It’s not necessary to invest in expensive educational toys. With a bit of ingenuity, you can stimulate your toddler almost free of charge. By Sister Lillian
Here are five top ideas for homemade children’s educational toys using common household items. These will help parents whose children always ask, “What can we do now?”
Obstacle course (2 to 4 years)
- Use an old bucket and make a hole in it to throw a ball through.
- Cardboard boxes can be used as tunnels, flower pots as stepping stones, and old pillow cases stuffed with newspaper as punching bags.
- An old tyre is excellent for swinging in or jumping on.
Puppets (2 to 4 years)
- A simple hand puppet can be made from an old sock, using buttons for eyes and felt for the mouth.
- Make a paper bag puppet by drawing a face on the bag, then twist the corner for ears and hold in place with an elastic band.
Artwork ideas (3 to 5 years)
- Cut vegetables and sponges into interesting shapes. Dip them into paint and make your own prints.
- Use old yoghurt cups as paint containers
- Use old toothbrushes to create an interesting spray-paint effect. Dip the toothbrush into some poster paint, and holding it over some paper, run your thumb across the bristles. Build up a supply of scrap paper by opening used envelopes, collecting inserts from new shirts, wrapping paper and other packaging
Gardening (3 to 6 years)
Let your child plant herbs in pots, under your supervision. He should water these regularly and harvest the produce as it ripens.
Homemade puzzle (2 to 4 years)
Small children love puzzles, and here’s a very easy and cheap way of making your own to entertain and stimulate a child on a cold, rainy day, or when he’s ill. Paste an old card or magazine picture onto a stiff piece of cardboard. Cut this into different sized shapes and build the puzzle with your child. Once he’s a bit older, he can be helped to make his on puzzles.
- Whether read or sung, nursery rhymes speak to a child’s spirit and love of music. This imbues them with a sense of security, on which much of happiness rests. From the earliest of times, while changing or bathing your baby, rediscover these nursery rhymes and teach them to your child. As they grow, they’ll delight in recognising them and imitating the words and sounds. Apart from the rhythmic tales of yore, page through children’s books from their earliest years, reading aloud to your child. Even if they don’t understand the story, the inflections of your voice will give them great pleasure, and they too will one day easily unlock the enjoyment of reading.
- Certain types of music release relaxing responses in our minds and bodies and do a great deal to make us feel better about ourselves and about life. It’s no different for our babies, and parents would do well to have a house filled with happy melodies.
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