"You have enough toys to choke an elephant with"
As a homeschool mom, my house is multifunctional. It has to function as a classroom. Have you ever been in a classroom closet or seen their shelves? As a former public school music teacher, I know that a classroom is full of stuff. I am always trying to get rid of stuff to make more room. (for more stuff, of course) I also try (emphasis on try) to keep all of the toys organized and put away when we are not playing with them, but more on that later. So, I try to follow three rules when deciding what to buy and what to keep: 1. Is it educational? 2. Is it multifunctional? 3. Will it last a long time? (this does not include consumable items like playdough.) Here's my list of some of my favorite toys to keep and buy.
1. Puppets - Pretty much any story can be reenacted with puppets. They encourage imaginative play, speech, and memory.
2. Blocks (of all kinds) - wooden, legos, large cardboard ones, trio, pattern... - Blocks help with fine motor skills, imagination, and are just plain fun to knock down. I always have to get my boys started with these, but then I have to make them stop playing. We like to combine blocks with another toy, like animals, or cars. Blocks can become houses, tracks, animal pens,
3. Trains and Cars - and tracks, and train tables, and rugs with roads on them and masking tape on the floor, oh my!
4. Tents and tunnels - In our house, these items get played with every single day. I find them on the beds, in the ball pit filled with play food, in the book nook filled with books. They do not encourage a clean house, but they do encourage team work, imagination, and problem solving. And, then I encourage cleaning up!
5. Plastic animals and other things (this is where most of our McDonald's toys go)
6. Pegs with boards and Gears
8. Dress up clothes -Every single time we have a playdate, you can bet that the kids will come out dressed as something. Sometimes, it takes our friends to remind us how much we like to play with them. This is another messy activity, because we can't seem to play with them without dumping out all of the boxes and wearing them throughout the house.
9. Doll houses - Okay, I have two boys and my new little girl, so my definition of "doll houses" is quite wide. We play with a big toy farm that has like a thousand little pieces that go with it, including tractors and combines and we use an old fisher price house and farm that I had when I was little. With the addition of a little girl, we have added a new fisher price my first doll house as well. The point is that they are using their imagination. I sometimes start them off with a story and they go from there, but often times, they are the ones that get the story going. In other instances, with boys especially, the play is about sorting or building or stacking. My middle child loves finding all of the little flowers that go with our farm and putting them into containers. There's just something about things that are that small that hold their fascination.
10. Board games