If you have little kids at home there are very good chances that you have various kinds of batteries stocked up. Every little toy we see on the store shelves needs batteries. Either I am too old or too slow because this whole electronic toy phenomenon has failed to catch up with me. Shoes that light up, trees that speak, flowers that squeak, soft toys that talk, dolls that light up when wave a wand, tea kettle that sings songs when you pour tea, bowling pins that shriek when hit all. a story reader that reads to the child. Is it really better for the child to listen to an electronic voice reading to it rather than a parent or a sibling sharing the book and making lifelong memories? I miss the days when dress up fun was not limited to Disney princesses and pirates, when pretend play included being real day to day people like a mom, a dad, a doctor, a teacher, a mailman, a carpenter, a builder but today you are not a builder, you are Bob the builder and your tools talk to you and your imagination can take a backseat because all you have to do is follow the show. Why? What are we trying to do?
Is it really better to score another level on Wii, rather than be out in the yard and smell the air, touch the grass, feel the mud, observe the birds and know the neighbors? Is it really more gratifying to listen to the beeps and sounds of battery operated kitchen set which make "real" frying sound rather than being with mom and dad in the actual kitchen and take part in rolling the bread, chopping the vegetables, sharing stories of your day, making a mess and eating a real meal at the end of it? So many disapprove the idea of the little ones cleaning their table after a meal, or picking up crumbs using a dust pan but are so delighted to buy them a toy vacuum cleaner that has eyes and nose and a mouth to talk. Kids, like grownups, want to be able to do real things in real world rather than just pretend. Maria Montessori helped us understand that individual behavior is shaped through interaction with the environment i.e. learning through experience or 'experiential learning', which means learning by doing, learning through effort and action and gaining satisfaction and pleasure. Imagination gets fostered when we are in real situations and interact with real life. No batteries required.