving around the presumed aggression, or warfare the gun may promote, I can assure you the criticism never once revolved around the color.  Unknown-1 So why now? Why does pink, and all things typically female create such cultural upheaval?  We all know the argument against pink, I’ve written about it before, i.e., “pink is bad, it upholds gender stereotyping and women’s oppression.” Or something like this. First of all, a color cannot do these things, that’s just absurd.  Second of all, we shouldn’t look at something that loosely represents an idea of “female”, and chastise it, we should embrace it and change whatever negative meaning it might have held. In order to progress, and continue equality among men we need to actually think that Women are equal, and not place blame on things like pink, makeup, tight clothes, etc., to each their own.  And while I don’t wear pink or know how to properly apply make-up, I also don’t think that these things in anyway represent, or are cause for women’s oppression. I urge you to think about this topic. Consider what the color pink and weaponry play means to you, and why.  Read the New York Times post I linked to about the new “girl” Nerf guns, written by Hilary Stout and Elizabeth A. Harris.  I’d love to see some comments about this topic!

Who Needs to be Artistic?

You don’t have to be artistically inclined, or creatively adept, to create a fun activity or toy for your children.  I’m speaking from experience.  You know those nannies who are amazingly artistically talented? The ones who draw beautiful portraits along side your child?  The ones who skillfully and effortlessly think of ways to use the left-over yarn, old clothes, to make an art project? Well, I’m sadly not one of those nannies.

But I try not to let this fact get me down.  I still draw alongside your children, my pictures just look like exact replicas of your 2-year-old’s. I’m still creative in theory, though my creations never look the way I imagine, which is something like this….

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instead they look more like this…..

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The thing is, it doesn’t matter.  There are still plenty of activities for people like me.. and you to do.

Like I said, I still do all of the art stuff, and it’s fun! The thing I’m good at is being outdoors and going on fun, educational outings.  I love to take the child I watch (and past children I’ve nannied) to parks, where we can discuss nature, touch grass, dig in the mud, find walking sticks (I’m a pro at finding a good, solid, walking stick.)  We often take home some goods from nature, like leaves, flowers, sticks, and rocks.  And through some kind of miracle, I can usually think of some potentially magnificent art and educational project to make out of these things.   Though the outcome tends to be mediocre, the process is just as fun as it would be if I were artistically inclined….at least that’s what I tell myself.

Outing Ideas:

I live in New York City, so outing ideas are basically endless here.  We take trips to parks, which often have a free nature center, museums: including children’s, nature and art museums. We go to Zoo’s, Botanical Gardens, book stores, etc.  Destinations spots are also great, trips to the Hudson or East rivers, Coney Island, different playgrounds, simply walking around.  Most of the things listed here you can find anywhere you live.

Outing’s depend on where you live, but in general trips to book stores with a good kid selection is a great outing, especially on a rainy day. Museums are great, check out if your city has a children’s museum, there are tons of fun and educational activities in children’s museums, also don’t hesitate to bring them to art museums.  You might not be able to stay for as long as you would want, but still worth the trip!

Toys Toys Toys

UnknownDo you depend too heavily on made for baby/toddler toys? It’s easy to use solely store-bought toys, especially when given to you for free at baby showers, but maybe it’s time to step back, and look in your house and outside for the stimulation your kids need.

You really don’t have to stock up on a ton of baby-deemed toys (other than books) to get your child’s interest, house-ware can be just as stimulating, if not more so.  From my many years of experience with infant-3 years I’ve found that they are most stimulated, and interested in real-world, purposeful objects around the house.  Bookshelves and the books in them become a mecca for defining fine motor skills, i.e., taking the books out and putting them back.

For infants and toddlers, gaining physical control of their bodies is a huge educational feat, from rolling over and reaching for objects, to fine motor-skills, like holding a crayon, so I try to make sure activities and toys influence them physically. Reaching for a stuffed animal or textured, colorful towel is good for their motor skills. As they get older, and more physically capable, putting objects inside each other serves a similar purpose.  You can buy blocked/stackable toys, but you can also use different sized tupperware or boxes to create the same effect.

What I look for in a toy or house-hold made toy is that it serves 1 of the 5 senses, touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight.  Most store bought toys easily include touch and sight, when hearing is involved the sounds emanating from said toy are usually arbitrary.  Music around your house would be much for influential, for tonal patterns, beats and rhythm, and, lets face it, far more enjoyable for the adults.  My point is, infants and toddlers need to be stimulated, consistently with objects, things and people that influence their 5 senses, and most of the time you can find these things in your house.

When we depend solely on store-bought toys we can easily forget about 2 senses which are typically excluded, smell and taste. It also becomes easy to assume that “educational” toys are doing the education, so we don’t have to. But this isn’t true, as parents and caregivers we need to consistently talk about what they are doing, seeing, touching, hearing, smelling and tasting.  It’s fun to think about all of the educational resources around us at all times that we, as adults take for granted, but will thoroughly intrigue and stimulate our babies.

Touch/physical:  Textured objects, this can be anything, cloth, wood, plants/flowers, rocks, paper, etc. When your baby starts to eat solids this is an amazing time for them to explore textures, and amazingly it includes all 5 senses! Hearing? Yes, if you consider the noise of squishing their food, or smacking a spoon against their plate, and adults talking about the food your baby is eating. Everything I listed can be easily found in house, or outside, i.e, plants, flowers, rocks.

Taste: Taste is something store-bought toys do not have (I don’t think….) As I said above, food is a great educational source, because it stimulates all senses.  When your baby is eating, talk about the food, what the food is, the texture and the taste.

Smell: Flowers, soap, food: Smell is also something typically excluded from store-bought toys, so we have to go in house or outside for these resources.

Hearing/Language: Music, books, drumming on objects in the house…really anything, toy or otherwise can stimulate language, all we have to do as adults is talk about what they are seeing, i.e., colors, animals, numbers, etc.

Sight: Everything!! You don’t need to buy colorful toys (you can, but you don’t need to) everything in your house and outside when coupled with some kind dialogue can stimulate sight awareness.

Some store-bought toys I do like: BOOKS!! Puzzles and blocks, and art supplies.

Examples of toys I find useless: Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes, Fisher-Price Go Baby Go! Poppity Pop Musical Dino,

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