Jessica is lucky to have some generous family and friends, and a good selection of charity shops nearby, so she has a lovely range of toys. Some have been passed to us by friends whose children have grown out of them (such as her beloved musical car keys), some have been gifts (her jungle gym) and some I have made for her (her plastic bottles filled with lentils/rice/etc). She has some wonderful charity shop finds (her bead maze) and even some brand new toys (we’ve just had to buy a new Sophie the Giraffe after our original one got lost in Spain).
Lovely as this is, it does add up to a lot of toys. I have a toy box, and a set of drawers to keep them in, and I have turned some old shoe boxes into little bookshelves for all her books.
I nearly always tidy up all the toys every evening so we can start fresh each day. Once or twice I have been just too tired, and I hated coming down the next day to a muddle. A few weeks ago, when I was less tired, I was tidying and wondering how to make sure Jessica doesn’t get bored with her toys or that any get forgotten. Then I had an idea – weekly discovery baskets!
So now I have a large wicker basket with a cushion in the bottom of it, and at the start of the week I put a selection of themed toys in it. Last week they all made sound…rattles, shakers, a xylophone and so on. This week it is filled with balls…a big bouncy one, a knitted one, a spiky one and several more besides. I also have a plastic bowl in which I gathered small toys and parts from toys that were yellow. I put in some yellow bricks, the yellow stacking cup, a banana, one of her spoons and a book. This week I have done the same with the colour red.
The best thing is that I’m not buying anything new to do this, and she is exploring how to play with things in different ways. I just leave the basket and the bowl out and tidy them each evening, and she can help herself. I do get out other toys throughout the week too, but these form the backbone for the week. What has been lovely has been that in my quest to find toys for the collections, I’ve been rummaging to the bottom of the box, and found some older toys, and she has smiled in recognition of them!
The next project I’ve got in mind is a kind of nursery rhyme lucky dip. I want to find things to represent different nursery rhymes, and keep them in a bag, then pull them out at random to decide which rhyme to do next. Sometimes I find myself doing the same old rhymes in the same old order. I did think about finger puppets or small toys, but then I saw the idea of story stones on Pinterest and thought that could be an idea. More pondering time needed I think!