Saturday, 15 May 2010

What to Buy?

I notice on the childminding forum that I go on that there are often questions about what resources should be bought when child minders are setting up for the first time.  There are usually a range of responses but often they focus on large scale and very commercial items.  Last week Nursery World magazine had a very sensible supplement with it that suggested what was needed for under threes.  I have summarised the main points here for anyone that is interested, and added a few comments of my own here and there! First off some quotes from the article:
"It is easy to get seduced by glossy catalogues offering colourful must-haves that actually have limited learning potential"

"Look for versatility, durability and longevity.  Wooden toys are more expensive but buying cheaper plastic items can be a false economy"

"It is the role of the adult to plan how children will be able to use the equipment, rather than buying the equipment without a purpose"

"Wood is more sensory than plastic and more durable.  Wooden toys retain children's interest for longer"

"The best resource for children is a knowledgeable and highly attuned adult"

"Invest in some high-quality items and then bulk out your provision with cheaper buys, natural materials and recycled items such as cardboard tubes and cartons"

Suggestions for resources:
  • Cushions and mats for creating cozy spaces and defining different areas. 
  • Rocking Toys.  I am cautious about having these indoors as a childminder due to the potential for squashed fingers underneath. 
  • Stackable toys - good old blocks and bricks.
  • Sorting toys - rather than shape sorters, that can be frustrating for little ones, collect 'heuristic play' materials - a range of natural materials and various small boxes and baskets for the children to discover shape and space for themselves.
  • Small-world play - small wooden cars, trucks and planes and very simple wooden people, as well as a plain wooden, open fronted house that can be many things.
  • Role-play - go easy on the fancy costumes that limit possibilities and stock up om various fabrics, hats shoes and accessories that expand the possibilities of dressing up.
  • Pullable and pushable toys - carts, trolleys, animals, wheelbarrows, pushchairs.
  • Soft toys - not highly rated by the author of the article but I value the gradually expanding collection of very beautiful and life-like British wild animal soft toys that I have.  They are used daily wither for play or cuddles!
  • Dolls - a range of genders and ethnicities and fit for purpose such as hard bodied to go in the doll bath and soft bodied for changing clothes quite easily.
  • Puzzles - simple is better, shape peg puzzles or those demonstrating size from largest to smallest.
  • Mirrors - wall-mounted, infinity cube or hand held.
Dare to be different..... you don't have to have all of the same resources that everyone else has!  I decided a long time ago to declare an embargo on bleeping, buzzing and flashing plastic toys and I have never regretted the decision.  It makes for a more peaceful background where I can hear the children making their own sound effects!  Also consider that less is more - you don't have to have the super-giant sized tub of duplo or 30 figures to play with....... smaller amounts call for children to be imaginative and creative with the resources and you will see fascinating ebb and flow in the way their play develops!

I'd love to hear your comments on this article and how you decide what resources to invest in!

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