Sunday, 9 August 2015

Easy DIY Educational toys for 0-1 year olds

I knew before our little Annabelle arrived that I didn't want to fill my house with shiny, loud plastic toys that flashed and sang at the touch of the button, they have their place and Annabelle does enjoy them,  but primarily I wanted her toys to be fun and educational, teaching her fine and gross motor skills and teaching her to enjoy learning to work things out and allow her to experience a variety of different materials and textures along the way. Below are a selection of the home made toys I have made her, super easy and cheap to make and she really enjoys playing with them and they have taught her a lot along the way! The cotton reel tub below and the milk bottle top posting box have been her firm favourites for ages now, they keep her happy for ages.

At around 9 months Annabelle developed a LOVE of posting things, I looked it up and kids often have urges to do certain things like posting, or hanging upside down (!) or climbing etc and they are called development schema, you can read more about them on the Nature Play blog here. This toy definitely fed her desire to post and was also very easy to make. All you need are empty cotton reels from ebay or something (ours were painted by her great Grandma when she was in the WI) , and an empty tub with a removable lid (mine was a candy floss tub from Warwick Castle), cut two holes with a scalpel, one so they can go in round end first, and a rectangle hole so they can go in sideways. If I tip these out, she will happily sit there until she has patiently "posted" them all back into the tub. Genius! I stuck the pink coloured card on the lid to give the holes more definition.

Click read more to see the other easy to make toys....

From about 3 months old I have made her a growing selection of "shakey shakeys" as we call them, different shapes and sizes and weights and materials to expand her sensory experiences and hand eye co-ordination and of course to have lots of fun!

For her shakers I have used an empty glass spice jar, single serving jam jar, plastic box my hubbys phone case came in and an unridged juice bottle. They are all filled with different things to get different sounds (I tried out things like rice etc, but they were too quiet!) So experiment with different fillings as the plastic beads against the glass make a lovely high pitch noise, much better than rice or buttons. The glass is heavy and cold and she often likes to suck on that too! The mini jam jar has a single but very weighty metal bead in it. This makes a completely different sound, but it a nice size to hold. Im not worried about her having glass to play with as our house is carpeted, but it is something to be aware of if you make your own. I think the different sizes and weights have really developed her fine motor skills. She is an excellent shaker! She also really loves bells too and these mini maracas we bought on Amazon, took a while to come from China but she really enjoyed them a lot.

This is super simple and so overly used, that this is the second box we have gone through! An empty tissue box, I have run clear cello tape around all the edges and corners to stop it falling apart where she is likely to suck, and then I have filled it with 10 green milk bottle tops, ten red and (almost) 10 blue ones.  Im buying our usual 6 pints of blue top milk in two's at the mo to speed up the waiting process!! Annabelle is was quick to learn to put her hand into the box to pull out the bottle tops, pick the thing up and shake it so they all fell out and is also learning to put them back in! (Now she is older she also puts other things in the box, and holds the box up to her face to see where it is and then gets it out! Looks hilarious!)

I put my hands up here! I saw this idea on Pinterest but it comes from a lovely blog called Laughing Kids Learn! Its called a tug box! Sooooo simple! I didn't actually follow her tutorial (which is very good by the way!) But I took a kids shoe box, covered it in glue, so the paper wouldn't lift off where the holes were made, wrapped it and then using a chop stick poked holes right the way through. I then attached the different ribbons to a kebab stick and threaded them through, knotting on either end enough times to stop it disappearing into the box. I added milk bottle tops for handles on one, and the links you use on a key ring to another for some different ways to tug at the ribbons. This is really good for developing that fine pincer movement needed to pick up small items and fulfils the urge she has to endlessly pull the wipes from the packet, or tissues from the box!

This is my most recent creation, Hubby and I call it the "Infipost!". I used some extra cardboard to build a slope on the inside so that when the ball falls it rolls down the slope and out the hole, I also put some cardboard in the front corners to angle the balls out so they don't get stuck in the corners.
I thought Annabelle would love it because she can just keep re-posting the same ball over and over. However, I think it annoyed her at first because the ball kept coming out every times she put it in the hole, and the thing she liked about posting was the fact they stayed put or "disappeared". Anyway she has very much warmed to it nw, and squeals every time the ball comes out an then re-posts it! She has also been experimenting posting other things in the hole and has been delighted that they come out too!

So these I didn't make but I wanted to share anyway. Annabelle LOVES these and we have passed many many many minutes playing with these tape measures. they are the sort that click while you pull them out and then there is a button you press to make the tape whizz back in again. Even from very young maybe 4-5 months she would hold the end of the tape, and I hold the rest of it, I pull it away, "click click click click" and then press the button and whizz it back to her hand = big smiles! And repeat and repeat and repeat until your arm gets tired!! For some reason she loves to hold it to her mouth, or hold it to her head, I guess she likes the vibration of the clicking! Simple but great fun!

The balls, believe it or not are cat toys!! Bought at my local pet shop, she LOVES these, they fit one in each hand and she will often shake and shake and shake them until she has let go and they have flung across the room!!! I think these will be a great encouragement to help her crawl, as they make noise when they roll away! I even stuffed one inside the patchwork ball above that I made her, you can make one too using my pattern and tutorial which I will post at a later date.

Just to cover myself here please don't leave your child unattended with these toys due to the small parts, be careful if using the glass not to use them on hard surfaces incase they break. Be careful not to make the ribbons too long on the tug box to prevent strangulation.

Id love to know if you have any success making these or you have any other ideas of cheap and fun toys to make for you kids. Comment below!

If you like this you may like:
Patchwork fabric Ball (coming soon!)

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