Provide Low-Tech Toys
Art supplies, dolls, and kid-propelled cars can be used in limitless ways. "A good toy is 95 percent child and 5 percent toy," says Joan Almon, founding director of the Alliance for Childhood. Emerald Earls, of Portland, Oregon, regularly asks her 9-year-old son, Clayton, if he can devise new uses for old playthings. "He's made up his own games using dominoes, marbles, and balls," she says. And when he needed to bone up on second-grade math, he invented an adding and subtracting game using a deck of cards.