In case you’re unfamiliar, the term “slow toy” was coined a few years ago in the U.K. and refers to a category of toys that, according to the Slow Toy Movement founder, Thierry Bourret, “inspire children, that will stand the test of time and offer true play value.”
Basically, these toys are the antithesis of most of the must-have toys that hit the market each Christmas season. Instead of plastic parts, electronic components and characters from hit movies, these toys are often low-tech, gender neutral and have been around for generations. So why are they suddenly garnering so much attention and why are they important?
First, they last a lot longer. One of the main concepts behind a “slow toy” is that it’s a simple, durable toy that is made to stand the test of time. Second, kids play with them longer. Instead of being designed to do one thing, children can use these toys in a multitude of ways such as dramatic play (think play kitchen) or building (a good set of wood blocks is the ultimate “slow toy”) — and that’s good news for both bored kids and busy parents.
You see, despite how much your kid begs for the hottest toy this year, odds are that once she gets it, she won’t actually play with it for long. When it comes to “must have” toys, the problem is that the more specific the things they do, the less ways there are to play with them.
When looking for a gift that your kids will reach for over and over, your best bet is often to go with a simpler toy that they can use in lots of different ways. For example, they can fashion a basic set of brightly colored scarves (sometimes called “play silks”) into superhero capes, strew them across chairs to build a fort or tie them together for an impromptu game of tug-o-war. That means your kids will be playing for longer stretches of time and developing innovate and critical thinking skills in the process.
So where do you find these “slow toys?” Like everything these days, there’s an award for that! Check out the short list of 2014 Slow Toy Award Winners here.