Let’s have a little chat about toys. If you have children, you have toys, probably more toys than you’d like to admit. With so many toys, it’s hard to know which toys are best for facilitating development, and which ones to secretly hide from your children. You know the ones I’m talking about, they buzz, flash bright lights, and say hello right when you put your little one down for a nap?
We have already talked about play and development, so let’s discuss the tools for play and development. From a developmental eye, the best type of toys are those that have multiple and sometimes endless ways to play with them. We want to see our children explore and create in their play and giving them appropriate toys is key. Today, I want to share with you a few of MY favorite toys. The ones I will be discussing are typically for children 0-3, but I discuss a few ways that you can make them work for a more advanced kiddo.
I never go to an appointment with a family without blocks. I own more sets then I’d probably tell you (especially considering I don’t have children..). But honestly, if you need one toy, blocks are your toy. There are so many types of blocks out there and they are all amazing; big, small, foam, rubber, wood. I especially love homemade blocks out of boxes (shoe boxes, cereal boxes). These are so fun for kids to build up and crash. If you are really looking for a good first set, I like wood one-inch blocks. Here is a great set on Amazon (less than 15 dollars ;). Blocks can be great for fine motor, problem solving, language, and even social skills.
- One inch blocks are a perfect size for your little ones. Especially when they are learning to bang two toys together.
- Purposefully grabbing and stacking a block is great for fine motor skill.
- Learning how to stack up helps children learn problem solving.
- Pretend play; making a train, house, car. Encourage sounds with your pretend play, ‘vroom vroom’ ‘choo-choo’.
- Taking turns, building blocks ups. Encourage siblings to play together, taking turns stacking the blocks up.
- I love letting kiddos crash the blocks and build them up again. This is actually a fantastic activity because in a little ones mind they are learning that broken things can be fixed. They are even learning to be okay when something they work on has to be done again (patience, perseverance).
These have some of the same developmental benefits as the blocks, but you can put items in and take them out. It’s life changing!! Here is a great set
- Stacking: (obvi) this is great for Fine Motor and problem solving.
- Nesting, figuring out which cup fits. Encourage them to keep trying if they haven’t figured it out.
- Pretend play, drinking, stirring, telephone. Use a fork to stir, Let your little one play with them in the tub.
- Imitation, putting the cup on your head as a hat, and see if they will copy you.
- Dumping items from one cup to another, Using water, or toys, or even in the sandbox is really fun.
- With colored cups you can match items to their color, grab items around the house that are red, blue, green, and ask your little one where each color is.
I love the six pack of party beads from a dollar store. You don’t feel so bad about them getting lost or broken because they are so cheap.
- Putting beads on your neck and taking them off, this teaches children the skills to help dress themselves.
- Learning Body Parts, . You grab two sets, give one to your sprout and then have them copy you putting the beads on your eyes, ears, tummy, toes, etc. It is so silly, and children will love it!
- Beads are great for encouraging little ones to crawl or reach. (Shiny and bright)
Shape Sorters are really great to help with problem solving, It is best to start out with a really simple shape sorter, with three or four shapes. I’ve seen some with shapes on all sides, and those are awesome for older children (three and up). Here is a set that I use.
- Matching, finding which piece goes where. If your child get frustrated point to the shape and help them put the shape in.
- Language, asking for help when they can’t find it. Encourage them to label the shape.
- Learning Colors, Ask your little one to find the red circle, or the blue square.
- Taking toys out and putting them in. Learning how to take items out and put them in is an early problem solving skill.
I’d love to hear how you play with your little one, what toys are their favorites? There are so many ways to play and so many toys out there. Let your sprout explore and create.