22 April 2013

Serious Play and Minimal Toys

It's a bit cruel to talk about play on a Monday morning, but play is serious business. Play is sometimes thought to be synonymous with toys. While Madeleine has taken up virtually every millimeter of my heart, I try to keep her from taking up every last square foot of our house. So, I thought I'd share some toys and activities that help us play without overwhelming our space.

I found this list of toys for the first year, and I absolutely agree. Sigh. I wish I'd found this list about a year ago. At least I have some guidance for the next phase with her toddler list.

As Christie mentions, homemade toys should supplement the ones on the list. Even though I worry that my house is going to start looking like a recycling center, I find myself washing out a lot of containers and repurposing them. (How fitting for Earth Day!)

Potential rattles are everywhere. The ivory one below was an Edmonds Pavlova Magic container in its former life. I washed and dried it, put a dozen or so dried beans in it, and secured it with super glue. The white container below used to hold vitamins and now holds dry rice and beans; it has a childproof lid, so I didn't glue it shut. These are both great because they are safe for Madeleine with little to no supervision.

Empty baby food jars and spice containers have a lot of potential as well. Madeleine likes to see how these containers sound banging on things (not optimal for the glass jars) and rolling around. She also watches how the pompoms and feathers move around. This spice container has holes in the sub lid, so I can see it being used with pipe cleaners in the future. Because Madeleine may figure out how to open these lids, they require some supervision.

These empty puffs containers aren't getting a ton of action at the moment. I've tried to encourage experimenting with putting toys into them, but it has yet to stick. We do open and close the lids a few dozen times at a sitting to practice "open" and "closed" and "abre" and "cierra." The real reason I keep washing these guys is that I'm collecting a container of each flavor color for repurposing into a bowling set. Here's another idea of what to do with them for older children.

These large jingle bells are one of Madeleine's favorite toys and a leftover from the year I used bells as my primary Christmas decoration. I'm happy to have a use for some scrap ribbon, too.

Yep, this is a clear lid. The bottom of the yogurt container is floating around somewhere, but I don't think I've ever seen Madeleine play with it. The lid, on the other hand, gets played with regularly by both Madeleine and her friends.

Although I don't have a photo of it in action, a laundry basket with clean clothes or diapers is pretty popular around here. The basket seems to be the perfect height for Madeleine to pull up, and its smooth bottom makes it easy to push around the floor. While I love her walker cart, the laundry basket could almost do the same job if we didn't already have the cart.

Sometimes I want to do projects with Madeleine or introduce her to sensory play. My many pinned projects give me lots of options for making things with Madeleine. For sensory play ideas, I head over to Fun at Home with Kids. I recently discovered this blog, and it instantly became a favorite. The author's youngest is close in age to Madeleine, so many of her super easy sensory play ideas fit the bill. The activities she does with her older daughter give me a preview of what we'll be able to do in a year or two.

Let's not forget outside play. The last time the weather was reliably nice, Madeleine was just coming out of her fourth trimester, and I was only beginning to emerge from the postpartum and sleep deprivation fogs. I'm really excited to see what fun parks and outdoor activities we can find this spring and summer. So far, we love getting fresh air on regular walks and visits to the swings. Hopefully this swing will land on our porch or in our yard this summer.

So...how do you play? How do you keep the toys from taking over?


Asia Citro said...

What a cutie! Thank you for the mention and loved seeing the pictures of your daughter exploring!!!

ALKS said...

Thank YOU for the effort that goes into your amazing blog! I love the ideas and love that they're easy enough to actually carry out without weeks of preparation.