You’ve heard about it before—parents going through considerable time, effort and expense to select just that perfect toy. Usually it’s the latest and greatest, but , more often than not, their little one seems much more interested in playing with the packaging it came in. How about you? Did your kiddo have more interest and fun ripping wrapping paper off and away than playing with the gift inside?
Children don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to PLAY. In fact, I’d go so far as to say all the extra bells and whistles are a distraction to play. And, by definition, that’d mean it’d be a distraction to the learning that could take place! Read this article and come to your own conclusions.
RIPPING, Crumbling, Shuffling, Rustling…..And Other Paper Sounds
The quality ‘bells and whistles’ have that you DO want to replicate is engaging with your child’s senses. That’s why ripping into wrapping paper; crunching it up into a ball—the seeing, feeling, hearing—and often tasting is so appealing to kiddos!
Household items have often entertained young children too. Think pots & pans! Here Grandbub #2 is making Ball Stew–YUM!
Open another cabinet door or pull open a drawer and before you know it there’s Ball Stew with a touch of keys and added lid spices…how exotic!
Extend this further….
READ: Pots & Pans by Anne Rockwell. Whether your kiddo is young, like my grandbub or a preschool, the book is appropriate. It’s got simple text that names a few shapes, sizes, and construction materials, but mostly names items in any kitchen. Following the read it may have you checking your own!
HOMEMADE TOYS & GAMES
So make simple, homemade toys that capture your kiddo’s attention and also help them to grow and develop!
One VERY simple toy I created, just out of looking to see what was available at hand, was a rattle of sorts. In reality it was an empty, plastic water bottle with a several bouillon cubes. Yes, I’m tooting my own horn, but this has been enjoyed and played with by more kidlets than you’d imagine!
It’s got sound going for it; it’s got motion; it’s got brightly-colored, red cubes. Plus it’s easy to manipulate—light enough and with a small enough top that little ones can grasp it and shake and rattle it about!
Another idea to try: Toilet paper tubes (with holes punched at both ends) and straws of varying lengths. This’ll develop your kiddo’s eye-hand coordination as well as employ their creativity and problem-solving skills. Let your kidlet connect the tubes with straws in whatever design they want! When your child is old enough try this game:
Straws of different colors
Toilet paper tubes
●Use paper punch to make holes in either end of toilet paper tubes (4/endàeast, west, north, south)
●Cut straws into varying lengths
●Set out straws and tubes
●Game is for 2 or more players
●Decide on a few ground rules:
1. The minimum number of straw connections before changing color (a good 1st start is using 3)
2. Can players build off of opposing players’ creations?
3. Do top and bottom of the toilet paper tube paths work independently or must they follow each
●The youngest player starts the game
●Each player’s turn consists of 2 rolls of the die
●Roll the die, the number of dots (or numeral) tells how many tubes to use
●Repeat, roll the die, the number of dots (or numeral) tells how many straws to use now or save to use later
●Player connects tubes as they desire
●Next player rolls
●Play continues alternating until all materials are used up!
Point out the color progression; have your kidlet say the colors aloud. Did the pathways wind up back to the 1st tube? Was there a section where every place connected?
OPT for DIY, But…
Definitely YES, homemade, DIY toys are fun and (in)valuable to your child’s learning!
An inexpensive, store-bought, but must-have toy, though are rings. They are so versatile! For example, they can:
● Serve as teethers
● Inspire and motivate physical development (gross and fine) as well as eye-hand coordination
● Connect toys or pacifiers to strollers or car seats
● Combine with nesting cups or blocks and be used in a “Hide & Seek” type game.
Recall : Playing peekaboo with babies helps them understand about object permanence. When they’ve understood object permanence it means they’ll conceptually understand when you go away you will come back. In theory, this should help with separation anxiety.
(NOTE: Hide & Seek is an older version of Peekaboo. Put a ring under a cup/block, ask: Where’s the ring? When your kiddo uncovers the ring, reply: There it is!)
● Prepare math readiness skills like sorting/categorizing and patterning
Children are very accommodating and forgiving. They don’t expect perfection.* So don’t worry about that perfect toy! Work with what you have available to you; be engaged with your kiddo and the PLAY will take care of itself!
Yours in PLAY!
*Often this is applied to singing and I can speak from experience. Children do not care if you’re not a hit-record, sounding singer, they just want to sing! So do it!!