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When playing is not just playing

March 11th, 2009


Do children under 3 years old need formal education?

Do we need to buy them learning programs and educational software?

In a previous post, I pointed out a recent debate about whether DVD programs such as “Baby Einstein” are any use at all.

Do children learn by sitting and watching? Do they learn sitting in a classroom alongside 20 other kids with hands folded on their laps? Common sense will tell you “NO”!

Children learn through play. The best thing about children is, everything is play to them. We don’t need expensive toys, we don’t special equipment, we don’t need to be very creative at all.

Here are 3 ready to use anytime toys we have at home for the kids to play with:

1. Pots and pans and wooden spoons.

2. Magazines for them to rip, crumble and throw as balls.

3. Cheerios and Fruit Loops and plastic bowls to count, sort, and eat.

If you are ready for more creativity, simply make regular visits to your local craft store such as Michaels, and the dollar store, and stock up on inexpensive random materials. Sale and out of season items are perfect. Keep everything in a plastic container and pull it out for a few hours of fun learning for the kids. It also give you quality time together as you are side by side squishing playdough.

Here are my top 10 favorite things to keep around my house, useful for just about any age:

1. Colorful old magazines (with “clean” pictures, not with scantily dressed models and celebs!)

2. Glue

3. Children safe scissors

4. Construction paper

5. Playdough

6. Feathers (the type you buy from the craft store, not pluck from birds!)

7. Stickers – buy lots of these on sale

8. 3 dimensional shapes such as foam balls, wooden blocks, and small boxes

9. Colorful tissue paper

10. Popsicle sticks and the wide tongue depressors are even better

Notice I did not include crayons, because you probably don’t want to clean walls.

Warning – DO NOT stock glitter. The clean up is no fun.

What other materials do you keep handy?

Photo by Childrens Book Review

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