Friday, May 7, 2010

The Joys of Toys

As Ryan gains more control of his hands and is more able to manipulate the things around him, the more interested he is in his toys. He has a fantastic collection of toys, and he loves exploring and examining each of them.

One of his favorite toys ever since he was tiny has been a stuffed duck. At first, he loved the duck because its beak and feet and tail were all very chewable. But as time went by, he enjoyed chewing on its textured plastic teething rings, and now he gets a thrill from crinkling the various flaps, carefully turning it around to look at the different colors and patterns all over it, and shaking it around to make it rattle. He has a similar stuffed bug and a “Very Hungry Caterpillar” whose interest has also grown over time as he’s discovered their various squeakers, textures, and graspable bits.

Sounds and textures are both features of his latest favorite toys. My sister gave him a set of soft fabric blocks that he loves playing with. They have soft jingle bells in them so they make noise when he shakes them, or throws them on the floor, or hits something (usually Mummy) with them. And each side is a different color and a different texture (some are corduroy, some are satin, some are velveteen), so he is fascinated by turning them in his hands and examining each side (with both his hands and his eyes). Also, many of them have crinkly fabric inside so when he grabs them by the corners they make a nice crunching sound.

And then he has a whole collection of stacking blocks. They have either a square or a round outside with a retracting tube inside with a face on it, so when you stack one on a base the face pops up. Several of the bases are shaped like fish and have a soft rattle when you shake them, but Ryan’s favorite is “Squeaky Snail”. Squeaky Snail is in the shape of a snail (bet you didn’t see that coming) and he squeaks (or that either) when you stack another block on top of him. Ryan loves it when I make Squeaky hop up his tummy and onto the top of his head, squeaking at every hop. Sometimes I make Squeaky sneak up behind him and squeak in his ear. Ryan is getting better and better at grabbing the blocks (the open tube makes them easier to grab than other blocks) and he loves when he grabs Squeaky and is rewarded with a loud squeak. Plus, Squeaky has the advantage of having a plastic head that is apparently the perfect shape and size to act as both a handle and a chew toy. So what's not to love?

Some of the toys that Ryan’s just discovering aren’t especially intended to make noise, but he still loves whatever noises he manages to make with them. For example, he has a frame with long, multicolored intersecting wires with different colored and shaped beads on them. He has fun moving the beads around, but what he seems to enjoy most of all is the clacking of the beads when they all settle into place, or when I slide them to the end and they clack into a pile all at once.

Even his feet are a fun noisy toy! Just yesterday he was lying on his tummy looking at his toys and I started drumming on his back. When I stopped, he immediately pounded out a tattoo of his own with his feet drumming on the floor. When he paused for a moment, I drummed on his back again, and when I stopped, he kicked the floor again, obviously loving the sound he was making.

I love watching him discover new toys, and new and different ways to play with his familiar toys. I can’t to see what he comes up with to amuse himself with next!!

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