Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Classic Toys; Observations

Have you ever thought that toys are getting more and more advanced these days? In the age of Play Stations, Nintendo DSes, and X Boxes, it's sometimes hard to find toys that don't light up or make some kind of annoying noise.

Not here in Morocco.

Here are some of the toys I saw actual kids playing with today;
wooden top with pull string
ball (used for playing soccer, but not a "soccer" ball)
paddle ball

When I saw this, I thought, "now that's pretty cool!"

Growing up, my brother and I always got a small, "classic" toy in our Christmas Stocking and Easter Basket. One year it was a yo-yo, the next a set of jacks. One time I got one of those paddles with a rubber ball attached to it with a piece of elastic and the paddle was in the shape of an ice cream cone. They were "simple" toys, but they did the trick.

It's not like these were the only toys I played with. I also remember my Easy-Bake-Oven, Barbie dolls, Play School Little People, Legos, and Cabbage Patch Kid. Sure, the Little People came from yard sales, my Barbies' clothes were almost all handmade by my mom and grandma (which I always liked better than the store-bought outfits), and my grandma made my Cabbage Patch doll, but my point is, is that the kids here have a fraction of the toys their counterparts in the US have. I know this because we lived with two different families when we first arrived in Morocco. Our first family had four children; ages 22, 19, 15 and 8 months. Our second family had three kids aged 18, 11, and 7.

Like most girls in our neighborhood, our seven-year-old host sister's favorite toy was a long piece of elastic tied into a large loop which she would then jump over and onto. The game is called "lastic."

I guess what I'm saying is that I like what I'm seeing here. Though I had many many more toys than the children I see on my way to work, I can see a connection between the type of play that they're engaging in and the type of play that I use to. Though I did grow up at the beginning of the Nintendo era, it was never something that interested me at all, and thus I found myself drawn to toys that I consider to be more "creative."

Also, a small bag of marbles, a couple of paddles, a simple ball, and a long piece of elastic might not sound like much, but I have seen these classic toys bring the neighborhood kids together to form strong friendships and a sense of community. It makes me wonder if we wouldn't be better off putting down the Wii and going back to the basics.


tagalong said...

I got the feeling that they like these small classic toys because they are widely available, cheap and easy to carry around in their pockets. All they have to do is wander around on their street and find someone to play with. I have seen them with marbles and a simple homemade button-and-string toy that winds up, we made those when I was a little kid a very long time ago. Crayola crayons and coloring books were not widely available the last time I was there in Morocco a couple years ago, and I always bring some for the kids.

Jon said...

Can't wait for the new iPod Touch!!!