Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Active Kids in a Small Space

The Best Toys for Active Kids in Small Spaces - My Buddies and I photo BestToys.jpg
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This has been a very busy winter for my buddies and I.  I have tried out some new ideas that have gone over so well I wish I had tried them years ago. 

We know kids have a natural need to keep active and that can be more challenging in the winter when we are not outdoors as much. Even though we play outside a lot, I would dream of having a room inside my house with a big climbing structure for my buddies. 

I used to think that I needed a large open space for active play. This winter I succeeded in creating an indoor playground in an average sized room.  I have to move our table to a corner but it gives us plenty of play room for the toys you see above. 

On any given day, I will have 5 - 7 children in my care, ranging in age from 1 year to 5 years.  The 5 toys I have chosen as the best work very well for these ages.  Let me tell you a little more about them. 

  1. The Dora Sit 'n Spin by Playskool - This toy is a hand-me-down from my granddaughter.  It has seen many years of use and is a favourite for my buddies of every age.  It takes a little bit of co-ordinating for my buddies to learn to use their hands and arms to pull themselves into a spin but they are delighted to figure it out and can spend hours with this toy.  Rumor has it that it once had sounds but I will deny it and keep the batteries well hidden.
  2. Radio Flyer Jumping Horse - I LOVE this horse.  He was donated to the daycare by past clients.  He was the first active toy that became a permanent fixture.  He takes up more space than the other toys but is so worth it.  I swear my buddies are able to use the horse to calm themselves. This helps to avoid possible tantrums and makes me a happy daycare lady!  My buddies are usually able to climb on and off the horse easily before their second birthday.   
  3. Mini trampoline - This is an adult trampoline and it clearly states that it is not a toy.  Obviously lots of supervision is required.  I like that the bounce is a little limited on this trampoline.  It helps keep the jumping more controlled.  My buddies have shown caution and I am pleased with how careful they are.  We have basic rules and my buddies are good about following them.  I can also stand it up and put it away.  My trampoline has legs that can be removed, I've seen others that have legs that fold under for storage and that would be add convenience in storing.  I can't imagine how many mattresses could be saved with the purchase of one of these.
  4. Radio Flyer Spin N Saucer - These are my number one most favourite indoor active toys.  I don't have enough space for ride on cars but these work well in my room.  They take a little more work to move around that a sit on car and seem to be more fun.  I have two and they are in constant use. My youngest buddies are able to use these.  Many of my buddies' parents have wished they came in adult size (and so do I)!
  5. Bilibos - These are very versatile.  They can be used for spinning, stepping or sitting on or as buckets for carrying toys.  I have two of these as well. They are great for any age and really promote imaginative play as well as active play.

These are the toys that have made my classroom into an active, happy place.  We have less complaining, more sharing and even turn-taking!  I do still have other toys up my sleeve that I keep put away for special activities.  These include scarves, ribbon sticks, dance and exercise videos and music, bean bags, hopscotch, bowling, balls and a parachute.  I also had play tunnels which we really loved but have now worn out. 

If you're struggling to keep your active kids happy, try creating an active play space that satisfies their needs.  If you've already done this and have more ideas for us, I would LOVE to hear them!

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