Tired of those toys you wish they had never invented? Preschool teachers from First Christian Early Childhood Ministries, Mayfair Church of Christ Child Development Center, and Susanna Wesley Early Education Ministry (SWEEEM) suggest you clean out that toy closet and get back to the basics! Here are their recommendations for the top 10 non-toys you can find in your home.
1. Egg Cartons
These are great for sorting small objects. Dump out different beans, gummies, or beads and have your toddler sort by color, size, shape. You can also use egg cartons to separate different paint colors.
2. A Blanket
While this sounds simple, use a rainy weekend to make a fort with your child. Have a picnic in the fort and then cuddle up with a flashlight and read books together. On sunny days, take the blanket outside and use it as a parachute to toss around different balls or take turns running under it.
3. Shaving Cream
Make a mess on the tables and have your toddler practice writing numbers and letters. Fill up a tub with shaving cream and hide different letters, numbers, or objects in it. Have your toddler find these items.
4. Spaghetti Noodles
Stick uncooked spaghetti noodles in Play-Doh so that the noodles are sticking straight up and the Play-Doh acts as a base. Have your toddler practice fine motor skills by stacking Cheerios or Fruit Loops on the noodles.
5. Cookie Sheets
Cookie sheets are great for practicing with magnetic letters. Dictate basic words and have your child spell them. Cookie sheets also work as a great base for toys. Use a dry erase marker to draw a map that your toddler can drive toy cars on, or design a room for small dolls.
Tongs are great for practicing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Dump out cotton balls, pom poms, and other various objects. Have your toddler practice picking these up with the tongs.
7. Measuring Cups
Measuring cups are fun bath toys for scooping water or making boats. Outside the tub, they can be stacked, used for sorting, or used as instruments. They are particularly good for younger children as they are colorful, durable, and easy to grip.
Real money sometimes seems like a thing of the past! Let your older toddler explore coins. Talk about the value of money, identify each coin and what it’s worth. Set up a store and have your child practice buying snacks and toys with the coins.
Flashlights can be used to make hand puppets on the wall. Turn the lights off and have a puppet show. Flashlights can also be used to find objects. Have your child use the flashlight to point to something that starts with an “a”, is blue, has four legs, etc.
Boxes are great for building the imagination. Design cars, dollhouses, rockets, tracks, etc. Cut out different size holes in the box to make a bean bag throw. Help your toddler glue paper towel rolls inside a box to create a marble track.
Photos by Kelly Sikkema, Emma Louise Comerford, Patrick Fore on Unsplash