Remember your little one’s excitement when you first shook a rattle near her ears? Or the quizzical look on your infant’s face the first time she touched something cold? As adults, we often take our five senses for granted, but for a child, these are the tools used to explore the world around. Sensory play is an essential part of early childhood development, for not only does it foster cognitive growth but also stimulates the child’s emotional and creative development.
Toddlers and preschoolers are easily bored with the standard store-bought toys. Often, these expensive toys are left to collect dust in a corner of the house while your toddler is busy playing with something as insignificant as a pot. That is why DIY home-made toys are a brilliant way to keep your little ones engaged.
DIY toys are not only easy on the pocket but are a great way to develop children’s motor skills and teach your young ones the fundamental basics -- shapes, colours, sizes, words. For older children, creating these toys at home with their parents becomes a bonding activity. Since most of the toys are made by reusing everyday household objects, it also inculcates the importance of recycling in children.
Here are a few easy-to-make DIY toys that your young ones will enjoy playing with:
1. Sensory Board
Children are, by nature, highly inquisitive. You would have often noticed your little ones trying to open cupboards, feel new surfaces or even pull wires. So why not create a centralised area to satiate their urge for exploration?
- Thick cardboard that can be mounted on the wall
- Ziplock bag filled with confetti
- Ziplock filled with coloured water (using natural food colouring)
- Double sided tape
- Different textured fabrics
- Strands of wool
- An old calculator
- Some mild spices- cinnamon, cardamom
- An old rattle
- Wooden spoon
- An old steel bowl
- Other ‘child-safe’ objects that tickle your little one’s curiosity
- Decide on a draft layout for all your objects
- Secure the objects on to the board with the tape
- Watch as your child moves from object to object discovering new things through his senses
2. Threading activity
Create a fun activity that will help develop your child’s fine motor skills and also help them learn colours and counting
- 10-12 Cardboard tubes ( from used tissue paper)
- Coir rope
- Paint the tubes in different colours
- Tie the end of the coir rope into a knot big enough to stop the tube from passing through
- Help your toddler string the tubes onto the coir rope.
- Cut the tubes into halves if too long
3. Cardboard Puzzle
Children love solving puzzles and from toddlers to older children, almost everyone loves the challenge involved. Puzzles are a useful way of building inquisitiveness in little ones and honing their problem-solving skills.
- A big piece of cardboard
- A page from a picture book or magazine
- Stick the magazine/picture book page on a cardboard piece of similar size with glue.
- Cut this into many pieces of different sizes and shapes in such a way that they look like different parts of a puzzle.
- Mix them up and ask your little one to join them.
- You can make many similar ones with colouring pages, cereal boxes and so on.
You would have often noticed your little one intently remove objects from a container and put them back in. You can further enhance their learning by turning this interest into an exploratory game.
- 1 old tissue box with a slit on top
- Plain coloured fabric
- Cut your fabric into squares that fit into the tissue box
- Cut felt into different shapes and stick or stitch it onto the fabric
- Put these squares inside the box and let your toddler pull them one by one and discover a new shape, colour or alphabet every time.
5. Colour sorter
Here’s another simple and fun way to teach your toddler colours and develop their linguistic skills. All you need is three simple ingredients!
- 4-5 egg cartons
- Old newspapers
- Paint individual sheets of newspaper in the colour of your choice
- Crush and roll these sheets into balls
- Paint the egg cartons corresponding to the colour of the balls
- Help your toddler place these painted balls in the right egg carton
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