Wednesday, 31 July 2013

How We Used to Play...

Kid’s today have such a diverse range of toys to aid learning in fun inventive ways, kid’s tablets, camera’s that actually take photos and a whole range of battery operated toys that would well and truly go on to make a very long list.

The toys Leo has to play with today pale in comparison to back when I was his age, my tech savvy 2 year old knows exactly how to un-lock my iphone and swipe through the photos. Heck he even has Luke’s old cast off iPod Touch!

Research has shown that the average child today has around £1,200 worth of toys in their home. As I look around Leo’s ever expanding toy collection I have to say I am inclined to agree with this.

In my immediate sight I spy an InnoTab Tablet, a toy washing machine, the Bubble Guppies Rock and Roll Stage, his favourite toy tractor with authentic sounds and lets not forget his army of stuffed toys, most of which have plenty to say thanks to the voice box in the back of their stuffing!

In the past 20 years toys really have become far more sophisticated, but we used to play very differently.

Once upon a time there were no batteries, toys relied heavily on the imagination of the child at the end of the strings. There were no flashy lights and no computer generated sounds, and absolutely anything could happen in the make believe game you dream up.

npower recently launched an energy archive on called 'Remember How We Used To...' - They have launched this archive to take us back over the years and to show us all just how much energy has transformed our lives.

Leo and I took part in a very interesting challenge assigned to us by npower to help them see how a child would feel about toys from back in the day. 

The challenge was to put away all of our electronic toys for one whole weekend and play with toys from back in the day. Interestingly enough many of the toys we were sent for the challenge are still in existence today, or the idea at least. Of course they have been modified for use in 2013 but they have never been forgotten.

In our challenge set we had:

-          A wooden Puppet
-          A tin Cash Register
-          Play dough
-           Kaleidoscope
-          Mr Potato Head

When the toys arrived I was discussing the challenge with Leo’s Granny and I was intrigued to discover just how far back Mr Potato Head went. Back in the day of my Mother’s childhood he was merely a potato (a real one!) that you stuck body parts in. Of course today we have the very well-known Potato Head that many of you will recognise from the ever popular Toy Story series!

Not long after the box arrived we were packing up to go away to Devon and to be staying in an old barn conversion. I saw the opportunity to take the toys along and take part in the challenge, so I simply took only this box of toys along with us. I knew this way there was no chance of one of Leo’s many electronic toys cropping up on us…

Leo didn’t take long to get his hands into the very lovely tin cash register, he loved playing with it just as much as he does his electric one at home. It has lovely big buttons that he can push in and even make the register ping open. This is a toy that will never loose it’s place in the grand scheme of things, kids love to role play. Many of the most popular toys are simply toy versions of general day to day objects.

The kaleidoscope took me right back to when I was about 5, I remember being allowed to choose one toy from Woolworths and I chose the Kaleidoscope. I haven’t actually seen one in the shops for the longest time, and I think it was actually Granny and I who enjoyed all of the shapes and colours hiding within this toy more than the toddler. Leo did give it a try but I think this will be something he ‘grows into’.

The wooden puppet was really fun to dance around the lounge, admittedly Leo was a little scared of it…For what reasons I will never be completely sure of. He did however say ‘No Mumma’ through the screams that ensued shortly before I listened to him and put the puppet back in his box.

Granny was telling us all about the puppet she had as a child, how back then a puppet was the kind of toy you would receive as a main Christmas present. That alone shows you just how far we have come, todays bigger Christmas gifts come in the form of tablets and computers, but back in the day…Puppets were the current fad!

We had great fun with the Play dough, this was Leo’s very first experience with it and I did wonder whether he may try and eat it or not. In all honesty though, Leo has always been pretty good with the whole not putting things in his mouth. Leo adored the play dough, even though all he really did was roll it around in his hands. When I was little Mum would always make the play dough from scratch for us, we could then colour it with food colouring and make it as bright as we liked! I think maybe soon Leo and I will have to have a go at making up some home-made play dough.

I feel that the challenge was a big success, Leo didn’t mind the fact that the 50’s style toys were not electronic, he didn’t mind one bit. I think that many of these listed above are classics and that is why they are still in production today. One thing is for sure though, and taking part in this challenge really opened up my eyes to how many toys my little guy has, how much technology has come along over the years and just how tech savvy kids today actually are.

Disclaimer: I was provided with the above toys to take part in the npower challenge. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. What a brilliant challenge! Dylan is absolutely engrossed in the toys at my mum and dad's house and they haven't bought anything new in the last 20 years or so. No batteries and nothing fancy and he will play for hours!

    I also have a great playdough recipe if you need oneas we love it!

    1. It was lots of fun! Some great toys from back in the day x


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