If your children are stood in room full of toys but are claiming they’re bored consider some of these simple tricks to bring new life to their previously forgotten toys.
Most children have a favorite TV show and often a collection of the merchandise to go with it. However, these character toys often don’t have the longevity we’d hope for and end up discarded after the initial excitement of opening them has worn off. In this household Octonauts has been the favorite for years. Between both boys we’ve built up a huge collection of plastic figures from magazines, (thanks grandma for mailing them all over the world to us!), official toys and random sea life items that oddly enough don’t actually get played with much. But I’ve found that by adding a new background or setting for them to play in their imagination can be sparked for hours.
The current favorite, inspired by my desperation one wet weekend, is sensory rice. I simple add food coloring, as per these instructions, to a large pack of rice and throw in a selection of the figures along with possible story creating props and a few scoops to help manipulate the sensory materials. Children are easily inspired by the stories they’ve seen in their shows and books, scenarios modelled with them and their own imaginations. It’s such a great way to reinvest them in the toys they already.
Seascapes lend themselves to many, many lovely materials which may be why our Octonauts have stuck around so long. Water beads (UK link) and water colored water will be out again this summer. Children are fascinated by the way the tiny water beads grow. If you’re children are still prone to putting things in their mouths you could try tapioca pearls (UK link) instead – they are on my list of materials to investigate not least because they are a more natural alternative. Ice also adds some wow factor. Simply adding ice cubes is a sensory treat but it’s excitement central if you freeze the sea creatures in a block of ice for the Octonauts to rescue! (Simple put them in a tub of water in the freezer the night before and tip it out for them the next day. Minimal prep, easy win.)
Paw Patrol made their sensory debut here this week with the recreation of Adventure Bay in our water table. Less than 5 minutes prep – I simply put play sand on one side, a little blue color in the water area and dot the play figures about. The hero pups helped save some stranded swimmers and then went right off script by building a giant green shower for their vehicles – but that’s the fun of it! The new materials allow their imaginations to run.
Play dough has come in handy for our construction vehicles – and Blaze and the Monster Machines come to think of it. The kids have had hours of fun digging it, building with it and creating tracks. Dirt – in our unplanted flower bed – works much the same way. And of course there’s always the good old cardboard box! Cardboard boxes are ideal for building homes, car parks, fire stations or whatever your characters need.
It really is as simple as that. One new element that they haven’t played with before and the whole set of toys is as good as new!
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