Toddlers are at an exploratory stage where play helps teach basic concepts and ideas. Playing with toys is beneficial for toddlers as a way to help fine tune motor skills. Making your own easy homemade toys, instead of buying toys, will still keep your little one active and engaged.
Toddlers love to bang on things. They enjoy sounds and are learning how things work, and a drum is one way to find this out. A toddler quickly comes to realise that by striking something on top of a drum, or a makeshift drum, sound is made. Some ideas to create drum toys at home include flipping over various pots and pans and allowing the toddler to play away using wooden spoons. To make a more realistic-looking drum, use clear plastic containers which have lids and fill the containers with varying weights of items such as dried beans, marbles, sand or even uncooked rice. Place the lid on top and allow the child to bang the top like a drum with a wooden spoon. The different containers, housing different weights and types of items, produce a different sound for each drum.
Keeping the theme of playing instruments going, make a homemade tambourine for your little one that he can twist, clap and jiggle until his heart is content. A homemade tambourine in its simplest form can be made taking two heavy duty paper plates and using one to house dry rice, beans or even metal ball bearing. You then place the second plate over top of the plate holding the items and staple the entire edge shut. You can add some streamers or ribbons around the edges to hide the staples or simply make the tambourine fancier. Have the child play the tambourine along to music or create his own music.
Maracas are another toddler friendly toy because they are easy to operate. To make a simple pair of maracas yourself, get gourds with stems from a grocery store or farmer's market. Allow the inside of the gourd to dry out so the seeds pull away from the membranes. Once this happens, your child has an automatic maraca which just needs to be shaken to create sound. If you cannot wait for the gourd drying process, use an empty paper towel or toilet paper tube. Tape one end securely closed and fill the hollow portion with dried beans, rice or nuts. Tape the other end closed and decorate the outside of the tube in festive colours.
Blocks are used by kids for building structures, creating straight lines or even building a toddler version of an elaborate castle. However children use blocks, the basics of the toy remain the same. To make your own set of blocks, purchase 2-by-2 inch pieces of wood at your local hardware or building supply store. Purchase some thick dowel rods while you are there, since not all building blocks have to be cubes. Cut the wood down to make blocks and cylinders in varying sizes, though keep all to a size suitable for grasping by your toddler. Sand down rough edges and paint the wooden blocks, cubes and cylinders. To make the toy more educational, add the letters of the alphabet to the blocks.
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