One thing I've discovered now that I have a toddler is that sometimes the "coolest" toys aren't Quentin's favorite things to play with. He has some toys that light up, make music, and are very colorful, but he generally wont play with them for long and does not choose them everyday. Maybe it's just my kiddo, but right now he really likes toys that require him to manipulate smaller objects in some way (stacking blocks, sorting things, putting objects in and taking them out). I want to foster this, because I know he is learning a lot of great skills: fine motor skills from stacking and putting things "in," prepositional concepts like "in" and "out," asking for help and the sign for "open."
Before Quentin was born, I was a Speech-Language Pathologist for a preschool for children with special needs. It was a wonderful place, and I got to work closely with the special education teachers, occupational therapists and play therapists there (and other SLPs!). Thanks to them, I have lots of ideas in my arsenal for things I can do with Quentin and also with younger students with special needs when I go back to work. This idea came from one of the teachers I worked with. It's very simple, and yet, it is currently Quentin's favorite toy.
Take an empty cylindrical container with a lid. I used an empty coffee can from Trader Joe's (random side note: I always buy my coffee from Peet's. Always. I bought and drank Trader Joe's coffee for 2 weeks just because I wanted the can. It was actually pretty good. But I can't give up getting my free cup of coffee from Peet's every 2 weeks. Random side note over). Wipe out any residual coffee beans/oatmeal/whatever might have previously resided in the can. Take the lid off, and cut a 3/4 inch square in the top with a craft knife or a box cutter. Add a dozen or so clothespins to the can and you're done.
|Please excuse the off-white play mat. White on a play mat is not the brightest idea. Or at least, it becomes less bright over time. Having a French flag in our family room, though, was an amazing idea. Courtesy of Trevor. (Really. It was his idea).|
If you have an older child who wants to help make this toy for a little brother or sister, you could have the older child decorate the outside of the can with pieces of tissue paper and mod podge, or just have them draw a picture that you can wrap around the outside of the can.
When you're done, demonstrate how the toy works to your little one. They'll catch on quickly and *hopefully* be entertained for a while by putting the clothespins in the can one by one and asking you to take them out again.
|Here is Quentin on the morning I made the toy. Refining his clothespin-inserting-skills.|
|This is a sight I see often now. Walking over to me clutching the coffee can to ask me to open it.|