Friday, December 30, 2011

Free Play, Accidents, and... the Fridge?

NOTE: I wrote this article back in February 2011 to submit to another site. I never did finish it... until I was preparing for my babymoon!

My daughter certainly isn't short on toys. She even has enough that I rotate them out for her. However, I am all about free play with things that aren't considered toys. You know, real life stuff. There are some dangers there, though. For instance, what kinds of plastics do they use to make an oil funnel?

When we picked one up while shopping, Sasha loved playing with it in the basket. Once we got it home, it just made sense to let her have it for a couple days before using it (especially considering how lazy we are about the truck). Then she was walking with it and tripped. The small end of the funnel hit right in the center of her forehead. Ouch! Poor dear had a small circle on her forehead for a couple of days.

We haven't had any hospital visits from dangerous toys, but then we try to use common sense and we watch her more closely if it is something that isn't already "baby friendly."

One of Sasha's favorite places to play lately? The refrigerator! So what do you do if your kid wants to play with your groceries? Well, I've let her. It started with moving things to different shelves. Then she started just pulling stuff out and putting it on the floor. Still, I let her play in the fridge for a few minutes at a time. She enjoyed it and no harm done. Until I found a package of Laughing Cow Cheese and a container of cucumber sticks in a cabinet. Ew! So we still let her play in the fridge, but we have to keep a closer eye on her.

Sasha in FridgeSasha (1½yo) in the Fridge
February 2011

She seems more familiar with the fridge contents now, including what she can generally have. So now she asks us to open the door and gets out my Garlic & Herb cheese. She closes the door, then hands it to me. I get her a bite of cheese, hand it to her, seal the bag, hand it back, and open the fridge again. She puts the cheese back where she got it and closes the door again. It makes for a fun little game and encourages me to have more snacks readily available for her. (Have suggestions for me?)

This game has also now carried over a bit elsewhere. We kept our kitchen garbage can on top of a step stool... until she got tall enough to put toys into it anyway. Now the trash can is in the pantry. I can give her any garbage and ask her to throw it away. Once I open the Pantry door, she will throw it away and close the door.

I am not real sure what, exactly, she is learning through her free play choices, but I try to remember that most anything she does is teaching her something.

What strange things have become toys in your household?


  1. Great post! It seems that "real" toys are always so much more fun than the brightly-colored kids' versions of real things. This post so reminds me of John Holt's "How Children Learn". In the book, he often writes about kids' reactions to his typewriter. He just sets the thing up and watches to see what happens. His conclusion is the basis for unschooling: Children will be interested in REAL thins because they are learning to become adults. They will follow those interests as long as we make the tools that go with them (such as an oil funnel and the fridge) available.

  2. She is learning to control her world, and that's awesome.

    Around here, it was the "spaceship" vegetable steamer... the kind that has petals that fold in like a flower. Just take the feet off first. They unscrew.

  3. She is so cute :)

    We are similar in encouraging 'real stuff' play and our little quite enjoys getting into the fridge too; I usually let her for a minute or two and then she helps me shut the door. She also likes to help 'load' the dishwasher with all kinds of things, and loves cupboards, so we've designated one as her cupboard that she has a ball taking things out of and putting things into. I won't let her be playing with my laptop again anytime soon though, now that I no longer have an enter key (I too was inspired by How Children Learn but sadly laptops don't seem to be as hardy as the old typewriters!). :)

  4. My littlest loves the fridge right now, he likes to take the jars and put them in the dishwasher (perhaps because we use jars as drinking glasses) - but cardboard boxes are still the number one toy around here- I posted about it a while back


Who doesn't love comments? Please let me know you stopped by and share your thoughts on the topic at hand.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...