We’re almost 3 months post-Christmas and you may be wondering why your child doesn’t seem satisfied with their toys. Today I thought I would share a few child care tricks which help my children re-engage with their toys.
Provide toys that are open-ended
Open-ended toys are toys that allow the most diverse ideas for play. Wood blocks, toy animals, toy people, play dishes, and costumes are some examples of open-ended toys. Try to avoid the toys that have the sound effects that go with it. Children can “honk”, “moo”, and “cluck” if they feel like it… avoid toys (or neglect putting batteries in toys) that limit their imagination.
Minimize their choices
Children struggle when they are presented with too many choices. Keep their toy selection small. This also means less to clean up… yay!
Rotate their toys
While you minimize their choices, put some toys in storage and rotate toys in while rotating other selections out. I often find that the toy that my children hadn’t seen for a month becomes suddenly “new” and exciting when it’s brought back into their play space.
Keep it clean
“I just cleaned up the play room and NOW they suddenly want to play with everything!” Does this sound familiar? Children, like adults, often function better in a clean and organized space. If everything is thrown into a toy box, they are less likely to dig through it to find something to play with.
Have clearly defined play spaces
Children won’t play or engage in play if they know that their “work” will be constantly disrupted or repeatedly put away/cleaned up. Each of my girls have a small table in their room. Toys can’t stay on the floor all the time, so a table allows them to set up something and come back to it whenever they wish. I also have shelves in the playroom to house Lego projects that are in the process of being built.
Appeal to their senses
I have an end table located by a small window in the living room. Under the table are a couple baskets of toys. I find this is one of the most utilized spaces in the house. Even though it’s small, it’s brightly lit, and their senses are brought to life by the sight of the scenery outdoors and the smells wafting in from the kitchen.
Reserve some toys for “desperate” occasions
I have five small Rubbermaid bins of toys that I reserve for times when I am in desperate need of a break. I usually take these toys out when my husband is on a business trip or if I’m having an exceptionally difficult day.
Invite a friend over
By having encounters with other children, your children may learn how to play with their toys in a new and unique way. They may learn a new “scenario” to engage in and relive the activities of their play date when their friend is not there.
Present the toys in an interesting way
I always like to create an inspiring play “scene” or a provocative space to create in. Whether the toys are set up on a contrasting mat or the animals of the farm are organized into their individual “pens”, I set up scenes that are waiting to be brought to life by little hands. This sort of forethought will often spark your child’s interest and immediately engage them.
Consider using books and photos to extend their play
I love to include books that apply to the play equipment I am providing. The reason is, my children will often interact with the toy, then they will look at the book, and then afterwards will be inspired to interact with the toy in a brand new way. Posters or interesting photos often have a similar effect.