As much as kids love shiny new toys, they are even more curious about taking a peek into your closet or kitchen cupboard! You probably experienced seeing the joy on child’s face when playing without commercial toys! Let’s get you inspired for a next treasure hunt to turn something ordinary to a brand new “toy” for your child!
Why Playing without Commercial Toys?
Like many parents I find that we are sometimes over run with commercial or branded toys. I believe there is a place for all toys in a child’s life but everything should be in moderation. It is easy to get swept along with the latest craze that has been marketed to us and our children. Before you know it the toy box is full of the same sort of ‘stuff’ and the ‘play’ can become very brand focused. So I was delighted when Best Toys 4 Toddlers suggested Less Toys. More Play. as a series.
What can we use?
Anything that is not branded and not necessarily classed as a ‘toy’. Obviously take care on what you select to give your child to play with, it must be child friendly and age appropriate. Look through your cupboards and your recycling for things to give the child to play with, here is a list of ideas that we used to get you started:
- A silk scarf
- Egg box full of plastic gold and silver nuggets plus some paper snowflakes
- A fancy jewellery box with a necklace inside
- A box full of ribbons, straws and paper
- Some gardening gloves
- A huge map of your country
- A hat
- A sparkly gift bag
- A plastic bowl
- Some cardboard tubes
- LOTS of crinkly paper packaging
- A wicker hamper basket
Setting the Scene and Build up to the Play
With some imagination, it is possible to engage your child before you even start playing! I told my daughter that we would be playing with the hamper basket whilst she was having her breakfast.
She was asking lots of questions about what it was for and why we were going to play with it. She suggested that it could be a pirate treasure chest or something from the farm.
Her excitement was definitely building as she kept going up to the conservatory door and looking at it. When it was time to play she was already chattering to her teddy about what could be inside.
Playing, Exploring and Using our Imaginations!
She opened the hamper basket and began to unpack the items with squeals of delight, amusement and the occasional ‘am I really allowed to play with this?’ She opened the boxes and examined the contents and began to play. Here are some of the play ideas that she explored:
Dressing up – with the hat, ribbons, gloves and the silk scarf. She pretended that she was a queen because of the jewels.
Pirate Treasure and Music Shakers – the plastic nuggets were hidden in the jewellery box. This rattled and we soon had some wonderful made up songs about pirates and their treasure as we looked for them on the giant map!
Tying things to things – with the ribbons and bows. She tied them onto a variety of objects around the room. Then she untied them and retied them.
Making a Mess and Tidying up – the paper packaging was thrown about the room with lots of enthusiasm. She then got a broom and began to sweep it up before throwing it around the room again! Just being allowed to make a mess was great fun!
Nests and Hibernating Animals – the packaging looked like a nest so she began to put her teddy on it. She then talked about the animals that are hibernating and hid her teddy inside it!
Hide and Seek – she hid in the ‘nest’ with the silk scarf on top of her and had the whole family ‘looking’ for her. She would then jump up and give us all a fright!
Tidy up for Next Time – when it was time for lunch she was happy to tidy everything back into the hamper basket. She told me she could not wait until the next time we played with the basket and that she had REALLY enjoyed it.
And best of all? No mention of any of the current toys or brands that have dominated her play over the recent weeks! It was lovely to see her making things up rather than relying on ideas that dominate magazines and other media at the moment!
We started Less Toys. More Play. article series as a way to squeeze more play out of fewer toys and we are happy to have a number of great family friendly bloggers joining us and sharing their ideas with us!
Helen is a former primary school teacher and art historian. She writes at Peakle Pie about all the creative ideas that she explores with her daughter Peakles. They both love playing and learning at the same time. Since Peakles started school in September, Helen has been keen to balance her school time with play sessions that allow Peakles to explore, learn and just have fun.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
- 20 Reasons to Say YES! to Less Toys. More Play.
- Less Books = More Reading
- Donating Toys
- Simple Outdoor Play Ideas
- Repurpose Old Technology into New Toys for Imaginative Play
- 5 Things to Consider When Choosing Toys (And What to Avoid)
- Simple Washing Station for Toddlers