Best Toys Aren’t Toys at All: Lessons from My Son


As the weather has gotten warmer, and my son being old enough to play outside, my family has greatly enjoyed our yard and local playgrounds. The only problem was we didn’t have toys for outside.

Turns out, we didn’t need them. Through my son’s creativity (my genes, of course), he was entertained by the millions of walnuts that he found. He would collect them and put them in a cup; he would throw them like a ball. My son is also practicing to help me this winter: he LOVES to push around the snow shovel we’ve neglected to put away.

It got me thinking: why do we spend dollars upon dollars on toys that may or may not get played with? Sure, a bucket could be useful for picking up those walnuts, but we have more than our fair share of ice cream buckets to recycle. A climber or swing set is great, but there are great playgrounds around going unused. And what a great way for my son to explore nature but to utilize what’s already outside? I’ve found this even in our home. The most played with “toys” are the ice cream buckets, spatulas, and bamboo spoons (for swords of course). Sure, he has a plethora of great toys, and educational too, but he’d rather run around with a bucket on his head.

As a new mom, I’m always worried if I’m helping my son’s development properly. This includes making sure he’s surrounded with toys that help build his learning as well as imagination. Now that he is almost 18 months old, I’ve learned to relax. Sometimes the best toys aren’t toys at all: sometimes it’s a bucket, a bamboo spoon, and his mom and dad on the floor, playing drums or swords.

Sometimes the most educational, creativity building, and interactive “toy” you can give your child is YOU.

Next time you’re heading outside, let yourself be a kid again and get a little dirty. It’s amazing how beneficial it is for your child and you (I’ve found it’s very therapeutic!).


Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

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