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So these are my all time favorite young child manipulatives, tools or toys. Some of these are a bit strange but they have made my at home mom life, or preschool teacher life a lot easier and happier.
THIS MOTHER’S FAVORITES:
A sensory table
See my other post for help in choosing a sensory table that best fits your family.
I use this item constantly! I love how versatile it is. You can use it for a sensory experience, or to contain a messy play or art. I also love how it gets children on their feet. Children learn well when they are active and moving. My children have loved the sensory table from the time they could pull up and stand to use one. Its one of my favorites! Many of my activities involve this item.
Jumbo Eye Droppers click here for link in amazon
This item I constantly got requests for during preschool. They are obviously great for any water play. We used them in transferring liquid, especially mixing different colors. They are fun for adding to experiments or working on hitting a target. One of our favorite uses was to suck up hot water and shoot it onto ice eggs. The best part is this item helps strengthen small motor muscles that are essential for writing. My almost 2 year old loves these. We are still working on keeping the end in the water to fill it up, but she defiantly has the squeezing part down. My preschoolers, 3 to 5, had no problem mastering the skill and were always requesting this toy.
Handy Scoopers click here
This is another favorite of the children. I love this toy because it can be used in many different ways. Obviously they work in most sensory play, for scooping rice or grabbing an animal out of water. We also use this tool a lot to transfer small items. Separating a colored stone out of a group to place with the right color was a fun activity. It takes some concentration to pick up the item your after with the handy scoopers. The technique used makes it is perfect practice for scissors. This item is more for the preschool age. My 3 year olds spent the first few times with this item using both hands. After playing with the scoopers for some time they would transition to one hand. My almost 2 year old likes them, because big sister plays with them, but she hasn’t mastered the skill yet.
Gator Grabbers click here
This item is a teacher favorite. I love the grip that it requires of our little’s. It is perfect for helping children learn how to hold a pencil. These can be used in sensory play to pick up specific items. They are also fun to use outdoors when investigating plants or bugs. I use them often at the writing center. If we are working with pompoms and counting or organizing them I would add the tweezers to the activity. This is another item that is perfect for 3 to 5 year olds. My almost 2 year old loves the way they look and using them as a scary crocodile, but she still has a couple months of practicing before she will master the use of them.
Helping hands fine motor tools set click here
This is a small set that contains the previous favorites. If you were looking for a fun gift or just wanting to stock your sensory table with some goodies I would highly recommend this set. And a good price too! All the items are very sturdy and should last a long time.
Safari TOOB animals click here
This is an amazing addition to extend play or make it imaginative. I am not specifically recommending this TOOB of cute animals but I would recommend having a stash of small, sweet additions. I have a TOOB of water animals, farm animals, jungle animals and dinosaurs. You could very easily collect small animals in another way, dollar store, or your childs personal favorites. We have a small horse set from Melissa and Doug that my children loved in their blocks. Even Lalaloopsy has made an appearance in our play. Simply having a collection of small friends to add to block or play dough can help make the play last much longer and become imaginative.
Now how do you make all these little animals work for you and your little?
I’ll be posting on that soon!
Animal counters click here
This is another awesome addition to almost any type of play. These little animal counters can be used in the same way the TOOB animals can be used. Add them to any play to extend or create a story out of the play. The bonus with these little cuties is they can also be used for counting, patterns, classification, color sort and more. They sell so many different types you are sure to find one your child would love. I have a bear, bug, farm and safari set. I think the bugs might be my children’s favorites. Especially when paired with the gator grabbers.
Cookie sheets click here
Cookie sheets? Yes cookie sheets will make your life so much easier! I have friends that use ideas trays. Even a rectangular platter would work. I just know I can buy cookie sheets for cheep and the do the job I need them to do! Picture yourself trying to cook dinner. Your little’s are begging for a show but you feel guilty because you already let them watch 2 different Lion Gaurds. You know they would be so happy with some play dough but you cant handle the mess right before dinner. Enter the cookie sheet! I love placing a cookie sheet on the table and dump out some play dough and toothpicks and let them go at it. I love the cookie sheets because it helps contain the mess. A cookie sheet can be used to help keep other things contained, such as beads or pompoms. This can help children keep everything in arms reach. You can use the cookies sheets in art projects, like painting. Or really messy activities like shaving cream or experimentations. When your done rinse them in the sink or throw them in the dishwasher!
My other favorite thing about the cookie sheets is they are magnetic!
Individual dry erase boards click here
This item surprised me by making my favorites list. I never used whiteboards much in my early teacher experiences but this last year in my own preschool they were some of my student’s favorite items and mine. It is fun that a child can have their very own on their lap. We use our whiteboards to practice writing or drawing. We also use them for little games. One of my favorite things about the white boards is that we can use them anywhere. We have taken them on road trips, to church, even on the floor in the living room. I love that they can be taken wherever you need them.
Magnetic blocks click here
These are so cool! They are a favorite of all age groups from 1 to 100! I love playing with them. Oh and my kids do too! These are so fun because they have so many options. I have seen them be used to make gates for horses, or a path. Some of my boys made hotels as tall as they could for our bug counters. My daughter has discovered how to make diamonds and cubes out of these tiles. I know this item isn’t really like my others favorites…but they are so great I couldn’t not add them to the list!