Some of the best toys for kids have been around for a long time. Blocks, balls, and books are simple, durable, and fun and can help children build skills. They can also be enjoyed by kids of all ages. These should be staples in every child care program.
Blocks are good toys, because children of different ages can use them in different ways. Infants like to carry them around and dump them into and out of containers. Toddlers like to build towers. As children get older they like to build more elaborate structures with blocks. Children use physical skills as they lift and move blocks to build things. Math skills are used as children count, match, sort, add, subtract, and notice the weight and length of blocks. Thinking and problem-solving skills are used in making a tower or other structure. A child can learn how to work with other children in the program and share ideas when building with blocks.
Like blocks, balls are fun for children of all ages! Infants love to roll them. Toddlers enjoy rolling a ball back and forth to someone. This teaches them how to take turns – something toddlers need to learn because it leads to sharing. As children get older, they can learn how to throw and catch a ball. Children enjoy games with balls. Some children develop a love of sports and may play ball of one kind or another all their lives.
Children learn so much from books. Infants and toddlers like to look at picture books and to listen to short stories. Board books and cloth books are best for them to handle. Preschoolers enjoy stories and learning about new things. There are books about science and nature. There are books about magic and music. There are fairy tale and folk tale books. There are books about people or events, and others are fiction. Child care settings should have a variety of books available for children and a special reading time every day. Once children learn to read, child care providers can encourage children to take turns reading to one another. Consider taking children on a field trip to the library. Make books and reading times important for the children in your care.
To learn more about books, blocks, and balls, or to find tips for choosing learning materials for your child care program, check out the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles: