This week we decided to kick off our international month with a “No Toy Day” in pre-school. The teachers prepared the classroom on Friday and covered all the nursery shelves with fabric. We also prepared all of our natural and found resources in the classroom available for children to use.
When the children arrived at nursery on Monday they were very surprised. “Oh no, what happened to all the toys?” everyone said in chorus. The teachers explained that unfortunately the toys are gone. This provoked a variety of questions, showing the children’s understanding: “Did someone come and take them? We need to call the police?”, “Oh no, did you have to sell them because we have no money?”. We then discussed how people in other cultures live and that their children play with items that they have found inside the house or outside in the forest.
The children also helped to collect additional resources.
The children were intrigued by this information and asked lots more questions. Overall it was quickly decided that they would make things for the children that don’t have many things in their home. So within a few minutes the children got busy making blankets. They used scissors to cut holes into the fabric and used sticks to weave and make the blankets sturdy.
Writing with Sticks
Then children moved onto using the sticks to lay out the first letter of their name and any other letters they like. Overall they were extremely engaged helping each other out and sounding out the letters.
We were surprised at the ideas children came up with in using these materials and agreed altogether that we would keep the toys away for the rest of the week.
Many toys are very limited in the amount of things children can do with them. They are usually designed for one purpose and once the child has explored that purpose they get bored with it. So we tend to accumulate more and more toys and at the end of the day, the children would rather play with the cardboard box the toy came in, than the actual toy.
You could have a clear out at home. Clear out your child’s room or play area, removing toys that you think are no longer age appropriate or those that your child no longer plays with. For now, put them in a bag in the basement or shed. Only keep out the toys that are challenging and offer a chance for creative play. Teach your child that one s/he takes one toy out, another one goes on the shelf/in the box. this will help them to focus on what they are doing. Too many toys cause stress and confusion to children and makes tidy up time a stressful time for everyone.
Links to the EYFS (curriculum)
16-26 months: Mathematics: Beginning to organise and categorise objects (eg. putting all teddy bears in one box)
22-36 months: Personal, Social, Emotional Development: Shows understanding and co-operates with some boundaries and routines
30-50 months: Understanding of the World: Can talk about some things they have observed such as plants, animals, natural and found objects.