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.
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.
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!)
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.
Try and include some building blocks in your toddler's toy box. They are great for building a make believe train, or a castle.
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!
Birds are wonderful to watch and with a little encouragement can become part of your the family! If you don't fancy a dog or a cat as s pet, then, why not care for some wild birds instead? Children will love spotting them, naming them, watching them feed, looking at their different colours and you can even draw some together.
How to invite the birds into you garden
Fix a bird box into a hedge or tree depending on which sort of box you buy and what type of bird you wish to attract. There are some 5-6 million bird boxes in the country now and as birds' natural habitat declines they are relying more and more on our help.
They need not be expensive. There are about 200 different types of bird box on the market. Some even have hidden cameras so you can spy on the resident of your bird box. However, you can pick up traditional boxes from garden centres or you can try and build your own if you are handy! Once in place, you then have to watch the box and see who moves in!
There are all sorts of bird feeders available. If you have squirrels in your area, you may have to opt for a squirrel-proof feeder as they can be very crafty and manage to get away with all the bird feed! Many birds will come on to feeders even if situated close to you house. So if you don't have a garden, then put a couple of feeders at the window or on your balcony and you may still attract visitors!
Naming the birds
Once you are getting birds into the garden, you can start spotting them and finding out what they are called. You can go online and discover the breeds, or buy a children's spotter book or a sticker book. See how many different types of birds there are in your garden and keep a note of what you see.
Interesting facts about some common garden birds you'll see
2. Blue Tits
Out and About
Taking interest in birds is great for children. Even when you take them out and about, keep an eye of for birds you recognise and ones that are new to you! Try look at the colour of their feathers and then draw them together when you get home.
Here are some fresh ideas to keep your kids occupied in the garden. Get the little ones helping with some unusual tasks like picking fruit (if you have some!) or pulling the heads off dandelions and other weeds. Build a camp by draping an old sheet over a bush or some garden furniture. You're young ones will love to hide from you, and have their own 'house' to play in! Fill some buckets with water, grab some big decorating paint brushes and get them painting the (outside!) walls of your house, garden shed, garage or patio! Older children could try painting letters or numbers or shapes on the wall. Doing tasks like this - and using grown-up tools - is great fun for little ones and getting wet is always appealing for them too!
If the weather where you are is like it is where I am, then it's a perfect day for playing outdoors! Many ToucanLearn activities are based outdoors; it doesn't matter if you have your own private space, all our outdoor activities can be carried out in communal spaces such as parks. The point is that your babies and toddlers can spend time outside. The confines of being indoors prohibit completely free movement, outdoor play allows babies and toddlers to move in less restrictive ways and to interact with their world in different ways. As our children are learning through interaction with their environment, outdoor play forms an important part of the learning experience.
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