Clayton Early Learning
17Dec/14Off

Amazing DIY Toys for Young Children

Candice Leary-Humphrey
Add pictures to blocks that will draw your baby's interest, stimulate language development and inspire new ways to play with an old classic!

Add pictures to blocks that will draw your baby's interest, stimulate language development and inspire new ways to play with an old classic!

 

Looking for a great toy for infants and toddlers under the age of 3? Look no further than what you have at home!

With so many new products being introduced to families and children through TV, radio, internet and print, it’s no wonder why parents and caregivers struggle with selecting toys to give to their children.  It wasn’t until my second child was born (and I had a few years of teaching under my belt) before I discovered a ton of great toys that are not only educational and fun, but can be made from supplies that I (usually) have just laying around the house! 

 

Picture Blocks

What They Are

Take the blocks that you probably already have at home and give them a personal touch by adding pictures of friends, family or objects to the flat sides of the block.  Babies and toddlers will love seeing the familiar images as they manipulate, stack and sort the blocks!  Adults and older children can use the blocks to encourage language in younger infants (“What’s on this block? What do you see? It’s a dog! What does a dog say?”), while older toddlers can begin matching blocks that ‘belong’ together by pairing or sorting the blocks that have family members on them, or by finding all of the blocks that have pictures of animals, etc.

How to Make your Own

If you don’t want to use photos for your blocks, this is a great way to make use of your old magazines and newspapers.  After you’ve collected and cut out the images you want to place on the blocks, use clear packaging tape to cover the picture while securing it to the block.  Avoid using any kind of chemical gloss or sealant, as this will become dangerous when children put the blocks in their mouths.

Exploration Bottles

What They Are

Exploration, or sensory bottles, are sealed containers filled with different types of materials that allow infants and toddlers to experiment with movement and affects that appeal to our senses by providing a mess-free way for kids to experiment with different materials and textures. Early experiences with cause and effect, weight and movement are all provided by this hand-held bottle that most of us can make out of things we already have in our homes!  Kids love them because they’re often filled with various art supplies and object, such as glitter and marbles. Though commonly thought of by teachers as a science or self-regulation toy, sensory bottles are fun because children can use them in a variety of ways.  Try picking filler materials that will have a different effect when added to the bottle.  For instance, one bottle might have water and glitter in it, while another has corn syrup and marbles.  Babies will be amazed as they see the glitter flowing quickly through the water in one bottle, while the marbles move s-u-p-e-r s-l-o-w-l-y through the other! Adults and older children can use this as an opportunity to talk to babies and toddlers about things like color, shape as well as early concepts of opposites, texture and counting.

How to Make your Own

Empty plastic water bottles are probably the easiest thing to use when you’re just getting started with this fun project.  Once you’ve selected your clear containers to fill, you can begin choosing various materials to fill the bottle.  Be creative and try to make a bottle that will appeal to each of your baby’s senses! A bottle with dried beans will make a great noise when baby shakes it, while a bottle with water in it will be heavier and often cool to the touch.  Once you’ve filled the bottles, seal them by super-gluing the lid onto the container.  Be careful not to use too much glue so that babies can mouth the bottle without risk of oral contact with the adhesive.  Once the cap is secured on to the bottle and the glue has dried thoroughly, your baby will have a great new toy that’s as developmentally stimulating as it is fun!

 

 Baby’s First Wallet

What It Is

Have you ever noticed that babies and toddlers are intrigued by the everyday accessories that belong to adults and older children? Infants and toddlers love to pull picture cards and identification out of wallets almost as much as they delight in finding a few pennies in a coin purse! Parents can keep their things safe while giving baby an interesting and challenging way to develop their fine motor skills by putting together a wallet that is just for their little one! 

How to Make your Own

Find an old or unused wallet and begin filling it with things that are safe for and interesting to your infant or toddler.  Old gift cards or grocery store club cards are perfect for filling the small pockets of a wallet, while larger laminated pictures make a fun alternative for the bill-fold section of the wallet.  As the child gets older, the wallet may not be as challenging to manipulate as it once was, but kids will still enjoy using it for dramatic play and to mimic the ‘grown-up’ behaviors that they observe when watching you at the grocery store, library, etc.

 

As with selecting any toy for your young child, avoid small items that may become choking hazards as well as any materials that are considered toxic or harmful if ingested. 

Have you ever experimented with making your own toys for young children?  Please share your stories and ideas in the comments section!

 

Candice Leary-Humphrey

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