Even without taking the Blog-o-sphere into account, when you add up the number of children you and your friends have between you, it does point to a fair degree of expertise in all things knee-high.
When mine were small (– how I love that phrase now they’re approaching me-high-) friends and I expertly agreed that there were really only three essential toys for our children, whether playing alone, with brothers & sisters or in mum-get-together size groups. (Books don’t count here – but should everywhere else. )
All three in our list bring out the artist in your young ones.
1. A sit-upon car. Best and easiest car purchase you’ll ever make!
A worrying number of people queried our buying a toy car for our girls, but I relished the moment when Rhianna, in full flight as Snow White, refused the prince’s offer of a horseback ride to his castle with a ‘No thanks’ (brandishing plastic car keys) ‘I’ve got my own car. See you around!’
Design, Engineering, Architecture
2. Cardboard boxes/tubes – big, small, any shape.
A 7ft high rocket lived in the recess under our stairs for weeks and when Rhianna finally came down to earth and wanted a bike, the very first thing she did was fix round cheese triangle boxes to a plastic chair to make a tricycle.
3. Play Dough. Kids just adore this. Great for motor skills and superb imaginative play.
Use your judgement about when to let little ones loose on dough; but it can’t do much harm if they do put some in their mouths, and they should be supervised anyway.
Provide spoon, forks, lollypop sticks etc for moulding and cutting; a garlic press makes great hair.
This dough dries out if left in nooks and crannies – there’s enough salt so it doesn’t go mouldy. But it isn’t so good smeared on your soft furnishings. Don’t let that put you off - lay down some rules!
Expensive to buy in decent quantities, but you don’t need to. Breaking my own no recipe rule – here’s a tried and true, worked for me:
Zing’s Play Dough
2 teaspoons Cream of Tartar
1 cup plain flour
½ cup salt
1 tablespoon oil
1 cup water
drops of food colouring
Mix all the ingredients in a non-stick pan, over a steady medium heat. Stir.
As soon as the mixture comes together, remove from the heat, tip the dough onto a board or plate.
Fill the pan with water immediately, as the dough hardens very quickly on the hot metal.
When the dough is cooler to the touch, knead it for a while – you may need a little extra flour if it feels a little greasy.
Cool and it’s ready to go. Keep in a plastic bag or snap-top container when not in use and it will last a while.
There’ll be many more ideas for art activities with children of all ages in Zing’s Works for Me Wednesdays from now on.
Join us next week or sign up for the e-mail so you don’t miss a thing.
Meanwhile, add your top toys to the list in comments.