I really try to curtail my desire to keep buying new toys for my daughter Kaya (aged 2) to keep her entertained. I also try to keep her TV watching to a minimum. We let her watch 20-30 min of the Baby TV channel every evening before bathtime, but that’s all she gets. When at home, we keep her entertained by reading books together, playing hide-and-seek, doing puzzles, making arts and crafts, and so on.
However, it’s also important for kids to learn to play by themselves. This gives them a chance to get creative and use their imaginations. I’ve found that Kaya gets bored of her toys quickly and actually prefers things around the house that aren’t made for play, but keep her entertained for hours on end (ok, more like for 20 minutes at a time). Here are some of her favorite non-toys to play with:
1) Bubble Wrap! As pictured above, Kaya loves popping bubble wrap. She actually concentrates really hard when doing so and sticks out her tongue, which is a sign of true focus 🙂 Now every time I get a package, I keep the bubble wrap for play.
2) The Sink. This is by far one of Kaya’s favorite activities. We bring over her step so she can reach the kitchen sink, and I supervise her while she turns the faucet on and off, and fills different containers with water. She also likes to wash her hands with soap over and over again.
3) My Creams. This is a good one for mornings when I’m getting ready in the bathroom. I let Kaya go through my creams (the cheap ones :)) and ask her to put lotion on my legs. She loves opening and closing the different containers and putting cream on my arms and legs.
4) Tape/floss. Sometimes all it takes is giving Kaya tape or tooth floss. Depending on her mood, this can keep her entertained for 30 minutes or more. Unfortunately, it also means that I need to go out and buy more of the stuff.
5) A Wallet. I noticed Kaya loves going through my wallet, which isn’t my favorite plaything because I get paranoid she’ll swallow a coin or lose a credit card. What I did was take an old wallet my husband doesn’t use anymore, and fill it with random business cards, and small pictures. Kaya loves going through it, and pretending to take it on ‘trips’ for around the house.
6) Pictures. Taking out a box of old family pictures also works wonders. Kaya goes through pictures for a while before getting bored.
7) Food. Kaya loves to help me cook/bake in the kitchen. This is a good way to make her feel like a good helper, and learn how to cook at the same time. Of coures, it also means a much bigger clean up for me afterwards, but I try to involve her in cleaning up as well.
And those are my todder’s favorite non-toy playthings around the house. Share some of your childrens’ favorite non-toy activities in the comments!