Thursday, October 23, 2008

13 Everyday objects to put in a toddler's busy box


As part of my 15 month-old's daily routine, she spends twenty minutes playing alone on a blanket.

As long as she has something interesting to do there, she is very content to sit quietly (and in fact, she emerges from the time a more peaceful, happier baby than when she began).

The challenge, sometimes, is coming up with interesting things for her to explore each day. We have neither the space, money, nor inclination to keep filling the house with new toys; but I have found that there are everyday household items that can do just as well.

Here are some of the more successful everyday objects turned toddler toys:

1. Spools of thread- good for stacking and placing in and out of a container.

2. Tupperware containers- or old sour cream, yogurt containers, etc. She especially likes putting the lids on and off.

3. Water bottles half- filled with water (with lids tightly screwed on!) she loves to shake them and watch the water splash.

4. Old photographs. We have a lot of extra copies of pictures or prints that didn't turn out as well as we would have liked around the house. My baby LOVES looking at these and pointing out people she knows.

5. Dominoes-They make such a satisfying "clink" when they knock together. Great for stacking.

6. Spoons- especially if there is some sort of container for her to bang them on.

7. Stack of Paper Cups. These are great for nesting.

8. Cassette Tape holders- Fun to open and close and put little things in them.

9. Set of Playing Cards- If you have a deck that is missing a card or two, you could still get some good use out of them by giving them to your baby. My aunt and uncle had a deck like this that they covered with photographs. Whenever they played card games with friends, they would take out their baby's deck so she wouldn't be tempted to grab at the cards in their hands.

10. Measuring Cups- especially the kind that are strung together on a ring.

11. Sweet Potatoes- Truly! There is a definite "creatureliness" to their appearance, which, I guess is the reason my daughter seems to have an affection for them. She treats them like dolls and carries them around the house if I let her.

12. Clothes pins- But if they are the new kind, you might want keep an eye on your baby with them. Mine has a tendency to pinch herself and get upset.

13. Cookie cutters. If you have carpet, these are fun to press into the pile and then "erase" by rubbing at the shapes.

Even with all these options, some days I'm still at a loss for what to give my daughter during blanket time. I would love to hear about the everyday things you've turned into toys!

18 comments:

FickleMinded said...

they prefer to play with the stuff like that rather than real toys :D

Amy's Blah, Blah, Blogging said...

When my 2 1/2 year old was about that age those were definitely some of her favorite objects. I had a drawer of tupperware that she absolutely loved to go through. That drawer certainly helped make many nights of making dinner a whole lot easier!

Now that she's this old, the only thing of these that holds her attention is a deck of cards, she loves them!!

Alice Audrey said...

That's a great collection of things to explore.

My TT is at http://aliceaudrey.wordpress.com

Marina said...

Nice list! I'll have to peruse your other entries later on. Toilet paper rolls and juice concentrate lids are old standbys in our house. My T13 is at:
http://texasbookwoman.blogspot.com/2008/10/thursday-thirteen-9-13-things-i-miss.html

Kalisha said...

Those are great ideas! I found your site through Tuesday Tip Jar. My girls always loved playing with anything not a toy; When we go to the park instead of "sand toys" we take old containers, plastic bowls and measuring cups.
Kalisha
http://mommylounge.wordpress.com

Donna(mom24boyz) said...

I love the list! Great job. When she is a little older you might enjoy making a portable rice box...or a portable bean box. You simply put a ton of rice or beans in a nice size plastic container. Fill it with small cups, measuring cups, spoons, yogurt cups, toys, what ever. Put a lid on it and you can take it with ya to the park or any outdoor event you want to keep your little one busy. My son loves playing in his rice box. It is better than sand since it wipes off your kids close much easier.
My husband also made our kids a lock board. It was a piece of wood and he screwed on it various door locks, hook/eye, chain locks. twist ones. door handles, knobs etc. My son loved playing with that for hours.

Your Frugal Friend, Niki said...

Isn't it amazing what they'll play with? It's a wonder why we even buy them toys!

:)

LB said...

thanks for these ideas! I have a 15 month old daughter, and we are running out of ways to keep her entertained without purchasing new toys. We plan to buy a few new things for Christmas, but that is still a ways away. I would love to hear how you get your daughter to stay on that blanket!! That would be wonderful for me because I would be able to get some stuff done around the house.

Katey Magill said...

Donna- that lock board sounds like a lot of fun! My dad did something similar for us when we were little- only he was an electrical engineer so the stuff he put on it was different (tiny light bulbs that lit up, little sounds, etc)

lb- keeping my daughter on the blanket has actually been easier than I would have thought. I got the idea from a book called Toddlerwise by Gary Ezzo. The Ezzos are pretty controversial, but you might want to get a copy of the book, pick out what you can use and ignore whatever you might disagree with.

Mostly, we are able to keep her on the blanket because for a long time we have been training her to respond correctly to the word "no." I set a timer and explain to her that she can get up when the timer rings; then whenever she starts to get off the blanket, I firmly and calmly said "no" and give a disapproving look. I also make a point of praising her quite a bit when she plays nicely on the blanket.

I started our first session at 5 minutes and gradually increased up to 25 minutes. It took her about a session and a half before it seemed like she completely understood what was going on.

She typically does one blanket time in the morning and one in the evening. I think it also helps that it's part of a regular routine; so it feels normal to her. Good luck!

ladyofvirtue said...

Good job on these very usable ideas!

emw said...

I love this idea and am bookmarking it to use when my 4 month old is a little bigger! One question... have you posted anywhere about what your daily routine is? I love to hear what others do and pick and choose what works for us. I'd appreciate your ideas.

emw said...

I love this idea and am bookmarking it to use when my 4 month old is a little bigger! One question... have you posted anywhere about what your daily routine is? I love to hear what others do and pick and choose what works for us. I'd appreciate your ideas.

Katey Magill said...

Donna- that lock board sounds like a lot of fun! My dad did something similar for us when we were little- only he was an electrical engineer so the stuff he put on it was different (tiny light bulbs that lit up, little sounds, etc)

lb- keeping my daughter on the blanket has actually been easier than I would have thought. I got the idea from a book called Toddlerwise by Gary Ezzo. The Ezzos are pretty controversial, but you might want to get a copy of the book, pick out what you can use and ignore whatever you might disagree with.

Mostly, we are able to keep her on the blanket because for a long time we have been training her to respond correctly to the word "no." I set a timer and explain to her that she can get up when the timer rings; then whenever she starts to get off the blanket, I firmly and calmly said "no" and give a disapproving look. I also make a point of praising her quite a bit when she plays nicely on the blanket.

I started our first session at 5 minutes and gradually increased up to 25 minutes. It took her about a session and a half before it seemed like she completely understood what was going on.

She typically does one blanket time in the morning and one in the evening. I think it also helps that it's part of a regular routine; so it feels normal to her. Good luck!

Kalisha said...

Those are great ideas! I found your site through Tuesday Tip Jar. My girls always loved playing with anything not a toy; When we go to the park instead of "sand toys" we take old containers, plastic bowls and measuring cups.
Kalisha
http://mommylounge.wordpress.com

Alice Audrey said...

That's a great collection of things to explore.

My TT is at http://aliceaudrey.wordpress.com

Dentalhyg1 said...

My daughters favorite toy when she was a baby was an empty peanut butter jar with clothes pens in it. The lid was tightly screwed on so she couldn't get them out. She would play with them for hours rolling and shaking them and stacking them.

Midnight Peapod said...

food color, water and a bit of olive oil in a tightly screwed water bottle.

small boxes - jewelry, empty jello boxes, etc.

the ziplock park of a sandwich baggie!

Rachelcduree said...

I give my 15 month oldson little magnetic letters and a metal cookie sheet and he has a blast.