by Rachel Wilsey
from Bread and Roses
Some of the biggest hits in my house have been toys that I put together from stuff we had around the house. The two below are easy to make and promote eye-hand coordination as well as concentration.
Domino Box—a Take on the Coin Box
The domino box is our take on the traditional Montessori coin box. We had asked for, but did not receive a coin box for my son’s first birthday. We were going to buy it ourselves but then I realized I could make a similar toy with some tupperware and dominoes that we had on hand.
Creation tips: I cut a slot in the lid of the tupperware using a small serrated kitchen knife. This left the hole a bit sharp, which I hadn’t expected, so I hot glued fabric around the slot to make sure no small fingers got scratched. This also provided a nice visual target for the domino slot. However adding the fabric made the fit of the dominoes a bit tight and I had to go back and widen the slot a few times. So if you want to plan to do it with the fabric around the slot be sure to begin with a wider slot!
Kids reaction: This was initially a more difficult activity for the children than I intended, as the dominoes only fit through the slot one way (I cut it for them to fit though vertically), whereas a coin being round does not have this problem. Initially this made the learning curve steeper than if we had bought the set, or made our own with round coins. But after a few months they got the hang of it and I think this added element has lead to very intense concentration—He will sit and fill the whole bin with dominoes (and there are 90+ dominoes in there; we had a large set!) and then he’ll ask us for help to open the lid, we’ll dump it out and he’ll start all over again. A year later, at nearly two he still plays with this quite a bit!
Straws and Cups—The most bang for your buck!
Here’s a cheap win for you: divide a pack of Jumbo multi-colored straws in two containers and toddlers from a year to 18 months will can play with them forever! They love taking them out and putting them in, transferring them from container to container. Really you can put the straws in any tall cup, we found some tins at goodwill that are pretty similar to these tins.
Kids Reaction: This was a great coordination and concentration activity until about 18 months, at which time they lost interest. We put them away for a while, and recently as we have started introducing colors we are using the straws again for color sorting. I never thought when I pulled the straws out of the cupboard out that we’d get so much mileage out of a $5 pack of plastic straws!
About Rachel Wilsey
Rachel Wilsey blogs about her adventures in Natural Parenting, Social Justice, and Living the Sweet Life at Breadandrosesparenting.com. She’s very interested in the Montessori philosophy, learning bit by bit as her son grows. Now that he’s almost two-year’s old she’s seen what a difference a Montessori home environment and activities have made in his development and she’s very excited for him to be starting a half-day Montessori program this summer!
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