I thought it would be fun to share here some of the ideas we came up with.
I used a box for the children to pound golf tees into. They as well enjoyed just pushing the golf tees into the box, and alternately hammering on the box, without the tees. I knew this would be popular, as we had pounded golf tees into a pumpkin at Halloween. One of the children, who has trouble settling to things, and has little English, loved this activity, and she was the best and most accurate at pounding the tees.
We had a surplus of small, individually sized playdough containers from Halloween, which the children loved stacking, and as well dumping. I thought it might be fun to make a small sorting box. I just cut holes into the top of this box, which would allow the kids to fit them in, and as well I cut a hole into the lid of the coffee can that the containers could just be dropped into.
One infant, loved this activity, and stayed with this for up to 40 minutes at a time, quietly placing the playdough containers in the box, and taking them out.
The coffee can served double duty, as the children had painted them first. Coffee cans are always fun, and when I first brought them into the room, the children immediately started to use them as drums, hitting them with wooden spoons. I like these particular cans because they have a rounded lip on the inside so there is no sharp edge.
The cans were also popular for filling and dumping - a big interest for toddler aged children.
Here is a diaper box, which the children and I decorated with bubble wrap. It was used to throw balls into; to climb in; to put stuffed toys in; and here a child has put her doll to bed (you may notice the dolls dress at the bottom) - she is covering the box with a receiving blanket.
Bubble wrap is also a fun material for these children to explore. We taped some onto the floor and the children walked on it with their bare feet, and rolled on it, as well as driving cars on it.
I really think that using boxes and other recycled materials allows so much more creative possibilities than some toys, and allows the children to use their imaginations. Daycare workers have traditionally relied on recycled materials, partly out of necessity due to shoestring budgets, and partly because of the fun of making "something from nothing".
I like this use for a milk carton made by one of my co-workers. It was fun for filling and dumping as well as to hold the cars, in her recycle center.
It has taken me a period of adjustment to appreciate the interests of toddlers. I have primarily worked with a slightly older group of children. But I am now more patient with what may look to be clutter, and "mess", to see that this is what toddlers need to do. Theoretically I knew that their play was more open-ended, but now I am comfortable with it.
I was searching for some favourite Christmas music yesterday, and remembered a cassette I'd always enjoyed by Rita McNeil. Paul seemed to know I would enjoy this. He gave it to me for Christmas one year. She is a Canadian singer, from Cape Breton, and is enormously popular as an entertainer. Her voice is strong, and joyful, and I love this song, "Now the Bells Ring". She may have retired somewhat, I think, as I haven't heard her music lately. She is a true star, and a Canadian gem.
Well, I would like to quickly edit here, I did more research, and Rita, is not retired, and has a new cd, "Saving Grace", out this year, as well as performing at a Christmas concert series this season.
Wishing you a good week ahead!