Toys toys toys, we are buried in the amount of toys Dylan has been bought from people and us! Its verging on shameful really but we got very excited when Dylan arrived and we haven’t stopped spoiling him, he has lots of things to play with but there are a few that I find are the best for teaching him the skills he needs in his development. I’ll go through a few and tell you why they are so good.
Right, this stuff is indestructible! It’s made with toddlers in mind, it’s able to withstand a pounding as it’s smashed to the floor on a regular basis, the bits are large so there’s seemingly no choking hazards attached to any of their products.
Happy land is fabulous for learning role play, a way in which children learn the art of communication, build confidence, problem solve and opens up their imagination as an important part of their development. I don’t get involved most of the time when Dylan starts to play with his Happy Land set because it’s his time to explore and discover the wonders of independent play. He won’t use it properly at the moment and that’s ok, he’ll grab bits from his toy box to shove through the doors and windows but it’s still playing an important part in his development. This Toy will last until they are at least 4 years old so, a good investment to have.
Top tip: You can usually find happy land toys on Gum Tree for a fraction of the price or Mothercare are always doing sales on them at great prices too, in fact they have a sale on right now!
If you have a toddler who loves to take things apart and try to put them back again then stacking sets are a brilliant way to harness the enjoyment they get from that and turn it into a learning tool. My dad made Dylan a wooden stacking set, the wooden discs were coloured to match the poles so we cold start to teach Dylan about colours and start to colour sort too. It’s a brilliant tool one that Dylan hasn’t quite got the hang of yet but he loves taking the discs off and putting them back on again furthering his motor skills as well as starting to learn colours. A simple toy but effective.
Alongside Stacking sets, stacking cups are a firm favourite for both of us to get involved with. Dylan loves nothing more than building the tower of cups to then knock it down again and we both shout with delight with our hands in the air that we’ve achieved the end result of whacking them to the floor, this can go on for a long time.
With stacking cups its about problem solving, which cup fits on top of the other one? Now Dylan gets very frustrated when he gets it wrong and doesn’t understand why the smallest cup won’t fit on the larger one, but it’s good to let him get frustrated (even if it does end up in a classic toddler tantrum) because he’s learning.
These are great for capturing your toddlers imagination and you can get stuck in with them. For now Dylan is learning to put the blocks together and take them apart but before you know it he’ll be building a mini castle, house or farm and making his own independent imaginary play.
Its great for motor skills, independent play and problem solving as well as being fun.
Whether you’re a girl or a boy cars are a brilliant toy, it’s working their fine and gross motor skills by examining the wheels and how they go round, they will learn to roll it along the floor in the direction they want it to go rather than it veering in a the complete opposite direction to where they intended with the right amount of pressure added to move the object from one place to another and that’s cleaver for a small toddler to learn. You’re building on their cognitive development and with cars you have the whole package.
The ultimate in messy play and one I would encourage everyone to do, if you don’t have a garden don’t worry head to your local park with some provisions like spare clothes! We don’t have a mud kitchen yet but it’s in the pipeline for late summer and i can’t tell you how excited I am!
The mud kitchen is a way of getting down and dirty with nature. It’s important for our children to get dirt into their systems to build a good immune system, it also creates endless creative play and will last for years. As your toddler gets older you can incorporate maths, yes maths into their mud kitchen play by measuring out quantities of herbs, water and most importantly mud! It builds on fine motor skills and by using real life objects such as saucepans it can be a real sensory delight for their development. Freeplay is both brilliant and important for children to discover and explore by themselves, letting them choose what to do first.
If you don’t have a garden, pack a small rucksack with some small bowls, spoons, a few fresh herbs and a bottle of water. Head down to your local park and make your own messy adventures. Just remember to pack a spare change of clothes! you can make a mud kitchen anywhere, you most certainly don’t need to buy anything fancy it’s about capturing their imagination.
No matter how many toys you buy your toddler will always find the ‘non toys’ more intriguing. I feel this might be because they aren’t exposed to them very often and they see us holding them a lot keeping their curiosity alight. Usual suspects include wet wipes, Medela milk bottles, plastic food bowls, car keys etc. so there are a few ways to incorporate these as learning activities.
Tissue Box Toy
Grab an empty tissue box or wet wipe box and stuff it with some material squares so they can pull them out and cram them back in again. different textures are great if you have some old clothes you can cut up, just make sure none of the bit you use has any small beads or parts that they can swallow.
This one is great for motor skills and learning new textures as well as learning problem solving buy putting them back in again.
Filling up old formula bottles with dried lentils or pasta to make shakers is better than you think it is, shaking the noisy makeshift rattles are a great way to release any tension your toddler might have, it’s noisy but I encourage it.
Saucepan messy play
A classic non toy and perfect for a hot day, filling up a saucepan with water and popping in some paint brushes (clean ones, they’re probably suck them) and some metal spoons you’ll get the fun of water play and the interesting loud clanging sounds from the metal spoons. The paint brushes are a fun way to get your toddler into painting without the mess by dipping the brush in the water and painting the pan together.