This article was written by Katherine Martinko and first appeared on TreeHugger.com Give your child these things, and they will be stimulated, entertained, and challenged in ways that the toy box will never match.
“Play is the highest form of research,” Albert Einstein said. Watch a child at play, and you’ll come to believe it quickly. Kids play with an intensity and enthusiasm that adults can only envy, and they do so in order to prepare themselves for the world.
When I think back to my own childhood, there were a few specific items that occupied most of my attention. These were not typical toys, not the sort you’d find in a toy box. Instead, they provided raw material for the play and imagination that influenced greatly the person I’ve become. These are the things that I think every child should have.
A map of the world
My bedroom walls were plastered with maps dug out from old issues of National Geographic. The World hung above my bed and, since I went to bed at an early hour, I’d spend many sun-filled summer evenings mentally traveling to all the exotic places I could see on my map. That’s how I learned geography, memorizing capital cities, distant seas, and mountain ranges, and I’m certain it played a major role in fueling my desire to travel and see the same places I’ve imagined since childhood...