Stimulating your child’s intellect free of charge

Here are five top ideas for children’s educational toys, home-made from common household items. These will help parents whose children always ask, “What can we do now?”

1. Artwork ideas (three to five years)

  • Cut vegetables and or sponges into interesting shapes and dip them into paint to make your own prints.
  • Use old yoghurt cups as paint containers.
  • Use old toothbrushes to create an interesting spray-paint effect. Dip the toothbrush into some poster paint, and holding it over a sheet of paper, run your thumb across the bristles. Build up a supply of scrap paper by opening out used envelopes, collecting inserts from new shirts, re-purposing used wrapping paper and other packaging.

2. Obstacle course (two to four years)

  • Cut a hole in the bottom of an old bucket. Turn the bucket upside down and practice throwing a ball through the hole.
  • Cardboard boxes can be used as tunnels, flower pots as stepping stones, and old pillowcases stuffed with newspaper as punchbags.
  • An old tyre is excellent for swinging in or jumping on or creeping through.

3. Puppets (two to four years)

  • A simple hand puppet can be made from an old sock, using buttons for eyes and felt for the mouth.
  • Make a puppet by drawing a face on a paper bag, make holes for your fingers to go through, then twist the corners for ears, and hold it in place on your hand with an elastic band.

4. Gardening (three to six years)

Let your child plant vegetables, herbs, strawberries, and so on in pots, under your supervision. He should water these regularly and harvest the produce as it ripens.

5. Home-made puzzle (two to four years)

Small children love puzzles, and here’s a very easy and cheap way of making your own to entertain and stimulate a child on a cold, rainy day, or when he’s ill. Paste an old card or magazine picture onto a stiff piece of cardboard. Cut this into different sizes and shapes, and then build the puzzle with your child. Once he’s a bit older, he can be helped to make his own puzzles.

Don’t forget the classics…

  • Whether read or sung, nursery rhymes speak to a child’s spirit and love of stories and music. This imbues them with a sense of security, on which much happiness rests. From the beginning, while changing or bathing your baby, rediscover these nursery rhymes and teach them to your child. As they grow, they’ll delight in recognising them and imitating the words and sounds. Apart from the rhythmic tales of yore, page through children’s books from their earliest years, reading aloud to your child. Even if they don’t understand the story, the inflections of your voice will give them great pleasure, and they will one day easily unlock the enjoyment of reading.
  • Certain types of music release relaxing responses in our minds and bodies, and do a great deal to make us feel better about ourselves and about life. It’s no different for our babies, and parents would do well to have a house filled with happy melodies.

Article by: Sister Lillian 

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