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Once your child becomes a toddler a whole new world of toys are suddenly available to them. They can shake and hold, throw and grasp, walk and run... it's a very exciting (and challenging!) time for parents and carers. But, how should a toddler's home or setting be equipped?
Toddlers basically play with whatever is available to them. They need stimulus and an actual 'thing' to play with but at this age it doesn't really matter if it's from an expensive toy shop or your kitchen drawers! They don't know if something has been passed down from an older cousin or if it's brand new.
It is, of course, difficult to put down exactly which toys your toddler needs, because it depends largely on what they like to do and what they already have, but as a rough guide, the types of toys for toddlers should probably fall into the following areas in order to give them a wide ranging and exciting choice.
The Natural World
In order to teach your toddler about nature and the world they need to learn about the natural materials available to us. Whether you live in a house with a garden or a flat without any outside space, there are so many ways to introduce the natural world.
- Go explore the park or woods and find lots of different things made from different materials. Find sticks, stones, leaves, grass.
- Go to the green grocer or market and look at all the different vegetables and fruits on offer. Look at the colours, textures and shapes. Even try one you've not have before and eat it together.
- Talk about your food and where all the things come from.
Fill a basin or an old baby bath and splash around with plain water, water will bubbles, warm water and cold water. Find spoons and sieves and all sorts of things to play with in the water.
- Add a few drops of food colouring to water and play with coloured water. Mix the colours to see what happens.
- Wash a doll or teddy. Splash around with bubbles and soap and have lots of fun. Dry them and at the end wrap them in a towel.
- Get various objects from round the house and see if they sink or float; whether they get wet (like fabric) or go slippery (like plastic). Fill and empty things and see that large beakers have more water in them than small beakers.
Buy some modelling clay or play dough, or make your own (log into ToucanLearn to find recipes) and just have a squidgey time! Make mud pies and mountains and get really messy. (Just make sure you protect your clothes, surfaces and floor!)
- Make shapes and roll the clay into balls. Squash it; pound it; prod it and see what happens.
- Add rice or lentils too and knead it into the clay to make it textured.
- Make pretend clay people, or food or animals. Snip straws and stick them in to make antennae for clay insects or arms for people.
Get a sand pit or go to the beach and build castles, make tunnels or simply add water and change dry sand into sopping wet sand.
- Make some sand mounds and stamp them flat. Count them as you go.
- Build some roads for toy cars or animals and put them in the sand. Drive them around.
- Wrap some stones with silver foil and bury them in the sand. Then try and find the buried treasure!
Try and include some building blocks in your toddler's toy box. They are great for building a make believe train, or a castle.
- Count them; sort them, build with them.
- Make a long line with them, match them and roll them.
Here we've offered just a few basic ideas. Toddlers with even some of the above stimulating equipment will have lots of brilliant experiences. Have fun!