There is local toy store in the Brambleton Shopping Center in Virginia that I absolutely love! It’s called Go Bananas. The store is so warm, colorful, and inviting…it feels like magic! Every time I go in there, I am like a kid in a candy store. I have a hard time getting out of there without buying some toys for home or speech therapy.
One afternoon I was scrolling through my Facebook (for business, really!) and I noticed this post on the Go Bananas facebook page.
It was like a light went off. There is was… the words REAL TOYS! While I had an inkling that my favorite store shared my beliefs in toys… there it was. In writing. For all to see. Needless to say, I knew that I had to meet Mary Holmes (aka the Top Banana) and share her words of wisdom with you!
In speaking with Mary, “Top Banana”, I quickly realized that we shared almost identical philosophies on play (and we both love LITERACY too!). Throughout our interview, I frequently smiled over to Alli (my favorite marketering director) because it was eerie that she actually used the SAME words I have used when speaking to my families about play.
Children know INTUITIVELY how to play
The Top Banana shared that real play has no boundaries; it’s endless. She believes that children intuitively know how to play. You just to have find what captivates your child or keeps their interest. Watch what your child steers toward and follow their lead. By observation you can tap into their interests. The Top Banana also stated that toys should not play for the child. Children learn though doing. It’s never what the toy does but what the child does with the toy.
Finding toys that LAST
When selecting toys for your child, a parent must look for safety compliance (i.e., age appropriate) and durability. A “good toy” is a toy that your three-year-old child can play in one way and at six years of age play in a different way (i.e., open ended).
Also, she shared that she personally dislikes stereotypical toys. Cars and trucks are not only for boys while shopping carts and baby dolls are not only for girls. The Top Banana shared that at one time, Go Bananas had a dinosaur table in their play area and she noted that many little girls really gravitated towards it. Toys are for playing and it doesn’t matter if it’s a girl toy or a boy toy!
After talking with Mary, I now understood why it always feels so magical when walking into Go Bananas. Mary cares so much about the toys that she carefully, hand selects, that I feel like she has truly captured the magic of childhood inside her store.
I really enjoyed speaking with the Top Banana and even walked out of there with a birthday gift and two new toys. One for home. One for the therapy room. I am excited to be collaborating in the near future with Go Bananas to share our knowledge about early language development through play.
If you are local, you really ought to visit Go Bananas. But I must warn you.. it will be tough to leave without any of her fabulous toys or books!
When I look for toys for both my own children and for therapy, I use these recommendations. You can also check out more on toy “dos and don’ts” and “toy rotations” from a fellow SLP and friend, Kim, at LittleStories. I love her take on “SCLANS.”