Creative play helps children to develop thinking skills. In part two of this two-part series, you’ll find ideas for toys that encourage trying out roles.
Children learn about the world from observing and imitating those around them. When my son was a toddler, I devoted a corner of our kitchen to create a play kitchen. We started with a few plastic bowls, then graduated to plastic food items, cooking implements and a little stove. At nearly 4, he still often “cooks dinner” alongside me.
Playing at the YMCA’s Child Watch one day, my son was fascinated by a Little Tikes play vacuum cleaner shaped like a dog. I later found the same toy at a church sale. Little Tikes discontinued the dog vacuum but now sells a realistic-looking bubble popper vacuum. Or take a couple sections out of a Swiffer mop handle and create a sweeping toy that actually works!
One of my son’s favorite toys is a Take-A-Part Crane by Battat, which uses large plastic bolts and a play power drill. Battat also makes tool kits, medical sets, and tea party sets.
As well as looking for toy lawnmowers, benches, blenders and more, introduce your little one to play electronics. As a toddler, my son enjoyed his Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Screen Laptop, and he also loved his My First Camera by Play Right.Now, at nearlyl 4, he’s graduated to a LeapPad (for educational computer games, photo editing fun and more) and a Kid Tough Digital Camera.
My son has several toy phones, but his first play phone was an old handheld game at his grandfather’s place, which is the size of a cell phone!
Playing dress-up encourages playing out roles, telling stories, and expressing imagination. Look for fun hats, shirts, accessories and clothing items at after-Halloween sales, dollar stores and thrift stores. We keep them our a bin for easy access.
Dolls and Puppets
Babies are hardwired to respond to faces, which is why one of our son’s first favorites was a plush elephant teether my husband nicknamed Harry Elefonte.
From the time we brought him home, our boy enjoyed when we used puppets. This past year he’s mastered hand puppets himself. We act out books or tell new stories.
This year, our son adopted the doll we’d used while taking a parenting class. He named her, cradles her, feeds her and even gave her one of his earliest toys, a squeaky giraffe! It’s fun to watch him and imagine the parent he might be someday.
Other articles by Alyce:
Building and Transportation Toys to Encourage Creative Play
How I Entice My Picky Eater to Try New Foods
Father’s Day Gift Ideas: What Dads Really Want