Create and Play - Unstructured Toys
The toys we buy ready are called structured toys and usually have a specific purpose. They are very attractive, though, almost uninteresting because they limit children's abilities.
When we think of toys we soon imagine those super toy shops of all sizes, shapes and colors, for all ages. From the simplest to the most exquisite. The media seduce children with advertisements and parents struggle to meet requests. The rooms are becoming more and more crowded with trinkets that often no longer hold children's attention and are not shared either.
These toys that we buy ready are called structured toys and usually have a specific purpose. They are very attractive, though, almost uninteresting because they limit children's abilities.
In contrast, so-called "wide-reach" or "unstructured" toys have numerous advantages. They are called so because they are produced at home, by the child himself, from materials characterized by their plasticity, that is, by the capacity to become many things. They have little or no cost and contribute to the environment through the reuse of objects. Most importantly, they offer children plenty of play possibilities, they stimulate creativity, imagination and more.
Playing with unstructured materials helps in the development of intelligence and learning and enables the child to explore their abilities. Activities that require the child to structure his or her own toy or play allow some cognitive functions to be stimulated, because in order to be structured they will need organization, planning, cognitive flexibility, attention maintenance, operational memory and various other mental abilities. According to neuroscience, when far reaching materials are placed at the child's disposal, their ability to invent is more valued and the process of experimentation and discovery fuels their brain connections.
Some examples of unstructured materials are: cloths, bottles, cans, caps, cardboard boxes, pieces of wood, jars of various shapes, popsicle sticks, egg cartons, paper rolls, buttons, rope, string, nature elements (stones, leaves, sand, earth, sticks), etc. The greater the versatility, the greater the diversity of symbolic games.
The materials activate the creative process of the children, in the transformation of objects and the spaces for the joke. It is an invitation to investigate, research, ascertain knowledge about the physical property of objects and the possibilities of action on them. While children are engaged in the exploitation of materials, the adult (parents and educators) has the role of making interventions that instigate children's thinking using concepts such as: quantity, relationships between much and little, major and minor, above and below ...
It is certain that the child is going to have lots of fun besides valuing a toy produced by himself. A differentiated affective value, where it becomes a producer of culture and not a simple consumer of products.
Use your imagination and have fun!