My granddaughter is now three. She comes to visit me once a year (I live 1000 miles away, after all). So, every time she visits, she will be a year older. The toys that entranced her from her previous visit will be baby toys this time. What to do? She can’t bring many toys with her on the plane. Her current favorite books, maybe. But probably not much else other than a teddy bear.
This year when she and her mother came to visit, it wasn’t much of a problem. She found my collection of milk bottle caps (I keep thinking there must be something to do with these multi-colored pucks), and all was well. She stacked them, put them into and took them out of various containers, made mosaics out of them. Between those and lots of paper and water soluble markers, she was happy during our inside times. But I foresee a time (probably next year) when those simple pleasures will cloy, so I want to plan ahead. Given my smallish house and limited storage space, what can I put by for her entertainment?
Here’s a list of the basics that I came up with. I figure as long as they can fit Maybe you have more suggestions?
Of course, Legos (or Duplos for her younger years). A standard. They don’t take up much room, can be used in endless combinations, and can be found second-hand everywhere. They continue to please older kids, too, and the collection can be added to over the years.
Wooden blocks, of course. And these have the added attraction in that they can be made by hand very cheaply. Mustn’t forget to sand them thoroughly, however. I also like the idea of making some foam blocks and covering them with washable, bright fabrics.
Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
Good for both indoor and outdoor fun. I probably won’t get any rideable ones, however. They take up too much space and I don’t relish going back to the Big Wheels all over the lawn days. But definitely ones big enough to take into the yard or to the beach for road building.
Arts and Crafts Materials
Paper, pencils, crayons and washable markers. These transcend all age barriers. Of course, homemade playdough. And fingerpaint (ooh, I want to do that!) And don’t forget oobleck. I have recipes for all three in this post: Toys You Can Make.
I already have lots of leftover yarn, so I can teach Rosie to knit and crochet when she’s about six. And there are lots of materials out in the woods just waiting to be turned into art projects. Colored tissue paper is good for doll clothes and lots of other projects.
These sort of need to be age-appropriate, but they don’t take up much room.
I have a serious instrument collection problem, so this won’t be an issue. I have drums that can take a beating and a piano that deserves more play than I give it. I’ll even let her play my ukulele (the perfect instrument to learn music on).
Dolls and Dollhouses
Dollhouses require a serious investment of space, so I’m not sure that will happen. But I remember making dollhouses out of shoeboxes with thread spools for tables and chairs. I could get a doll for her that would be the right size for that kind of dollhouse.
I have to admit to still having some of these from when my daughter was little. So we’re good in that department.
Balls of all types, especially ones that can be blown up, since they’ll take up less space when deflated. Nerf bat and ball, good for indoor or outdoor. Since I live by a lake, swim toys are a must, although my local pool has toys to borrow when we go there.
My granddaughter’s daddy is a chef, so she’s already cooking. I foresee great things in our future! And I have plenty of pots and pans already.
Things That Didn’t Start Out as Toys
My aforementioned milk bottle caps fall in this category. Cardboard boxes, milk bottles, tetra paks from juice and broth all make good building materials. Since I recycle, I always have these things on hand. Tissues make great doll clothes. And you can make endless things out of toilet paper and paper towel rolls.
Sharing Your Toys
I mentioned this topic to a friend in choir; she told me there’s an existing “library” of toys being shared on the island, including big things like tricycles and bicycles. So I’ll be giving her a call when Rosie visits next time. It’s worth looking into in your community, perhaps at the senior center? If one doesn’t exist, maybe you can start one!
Please comment with your favorite toy suggestions.