What toys did Einstein play with?
Parents want the best for their child. So when a product promises that it can create anything from Baby Einsteins to child prodigies to brainy babies, it is hard to resist.
But what toys did the original baby Albert Einstein play with? Maja, Albert Einstein’s sister, reports in “Albert Einstein - Beitragfür sein Lebensbild“(Albert Einstein – Contribution for his biography), that her brother very much liked to play with "puzzles, jigsaws and a construction kit". He liked building houses of cards, which he was able to build up to 14 stories high as a ten-year-old. It is from these humble, simple toys that his intellect blossomed. Little wonder, educational toys for 3 year olds or any pre-schooler have become so popular nowadays. Einstein had said “Play is the highest form of research.”
Yet, today parents often end up buying sophisticated gizmos and gadgets in the belief that their child will be left behind in the great brain race if they do not. These toys are often menu driven and unidirectional, hampering a child’s creativity, imagination and curiosity. They do not allow for experimentation.
Research shows that children are happiest with toys that are simple, have child friendly contours and provide a natural feel and texture that they enjoy. A simple wooden car, small train set or other educational toys can fire your 3 year old’s or little one’s imagination for hours. The Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University released the results of its 2011 TIMPANI (Toy to Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination) study. In the words of the study’s principal researcher, “Basic, open-ended toys tend to be more beneficial to children’s play and learning than some of the more elaborate and commercial toys that are on the market.”
Toys with batteries, buttons and scripts lead you to the same pre-determined results over and over again. If you have watched a child play with blocks and convert them into everything from castles, homes, furniture, cars, to rockets, you will agree with Einstein who said “Logic will take you from A-Z but imagination will take you everywhere”.
Low-tech toys made from natural materials like wood and cloth provide engaging, kinaesthetic experiences. They are also safer than either flashy plastic toys or gizmos where batteries could leak, there can be fear of radiation etc.
The 90-10 rule is your best guide when choosing toys for your child. The best play time comes from the toy being just 10% of it while the child being the other 90% . Who can forget pumping their legs in air while they try and go higher on the simple ubiquitous Swing. You could pretend you were flying or skiing, or maybe that you were a bird of paradise or an astronaut or the wind itself. That favourite rocking horse that could be your loyal pet or which allowed you to be a prince, a princess, a knight or a farmer or a steed on which you won many battles.
If you want your child to think out of the box, the trick is to not buy toys that resemble idiot boxes or come in boxes with too many instructions. Choose educational toys that expand your child’s horizons. Einstein"s theory of relativity was born out of his daydream about riding or running beside a sunbeam to the edge of the universe.
Let your child explore their universe with toys that empower them do it on their own terms. Give them the gift of imagination.