Yesterday, I started seeing commercials for “holiday shopping”. I swear they keep starting earlier and earlier each year! I barely put away (aka threw out) my Halloween costume from this weekend! But as always, it has started my brain thinking about toys for kids. People often ask, “What are the best toys I can give my child to promote learning at home?”
In truth, for young children, some of the best “educational toys” are things you can find around your house. Sure, technology is exciting and we are seeing it more and more in our classrooms, but I still believe in the learning power behind using your imagination to transform ordinary objects into something spectacular. While I was working in a classroom with two year-olds several years ago, I discovered the power of a simple cardboard box. Instantly it became the most exciting and most play-provoking item we had in our classroom. On your next rainy day (aka this coming Thursday for NYC), might I suggest going on a “toy” hunt around your house?
Here’s a list of popular items you can use in your search:
large beads (the non-choking hazard type!)
old clothes for dress up
jar lids (great for stacking, sorting etc)
plastic tubs and tubes
magnifying glasses or binoculars
Let your child take the lead, see how they use the objects and take note (figuratively but also literally!) Your child may be interested in using the items to extend their dramatic play or they may be more interested in using the items to create/build something new. Let their natural tendencies guide you.
I have long been a fan of the “Not A…” book series by Antoinette Portis. Her books inspire us to push our imaginations and realize that a simple objects can transform into anything through the power of play. You can find Not a Box and Not a Stick on Amazon. I highly recommend them for reading with your child (or on your own!) Hopefully they will inspire you to see the creative potential behind the simplest and possibly overlooked items in your home.