Finding materials that become favorite activities for children has been one of the more delightful experiences for me as both a teacher and a parent. Faced with the astounding number of manufactured choices available today, putting together those that hold a child’s attention over time and require minimal expense, can be quite satisfying. Here are a few ideas, found to be most popular for children aged two through five, in our preschool environment, you might wish to try. Two broad categories to keep in mind are designing activities that are scaled down versions of those done by adults and anything involving containers.

The number one favorite has been the “office tray”. Purchase a sectioned tray and fill it with pre-cut paper, crayons, colored pencils or markers, small envelopes, a paper punch, stickers and maybe scissors (for children old enough to do cutting). Vary the contents on a continuing basis.

Collect inexpensive doll furniture or anything “paintable” and have a painting session (over newspaper) with water based paints. You might keep an on-going collection box in the house for these kinds of objects.

I am always on the lookout for new and different small houses or interesting boxes. A large empty sliding matchbox decorated with colored tape becomes a fairly durable toy. Fill these “houses” with rotating collections of themed play figures, or cutouts from old books or packaged toy boxes. Don’t just throw out those boxes after birthday parties, as pictures of the toys they own, when cut out, sometimes are more enjoyable than the actual toys.

So enjoy these ideas and I’m easy to find at the Community Center if you want to report your successes and or new ideas you have!