What’s Old is New (or Gifts for Your Future Grandchildren)

If you have been following along you will know that my littlest one started kindergarten this year (sniff sniff). One thing that I really love about his school is the way that the teachers work together to try introducing a myriad of unique and creative programs as a team – so you don’t get stuck wishing your kids was in so-and-so’s class. All of the kids get to take advantage of the best that the teachers have to offer.

This year they have been counting the days that they have been at school, and then tallying and bundling each day using drinking straws. In their social studies area they are starting to learn about the 1950s. The kids talk about the music of Elvis Presley, record players, rotary telephones, drag racing and other fun fifties facts. The kids will wrap up their “50s unit” on the fiftieth day of school with a kindergarten wide sock-hop. At the sock hop, all the kids dress up in classic 50s garb, and the kids will rotate through different stations that relate back to some of the materials they have learned. The teachers work together to tie in social studies, math, fine and gross motor skills in one great morning.

I happily volunteered to be on the parent committee, and have been charged with locating 50’s memorabilia for the event. This task has not been as easy as it may sound. Without family nearby with basements full of sentimental favorites, I haven’t had a stock room of old stuff to dig through, and I definitely do not have anything 50s in our house.

After a few frustrating days I asked the head of the committee if we couldn’t set up a table of toys (Yep, I went there) that were invented in the 50s. I thought this was something that the kids might be able to relate to, and items that might be relatively easy for me to locate. When I sat down to do some research I was shocked at what I found – some of the toys that we played with, and that our kids still play with today originated in the 1950s.

My kids have ALL of these toys. While this is certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list, but baby I’m amazed at the staying power of all of these toys. With the invention of ever increasing sophisticated electronics we still have these old time favorites in our playroom (or at least at my in-laws home). So just for giggles I googled toys of the 2000’s. Aside from the obvious electronics (Wii, Xbox, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, etc.) there were only a handful that have stood the test of my kids attention span. New action figures from popular Super Heroes, Zhu Zhu Pets, and more Silly Bandz have made the top level collectibles. Smencils (smelly pencils), mini erasers, new Hot Wheels cars, and Lego figurines have also been popular.

It has then occurred to me that we may just be missing the boat. As parents we often complain that we have to limit the amount of time that we allow our children to watch TV or play with electronics, but we are not giving them new (or classic), sustainable, engaging products. We are relying on generations before us to provide the basics. And while you can see from the 1950s list above, the basics they have created for us almost 60 years ago are fantastic, do we really think that some of the toys of today can compete? Do they even come close? I wonder what toys my kindergartner is going to be presenting to his kids class in thirty years from now?