Four Favorite Toys

kid in a box

I'm growing bored. If you've been reading this blog long enough (thanks!), you know that I'm a mid-westerner. And that means, I've been dealing with being inside, for the most part, for the last couple of months. I'm done. The glamour of the holiday toys has worn off. The question is “What to do, what to do, what to do?!”

Ah, yes, time to change it up.

One thing I've noticed about my kiddo's child care program is that they know how to change things up. Mostly, it's the environment which is changed weekly based on their theme for their curriculum. It's exceptional, yet it is so simple. One week, their dramatic play (pretend play) area is a kitchen, the next a doctor's office. I come back and it's a beauty parlor. By simply rearranging and changing simple tools and props, they fuel new discoveries for my kiddo.

Our playroom is, well, a playroom. It's wall-to-wall toys. If you and your kiddo are also growing tired of cold winter days and/or just need to find some new inspiration to play, consider these four favorite things:

1. Tent, box, or other “enclosed” area (i.e. blanket over a simple card table). Play in this type of area can be as simple as “peek-a-boo” or as complex as sailing the seven seas.

2. Bag of hats, socks, and/or other simple dress-up props (the sports bra was my toddler's favorite and gave me a good laugh too!). Few things bring more joy than simple dress up clothes. Think about items your child can easily manipulate and, of course, will be safe for your child. With a simple bag of clothes, you may find your kiddo will enjoy pulling items on and off. And on. And off.

3. Box of stuff. Sometimes the best inspirations for exploring come from items we least expect. Take a simple shoe box and fill it with a few items: an empty paper towel roll, a couple “real” keys on a key chain (keys you don't care if they get lost!), a few photographs (that you don't mind if they get wrinkled or chewed), a brush with soft bristles, a hand held mirror (preferrably unbreakable), and other items that seem to be of interest to your kiddo. Put them in a box, lid on, and invite your kiddo to discover. Watch where their play goes…Are they interested in exploring textures (sensory)? Will it lead them to participating in dramatic play (i.e. using a paper towel tube to look through like a telescope)? Support and encourage their discoveries.

4. Kitchen stuff. If you're trying to keep your kiddo out of the kitchen cupboards, rethink it. Of course, if you have items which are unsafe, you need child safety latches. BUT, if there are bowls, wooden spoons, pot lids, collanders, the question is “WHY NOT” let them explore these items? They're new, exciting, and they make great music! You may end up running the dishwasher a few more times, but the play these items will engage your kiddo in is well worth it.

What are you playing with these days?

What do you think?

Four Favorite Toys

Jeannie Fleming-Gifford is a mama to one little lady, freelance writer, and the director of education for a non-profit community school of the arts. Graduating with a B.A. in Music and a M.A. in Child Development, Jeannie began her career in quality child development programs as a teacher, then moved into creative administrative roles with science centers, symphony orchestras and arts programs. Owner of 170+ year old house, Jeannie loves living in small town America where walks to the park and ... More

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