At Twinkle Kids, the mantra is always to keep it simple. Children don't really need much more than a few select items and their imaginations. Most likely, you have already experienced your child really enjoying something that wasn't really a toy at all. In fact, they may repeatedly choose this object over their toys!
At a Twinkle Kids session, at least 50% of the objects and materials used are not toys. They are household objects that all kids would find in their homes such as bowls, spoons, whisks, buckets, ladles, etc. I also incorporate a LOT of nature like sticks, rocks, earth and foliage. There is intention behind this, children are naturally drawn to these objects much more than flashy, noisy toys. Toys are usually used to enhance the play area, they aren't the focus point.
The reason why babies and children enjoy objects that are not traditionally toys is simple. They are constantly observing us and what we are using and want to be involved. Babies and children are not big fans of separated adults and kids' space or adult-only items - that's why they enjoy your car keys so much! They want to be close to us, to learn from us, and to use the items we use daily. They thrive off it, and the fact that they are not traditionally toys, they need to work harder to use their imaginations and creativity to think about how to use it. In this way, they can discover so many different ways to play with the same item! It's fascinating to watch!
This is what's called an open-ended item. It means that there is not just one way to use it, but several different, wonderful ways that make sense to the person using it. Some toys can be "fixed" - they are limited in how they can be used such as battery-operated. But open-ended toys are limitless in the opportunities they provide for children to experiment with and learn from.
If you don't want to add any more toys into your play space but also want to inject something new and interesting, here are my Top 6 Non-Toy Toys that can be used for any age from babies to older children. You will likely already have them around your house!
Before you read on, I am deliberately NOT providing any suggestions on how to use them or how your child might engage with each item. Be open-minded and allow children to incorporate other toys or items if they wish to expand their play and imagination. Each experience will be unique to each individual and there is no right or wrong, so get curious, observe and have fun watching them play!
We all remember playing with a box! Save your next one from delivery and leave it out for your child to discover. The possibilities are endless!
Pots and pans and spoons
Scarves and blankets
Paper and pencils (use crayons for younger babies and toddlers)
Containers with lids
I would love to hear what ways they were played with! Let me know in the comments :)