This section is from the book "How To Help The Shut-In Child: 313 Hints For Homebound Children", by Margery D. McMullin. Also available from Amazon: How To Help The Shut-In Child: 313 Hints For Homebound Children.
If your child is to be in bed for a long time, it will pay to have a "Toy Buying Plan" for inexpensive and homemade toys will not always fill the bill.
Look in toy stores and catalogues for things the child would enjoy. Make a list of the items. Let relatives and friends know that you have such a list and that you would appreciate it if they would consult you before they buy a gift.
In making your list, include things that are "out of the present world" of the sick child-for a city child, such things as toy farm animals; for the country child, streetcars and taxicabs.
When a child is in a hospital, he is likely to feel isolated and restricted. His parents often try to compensate by showering him with new toys on each visiting day, until the child expects something new with every visit. Instead of buying a new toy each time, list the toys he or she already has at home and bring them in rotation. Take the list with you on visiting day and let the child himself choose what you will bring next time. Be sure to take the previously used toys home. Even if a child is at home, it is a good idea to vary the toys he plays with from day to day.
If you include on your shopping list some creative toys that are beyond the reach of your friends' and relatives' individual pocketbooks, suggest they chip in together to purchase presents for birthday or Christmas. This practice may not sound feasible if your child is used to receiving a large number of gifts, but the chances are he will enjoy one "big" present so much that the quantity of gifts will not be missed. A dollar or so will be enough for a number of little presents (Suggestions for such gifts may be found in Items 196 to 204).
189. A really good set of building blocks for a younger child makes an excellent present. If a large play surface has been provided (see Item 13), the blocks can be managed even though the child is in bed.
190. Educational construction toys such as peg boards or take-a-part trains and boats (both wooden and metal) are other toys to put on your toy list.
191. An electric phonograph or a typewriter is suitable for various ages and both sexes. Good secondhand ones are available if you search for them with perseverance and patience.
192. A globe of the world or a set of maps is just the thing for an older child interested in geography.
193. A hand loom for weaving materials is expensive, but it is an excellent investment for an older boy or girl who wants to develop weaving skill.
194. There is a wide price range in chess sets. A really "good" set costs heavily, but it would be a lifetime investment. The same is true of other games such as backgammon, cribbage, etc.
195. Why not an electric machine for a would-be seamstress-or a microscope for a child with scientific bent?
196. Neighborhood stores are a good source of inexpensive play materials, simple things may not seem exciting to you but will be of great interest to your child. Take time to wrap small gifts in bright paper and gay ribbons. These need not be expensive wrappings-a piece of yesterday's newspaper and a strand of bright yam is enough. (If the newspaper is part of the weekly colored comics, so much the better! ) It's the fun of having something to open that counts with a child.
197. A ten-cent dish mop made into a doll can amuse a child for some time. Turn the mop upside down. Separate the strands of the mop to make the part in the hair. This can be braided or tied back with ribbon. On the knob underneath the hair draw or paint the face. Wrap some string around the handle for the body, which can be covered with a small piece of cloth for a cape.
198. A small magnet and a handful of small nails or pins are fun for both boys or girls.
199. A magnifying glass does not need to be an eye-aid. It can be used to enlarge objects in the child's room or on his bed.
200. A "snowstorm" ball is fun to watch and is especially good for a child who has little strength. Ten-cent stores, souvenir stores, and sometimes stationery stores carry this toy.
201. Do get a Magic Slate while you're in the ten-cent store. The child writes or draws on it, then everything disappears magically when the plastic cover is lifted. It's inexpensive and affords hours of fascination for the child.
202. Take home the largest and the smallest pencils you can find. Add a packet of colored paper pads. They cost a trifle but are a nice surprise.
203. Soap bubbles are fun for any child. Mother won't have to worry about the bed getting damp if she uses the oilcloth bed cover mentioned in Item 10.
204. Do you give your child a weekly allowance? He can spend money even while ill by having other members of the family do his shopping for him.