Skip to main content

Confessions of a Tot School Mom: Learning Toys

In today's addition of Nicole is a crazy obsessive borderline tot school hoarder, I'm sharing what I call "learning toys." And I'm using the word "learning" loosely here. Almost none of these toys teach a skill in particular on their own, but they are all solely used for learning. Therefore, these are things that Henry would never be allowed to play with on his own. Many are dollar store finds and too small for him to play with otherwise. 

And, to be clear, these aren't the only toys we ever use at tot school -- far from it -- but these toys are ONLY used at tot school.


As you can see, some of these could also be called "little crappy playthings that are used for activities." Others are legitimately nice toys -- wooden matching game, foam letters. Some are nice quality, but others aren't. Either way, many serve an important purpose from time to time in sensory bins or as a manipulative on a tray. 



Others have specifically been made to teach a skill -- mostly matching games. 


As far as organization goes, I organize these all with baggies. Then throw them in a bin. If I need a specific color or type of toy, I can quickly search the bin to see if I have it. The matching toys are stored together, away from the little things. I pull these out when they fit a particular theme, or when I think Henry would appreciate some matching work. 

Some tips for picking out these types of things: 


1. Have a theme in mind -- especially for the junky little stuff. There is so much of this out there, only buy it if you really need it. 

2. Don't be afraid of things that are too small for kids to use on their own. Its fine to have toys that are just used at tot school.

3. Be creative -- things don't have to be used for their intended purpose. Example - yes, my kid is playing with wooden animal shaped napkin rings, and that's great! 


signature

Comments

I have a similar stash - god love target dollar bins and the dollar store for these things!!!

I just found a new company I am probably going to frequent often for related stuff and thought I'd share - Learning Resources. I am IN LOVE with their super learning pie and think I'm going to get it for Christmas. Love 'toys' that are open ended and not just mind-numbing! http://www.amazon.com/Learning-Resources-Super-Sorting-Pie/dp/B004DJ51WQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379102033&sr=8-1&keywords=super+pie+learning
I have looked around Learning Resources, too, and would have to second Jen on the learning pie - it's been on my wishlist for quite some time! I am right there with you - sometimes, when I look at what I have and try to figure out how to re-organize, I think maybe I have gone overboard. But everything always ends up having it's use, and the things I come up with are many times used in a way that was un-intended at the start! :)
Anonymous said…
Great toy ideas! I found your blog when searching for wooden animal napkin rings to purchase. Yours are exactly what I am looking for. Can you tell me where you got them? Thank you!

Popular Posts

The Ultimate Montessori Toy List -- Birth to Five -- UPDATED 2020

When you are interested in Montessori, it can be difficult to know exactly what types of products you should get for your home. Or which types of "Montessori" materials are really worth the price. There are no rules about types of products can use the name Montessori which can add to the confusion. Not to mention, every toy manufacturer slaps the word "educational" on the package for good measure! 2021 UPDATE: Please be patient with links this year, with supply chain issues things are selling out faster and restocking slower. I anticipate some of the specialty toys will not restock once they are gone. So, with this post, I'm going to try to help with this confusion! Here's a list of Montessori-friendly toys and materials for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.  First, let's clarify that there is no such thing as a "Montessori toy." Montessori never created toys, but only works for classroom settings. While there are many work

Montessori Toddler: Favorite Toys and Activities 18 to 20 months

I've been putting off this post for a little while because I felt a little disappointed that I didn't have more to share. See, Teddy just isn't that into materials, especially those on the shelf. He tends to return to a couple of favorites over and over again and ignore all other attempts at shelf work. But, really that's my own adult feelings getting in the way of Teddy's own interests, and developmental path.  It's also me subconsciously valuing fine motor skills and stillness as more important than gross motor play and movement. I working hard not to do that, and want to normalize that all toddlers are different. All children have different interests and that concentration doesn't have to mean sitting still for long stretches of time.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you. With all that said, here are some of Teddy's favorites over the last couple of months. Favorite Montessori Toys 18 to 20 Months I'm listing the toys that have be

Our Kids' Montessori Gift Lists 2020

With the holiday season upon us we've been making lists and gathering gifts for the Kavanaugh children. It's always a fun process of observing my children, seeing what they would really be interested in and making some decisions based on what I see. This year is different because I'm also making decisions knowing that we are looking at a very long and quiet winter ahead. So that's influencing the amount I will buy and the specific choices I will/have made.  Henry and Nora are also at the point, being into the second plane of development, where they heavily influence the items on the list and what is ultimately purchased. So, you'll see that while Montessori influences what I will purchase and what goes on their list, so does their own preferences and personality.  This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.  Theodore Teddy is 14-months-old right now and as the fourth baby, we have so many toddler things. But, there are a few things I've still found tha