We were introduced to the concept of Der Spielzeugfreie Kindergarten (translated as the nursery without toys) through an article by Tracy Gillett on her blog, Raised Good. We hold dear the philosophy of minimalism and extend this practice to the spaces in which our children sleep, play and explore. Der Spielzeugfreie, a German project in which children experience three months at their kindergarten without toys, allows for the development of psychosocial competencies, enhanced social interaction, creativity, empathy, and communication skills.
Referencing this blog right now is so timely as many of us find our children at home, and we are desperate to find ways to fill their once busy, activity-led days with meaningful activities at home.
As put by Gillet, ‘ironically, by providing fewer toys, we provide more time for play.’ At Plyroom we advocate a less-is-more approach to children’s spaces through the mindful integration of practical children’s furniture, simplicity in the home and the substitution of over-stimulating technologies and toys for modest alternatives.
Inspired by Der Spielzeugfreie, here are our three tips for simplifying playtime:
1. Counteract capitalism
‘…Like most things in our capitalist culture our desire for them has been exploited by those who stand to profit. Our capitalist culture buys into the notion that if a little is good, more must be better. And nobody is more susceptible to the cunning tactics of toy manufacturers and marketers than children', says Gillet.
In a world where children are subject to pervasive advertising and school yard chatter about the latest and greatest toys it’s hard to make a stand against the pressures of consumption. A limitation of toys should not be a matter of depravity but an opportunity for education. Take the time to identify with your child the implications of wastefulness and encourage the care and adoration of a select number of items. Scarcity is something we have observed first hand in recent weeks, and the appreciation that arises from the lack of something is remarkable. The same applies to our treasured objects in the home. Less really is more.
Clockwise from top left: Fanny and Alexander; Fanny and Alexander Wooden Camera with Zoom; Stadshem; The Shed by Richard Peters Associates; bedroom nook by Avenue Lifestyle; Panca Bambina Toy Box; Sanne Hop; Little Nest Storage Cabinet; Heju.
2. Simple furnishings
Create the space mindfully with a smaller selection of multi-functional and space saving furniture. The Dream Cloud Loft Bed, for example, creates additional floor space for creative play and the Singolo Bed with our pull-out Trundle Drawer provides storage space to keep clutter at bay.
3. Humble toys
Fanny and Alexander, Argentinian crafters of wooden toys, state ‘these days, it’s the rare object in the toy chest that doesn’t require batteries. Children now are reared on a steady diet of video games and virtual reality. These experiences can be emotionally and cognitively stimulating, but risk reducing a child’s agency if undertaken to the exclusion of other forms of play.’ On this note, we support wooden toys as a vehicle for imaginative play, problem solving, mental focus and safety. As wooden toys do not feature the trappings of standard toys (sound effects, voices, automated movements), it permits children the freedom of play. They can control how they use their toys, improvising and dreaming up their own scenarios.
4. Space to play
Regardless of age, we love a space that we can call our own. It doesn't need to be an entire room or wing of a house, it can be a corner in the living room that is near our loved ones so we feel connected and safe, especially in these uncertain times. The Ko Activity Set provides a compact space for children to undertake creative play. Coupled with the right storage pieces, you have a nook that is age appropriate and will grow with your child.