Toy Shelfie Update
It’s been a while since I’ve posted on the blog about our toy rotation and organisation in our home. I usually freshen things up weekly based around observations of Floss’s play. Some things stay the same, some things are tweaked and others changed completely. You know when you’ve got it right as it’s really played with. This week has a traditional tale and loose parts theme.
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Traditional Tales are really important to explore in the early years. They help children to make sense of the world around them. In a safe way, they can explore characters and situations, asking questions and making judgments about what they see and hear. From my teaching days, I’ve got a collection of different texts around each traditional tale. I love the books that put a twist on what you think of a traditional tale. Blow Your Nose Big Bad Wolf is an example of one of these texts. He’s not so bad, he actually just wanted to borrow some sugar and had a bag cold!
Small world play is imaginative play using small replications of both real and fantasy worlds. Using small world play resources to act out traditional tales helps children remember these stories more. It also allows them not only to re-enact, but to innovate and make up their own versions. Great imaginative play!
You don’t have to have a prefect set of resources. You could make props from things around the home or by making puppets. We’ve got a Schleich pigs and Lanka Kade pig. The houses were gifted to us from Kerri’s Childminding sisters – here’s a link to a post with more ideas for using these fabulous houses and their Etsy shop here. They are incredible! With small world play I always ensure there are loose parts available. Either within the play invitation or close by. This allows children to be able to select and use materials as they see fit and take the play in the direction they choose.
We’ve only recently introduced a perpetual calendar in our home. This one from Grapat is just lovely. It has months of the year as a continual circle helping children to understand the cyclical nature of our year. The circle is split into 4 sections. There are two number cubes which you use to show the date. Each month section has a Grapat Nin to correspond to that month. You can also buy the calendar in different languages – German, French, Spanish and Dutch.
Homemade Loose Parts Additions
We change our theme each month and add different pieces from our toy collections to go with that month. Then each day we change over the date together, talk about the month and sing songs or read poems associated with the month. We often make things to go with our calendar like the bees above. We made these using Tiny Land dough. The trees are one of our favourite toys that get played with everyday. During the summer they make an excellent range of ice lollies!
Often, afternoons are our crafting times. It’s really lovely to have a focus and purpose for our makes. That being said, although we make things for our calendar, they get used in play too. I think when children are involved in the making process they are more motivated and invested. So, these items become favourites. For April we made the lovely little rainbow felted eggs above. The hen/ chick are from the lovely Eric and Albert Crafts and the pebbles are Grimms.
As we’ve been focusing more on the date I’ve removed all the Nins to make it clearer which month we are in. For July we had a moon theme for the Moon Landing Anniversary. You can also purchase the calendar without the Nins. I’ve just made some days of the week people using Flockmen and painting them using Tiny Land toy paints.
Open ended, loose parts resources are great as it really means children can use them in any way they please. We were sent these lovely resources from Hope Education to review (coming soon). The resources aren’t a set. They come as the bowls and balls and rainbow blocks, but Floss loves playing with them together.
Numbers, counting and patterns are very important to Floss currently. The handcrafted, felted bowls have seven matching felted balls. They’re a beautiful, tactile resource and the perfect open ended resource. You can find them here.
The rainbow blocks have a transparent, coloured aperture and come in a range of shapes. A lovely resource on their own, but Floss always uses them with the bowls and balls right now! Block play is something that develops so gradually over time that it is easy to miss it. Children start to attempt to stack blocks, higher and higher and there’s more knocking down than building up. Then suddenly you realise that their designs are something, not just a tower of blocks. They build horizontally as well as vertically. Colours are important and represent different aspects of design. Shapes have meaning and purpose. Blocks are one of our top toys.
If there is one loose parts resource that we have out all the time, it’s different containers. Different sizes, shapes and materials. These get used in so many ways for play. I love how open ended they are as a resource. Floss has used these Respiin containers this week as food bowls, beds, hats, tables for her people and animals, for counting, collecting and sorting objects and generally moving things from one place to another!
Books & Rainbows
These are the books that are on the shelf right now. We have lots of other books in our home, but we choose a couple that we use each morning. Floss loves looking and identifying the different things found in nature.
I just want to give a little shout out to the lovely Amy who handcrafts these stunningly, beautiful rainbows. We bought ours as an Easter gift to ourselves instead of chocolate gifts this year. It brings us so much joy in our home every day. You can see all the different versions and colours she makes, as well as request custom orders, from her Etsy shop here.
We’ve got two toy shelves in our house. The one above is an Ikea Kallax 1×4 that’s a great height for small world play and ensuring accessibility of toys. The other shelf at the top of the post you will see is taller. We have the little step stool below that lives by the unit. Floss loves using these steps and it’s a great gross motor activity too. They mean she’s able to access the house and loose parts easily. She also uses it as a little stool when playing on the lower shelves too.
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