Oh so many things to play with!

_DSD0885In our last post we talked about open-ended toys. About what they (don’t) do and what they facilitate. Many of you have then asked what exactly those toys could be for certain age groups. A while back we had a post about what our boys loved to play with when they were babies. So we thought we’d now share a short list of toys for kids from 6 months up, mainly focusing on the fact that the children are mobile, crawling and walking, and therefore able to follow the toys around.

The age span is huge, so first and foremost make sure that the toy is safe for the age you are interested in – for example, if it’s a child just over 6 months they are still learning the world by putting objects in their mouth, so anything made of paper or too small might not be a good idea.

The main thing is that once they are safe to use, they stay with the child for… well, we’re not sure for how long. For ever perhaps? We still have all the stuff our boys used when they were tiny – except now they are getting a new life in pretend and fantasy play!

Since we look at play as ‘the highest form of research’ (Einstein) as well as an innate urge, we give ideas what schemas a child might be working on using these objects. You will surely notice how many areas of development they engage, and that these ‘toys’ tend to provide play experience for all senses. The list here is intended as a collection of ideas ☺ and it is not exhaustive – so if you have more please share with us!

All the stuff you probably have lying around 

triple frame_Anto & kocyk

Pieces of fabric, scarves etc.
Make sure that the size is safe, and these can provide a long list of fun things to do – carrying them around, carrying things in them, covering your face, or something else (enveloping schema). Later on they are very flexible in pretend play – in our house they have become lakes, rivers, parking lots…

Boxes / Containers/ Tupperware/ Baskets
Cardboard boxes rule the world in this department, but there are others as well – any container that is safe is good for it. Surely you have them lying around, after all so much food these days comes in containers of some kind. It doesn’t matter big or small. If only a small bottle cap fits in it or if the child itself can hide inside. This is about sensory processing “What fits in where”(containing schema). Big and small. Filling and emptying. But most importantly: endless fun.

Can be carried around like Mom and Dad do when they go to work or shopping. They can be filled with exciting stuff. Then emptied. They can be worn (on your head?) (transporting schema; containing schema). They can… BE A LOT !

Things you might be inclined to throw away… but don’t!

_DSD0857Bottle caps; Lids…
… can be little people. Boats. Cars. Money. Food. Tiny cups. Or imaginary objects our adult imagination wouldn’t ever think about. The can be lined up, counted, used to build towers…With safe plastic bottles you can leave the caps on and the children can screw and unscrew. Open and close. Fill and empty. Drink and serve. (containing schema; rotating schema)

Toilet paper/ kitchen roll tubes
Don’t throw these out ☺ You can collect them and have a box ready for pretend play, for building, for artsy activities. For looking through. For taping on the wall and weaving ribbons through them, or dropping beads or chestnuts and checking how loudly they fall out onto the floor.

Odd socks, old hats
Pretend play. Fantasy play. Clothes for teddies and dolls. Good for putting other things into.

Empty tissue boxes
Ahh, again the joy of putting into and taing out of can be explored endlessly with these.

Oh the stuff your kitchen is full of:

Wooden spoons;



Pots and pans, of course!

What nature provides us with:

Chestnuts, acorns
For collecting, piling, counting, lining up. For cooking and throwing. To give them names and play house.

Where do we begin? If your kid is a stick-person, I don’t think we need to say anything more here…

You can have your very own sandbox in a small box! Ute Strub, a physiotherapist who collaborates closely with the Pikler Institute in Budapest uses sand for incredibly creative sensory play. She provides all kinds of kitchen utensils (spoons, sieves, colanders etc.) and sand in boxes and baskets – not only kids have fun, believe us!

A lovely post about nature’s toys can be found here.


IMG_3169Balls of all sizes. Many of those. In fact – at this stage you might want to have A LOT of everything. We humans are collectors by nature. We like to gather a nice amount of things around us. So children do that too.
We gave our son a basket of 144 ping pong balls for his birthday. Can you imagine the sound they make when being emptied onto a wooden or stone floor? Ping ping ping… He loved the feeling of digging into the basked with his whole arms. Then from the very bottom shoveling them all out. Throwing them around. And even putting them into his mouth and trying to spit them as far as possible. Oh the fun! (Nadine)

(Stacking) Cups
They make towers. The fit into each other. They can be filled with other toys. They can be _DSD1049hats. They can be…

Well we had a whole post about cars and what they allow. Our boys are now 3,5 years old. Cars are still the favourites.

Pull along toys
No matter if it is a duck or a truck – when before a child can walk he will be busy pushing everything that isn’t screwed to the floor, he will then be happy to have something to drag along once he can walk freely.

None of these examples have a label like “fine motor skills“, “hand-eye-coordination“, “language developments“ etc. Because they all encourage those skills without being made for one or the other. They simply are. And with every child they become something new. They open a whole new world every day.

What are your child’s favourite open-ended toys? How does he play with them? Tell us your play story, or maybe send us a photo of your child playing with his favourites!

3 thoughts on “Oh so many things to play with!

  1. sand, water, coloured rice, stacking cups, the plastics draw in kitchen, trains/tracks/cars, scarves, music, balls, swings, little figures (for pretend play, little people animals etc), blocks, wooden and duplo, messy play….. lots of other things too. too many to list, I have gotten rid of all the plastic noisy stuff we have had given to us, and am clearing out other stuff I no longer think we need……

  2. So many things! Anything that Mummy and Daddy use :-) Favourite from before he could walk was pegs – and even now they are great fun. The other big one at the moment is his ballpit – great for diving into, hiding himself and other objects, throwing the balls out of and back into, using kitchen utensils to try and pick them up – his imagination is endless!

  3. My daughter ( not yet two) loves her little apron. I made it for her out of an old dish towel by sewing on some cotton ribbon. She asks to wear it every time she sees me in the kitchen (which is A Lot) and she’ll pull up a little chair and stand next to me at the counter. Measuring cups and spoons are great, and throwing a tablespoon or two of flour on the counter keeps her occupied and entertained for a long time (and let’s me get some cooking done too).

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