Do this before you buy any more toys or resources!!
Sorry that was a bit bossy wasn't it, but it is true and I cannot emphasise it enough!
When wondering the aisles of the supermarkets or bargain shops it's so easy to think that you need to buy ALL the toys to keep your kids busy but it's just not the case! You go into a shop for one thing and next minute you've spent £50 on a basket full of stuff you didn't even need!! It's so easily done!!
So before you head to the shops I am going to share my top secret for creating lots of ways to play without spending any more money!
COLOURS!! Yep it's all about colours when it comes to activities. Colour actually plays an important role in the toys and resources you put together for your children to play.
Throughout the year, we have many different annual celebrations and events we want to reflect in the way we play at home. Afterall, we know that our children learn about the world around them through play, so we want to provide them with the opportunities to practise what they are experiencing through their play at home.
So let's think now about those key events that come up year after year that we want to join in. Perhaps Christmas, Diwali, Easter, Valentines Day, Spring etc. All of these events often go hand in hand with key colours.
For example, when we think of Christmas we often see a lot of RED and GREEN with maybe some GOLD and WHITE thrown in too. That's because a lot of the items in the shops, a lot of the books we read at home and the decorations linked to this event are those colours.
Once you identify the colours linked to a key event, that will help you to find resources, toys, books and household items you already have at home that you can use to support this theme and create a wide variety of play opportunities.
When grouping a selection of items in the same colour or sticking to a colour theme for an event it can very quickly and easily look very effective yet you haven't spent any money at all! For example, pick out just the green building blocks you have at home and use them to build a Christmas tree! A group of items can look very inviting to a young child when gathered together!
The most useful items to look for when creating a colour themed collection linked to a key event would be those that are most open ended and allow your child to play with them in different ways. Some of the key items I would look for to add to a collection would be:
- food colouring (allows you to dye play dough, water, rice, pasta etc)
- play dough
- material (pillow case, bedsheets, scarves, ties etc)
- building blocks
- washi tape
- pom poms
- colouring pencils, pens, glitter etc craft type items
- cups, plates or bowls for sorting etc
- paper, card, foam sheets, felt etc
Once you have put your collection together, possibly in a box or drawer for easy storing and access you will see just HOW much you have already before you've even stepped foot in a shop! Now you might look at this list and think I don't have any of those and don't worry, it's just a guide and I hope it might help you when choosing to invest in items to encourage play at home. Remember you don't need them all! Make your collection with what you DO have! You will still be amazed, there will be more than you think!
Now at this point you may spot something like a toy or resource that could enhance your collection like investing in a set of small animals or people etc and that's a great way to build your collection of resources with things you ACTUALLY need, not being influenced by what's in the shops.
And don't forget many resources can also be handmade! I like to make things with foam sheets- they last a lot longer than card or paper and can be used time and time again. Or perhaps making shapes with salt dough and cooking and painting them to create something that can be used every year when this event comes around!
Finally, just after key events like Valentines and Christmas, the shops sell off their items for ridiculously cheap prices so always worth a look if there's something you are in need of!
Finally, here is a list of some key events in the year and the colours I personally associate with them. You might think other colours work so go with what works for you and your family. And if you're not sure of colours for that theme, take a look at the shops, books and resources you have, do you notice any patterns?
Winter/ Snow: pale blue and white
Christmas: red and green with some gold
Valentines day; red and pink
Spring; green and yellow
Easter; orange, pastel shades of pink, green and yellow
Halloween; black, orange and purple
Autumn; orange, red and brown
And don't forget we have mini packs of playPROMPTS for lots of special events to help you find creative ways to play with your lovely collections of resources!