Monday, April 23, 2018

The Best "Toys" for kids

I don't know if it's just my kids but they are not super into toys. It always seems that the things that get played with most are not traditional toys but rather a random assortment of empty containers, tools, dress up and "real things". The thing is, kids are super creative. They are so creative that it can be hard for us as adults to even fathom it. There are so many beautiful toys out there nowadays that it can be hard to stop yourself from buying your kids everything (I should know, I am 100% positive that I buy way too many toys). In reality kids don't need toys, and while toys are fun for us to buy the items that get the most play at our house are not toys at all.

I know I've seen lists like this on other blogs but here is my top 10 list of things my kids play with, most of which aren't toys.

1. Baskets. It's truly fascinating to see what kids will do with an assortment of empty baskets. They love packing picnics in them, using them to forage (whether picking things from our vegetable garden or pretend foraging), or carrying treasures in them.

2. Art supplies. Being artsy myself, I feel likes it's important to provide tools for creation for my kids. It doesn't have to be anything fancy (although nicer art supplies are fun too!) some colored pencils, crayons markers and lots of tape and paper will get you started. Young kids are born creators and they will amaze you with what they come up with.

3. Cardboard boxes. I feel like this needs no explanation. If you were ever a kid yourself you know that cardboard boxes are the ultimate toy, the bigger the better! After the house fire we got a lot of new furniture and therefor we have some great big boxes. The girls love cutting, decorating, and playing in them. Seriously, hours of entertainment.

4. Dress up. This might possibly be the number one category of stuff that gets played with in my house. My kids are biiiigggg into imaginative play and acting out scenarios. This thrills me because not only is it entertaining to watch but play acting is how children this age learn and make sense of the world. Although not strictly necessary, a well stocked dress up bin can really aid in the games the kids get up to.

5. Loose Parts. Loose parts as part of early childhood education is really gaining traction. These are small bits and bobs that can be used for open ended play and building. Think buttons, corks, straws, beads, bottle caps, pebbles. The possibilities are endless! You can read more about loose parts here.

6. Sheets/blankets/furniture (aka fort building supplies). From about the time they could walk my kids have loved building forts, shelters and hideouts using whatever blankets and furniture they could get their hands out. There are a lot of fort building kits available for sale but in my opinion
nothing beats the original blanket fort.

7. Natural materials. Sticks, mud, shells, acorns, flowers and leaves. Kids can spend and endless amount of time exploring nature. One of the favorite activities at our house is making a mud kitchen. Set out old pots and pans or plastic bowls and containers that you don't care about and let the kids play chef with mud, sand and leaves. My kids also really enjoy "potion making" with items from nature.

8. Kids kitchen tools. My kids love to help me cook and having kid sized knives, peelers and whisks makes it really exciting for them. A really cute kids apron is fun too!

9. Sensory play experiences. This can be a variety of things. We use a lot of sensory bins at the preschool coop where I work and the kids go. One of the best and most old school sensory experiences is a sandbox. I used to let Echo play with a try of decaf coffee grounds. Bins of birdseed are great for scooping and baking soda and vinegar is always exciting! If you want to get really fancy try water beads. I didn't know what theses were until they showed up at our preschool coop but they are amazing! They look like little plastic pellets but when you soak them in water they turn in to jelly like balls that are so fun to touch, squish and run your hands through. Just be warned that if your child is still in the "putting things in their mouths stage" they will definitely try to eat these! You can order a huge supply of water beads for relatively little on Amazon.

10. Their Sibling(s). I can't emphasize enough the joy of listening in on my kids playing together. I am entering the golden years of my kids playing together now that Clover is big enough to be a real playmate to Echo. I feel like I am reaping the rewards of those hard early days when I had two very young children so close in age. My twos girls play together almost constantly from the time they get up until bedtime and their time together is so precious. This is the work of childhood, social play, figuring things out together. It's so magical and so important.

So that's my list of non toys that my kids love playing and working with. What toys or non toys do your children enjoy?

Thursday, April 5, 2018

March Photos

I have been a little lazy about taking photos with my real camera lately so there aren't many photos for March (well, there are on Instagram but not with my good camera). I just have a few shots from our trip to Chattanooga and a friends Harry Potter Birthday party :-)

February Photos

Well I'm falling way behind on photos again! I'm hoping to get caught up soon and maybe one of these days do a real blog post again and not just a boring photo dump, ha! In the meantime, here are February's photos!