I was doing some Christmas shopping at Costco when I saw them – ponies! Actually, the label says ‘rocking horse’ but I like to call them ponies – I bought two. They were not on my shopping list but I couldn’t resist – they were only $20 each!
Now I will admit they ticked a few boxes on my ‘I don’t like’ list.
- They were fairly large toys and I have a limited amount of space.
- They have batteries and make noise. I prefer ‘use your imagination’ toys over ’cause and effect’ toys.
- They have some limitation for age/size of children which may cause frustration for the children and me.
But they were so cute I just couldn’t resist. I bought two because one would definitely not be enough but I don’t have space for a whole herd. Look at them, pictured here with some of my Ikea stuffies;
I debated about introducing the new toys during the Christmas break when there were fewer children here but I decided to wait until everyone returned. That way all the children could make discoveries together instead of the returning children being ‘instructed’ by the ones who had already had two weeks with the new toys. Besides, there was something I had to do to the ponies first…
I had to put stops on them so they wouldn’t rock.
I know, some of you are thinking ‘Why do you want rocking horses that don’t rock?’ The answer to that is fairly simple, hence the name change – I wanted ‘ponies’ not ‘rocking horses’. After my ‘Ooooh, they’re so cute!’ reaction my next thought was how many little toes would be squished under the moving base.
So on Monday the children got to meet our new, non-rocking ponies. The early arrivals were thrilled. After nearly an hour of pony play they still hadn’t yet discovered the sound/action buttons – so I showed them. When you squeeze the pony’s ear you hear neighs and galloping hooves and the pony’s mouth opens and closes and his tail wags.
The children each tried the button once and then went back to their original – before my interruption – quiet pony play. The third child to arrive was also more interested in the ponies than the pony noise/action. It was a different story once children four and five arrived. These two refuse to allow the ponies to be silent – ever!
Even when they are not playing with the ponies, if the noise stops they drop whatever they are playing with and run over to press the button again. For me, this is the biggest problem with the battery operated aspect of these and other similar toys. They don’t enhance the play value of the toy – they prevent the children from fully engaging in play. They are a distraction.
I usually remove the batteries from new toys before I introduce them to the play space. The lack of batteries isn’t missed if they didn’t know it existed. Occasionally I leave batteries in toys – like I did with the ponies. However, I rarely replace them when they die. The pony noises are definitely not a benefit but I do like the pony actions. In fact, feeding the ponies is one of the children’s favourite activities;
Sure, the children could pretend to feed the ponies even if the pony’s mouth didn’t open and close but there is an incredible amount of cooperation and problem solving as the children work together to find items that fit in the pony’s mouth and stay there as he ‘chews’.
The saddle stirrups have caused some problems – rider’s feet sometimes get stuck in them making a safe dismount difficult. I’ve tucked the stirrups up under the saddle but I’ll probably end up cutting them off completely.
The other issue we’ve had with the ponies comes after daycare closes and it is dark and quiet in the playroom. That is when hunter cat stalks her prey – and ponies are one of her favourites. So, when play is done for the day the ponies are safely stabled like this;
Everybody loves ponies.