They’re called non-toy toys, un-toys or just simple items you have around the house. As my Nana says, “little children are often happiest playing with household items” and the added bonus of these “toys” is that they’re recycled everyday items so they’re basically free. Wooden spoons, pots, pans, old purses and wallets fall into this category and so do these four great non-toy toys.
1. Catalogs. When going through the mail, I pick out free catalogs with images that might interest my daughter, tell her she has mail and pass the catalogs to her. My daughter can spend a good 15 to 20 minutes playing with her pile of catalogs featuring clothing, furniture and other items. She flips through them, throws them on the floor, picks them up, tears them up and points at various images in them (dogs, babies and fancy dresses included) that we then discuss.
2. Empty plastic water bottles. I know water bottles may contain chemicals that some parents may not want around their children, but I’ve found that there’s no toy that can compete with an empty water bottle (with the cap, a choking hazard, off) for my daughter’s attention. And there’s nothing else that will amuse my daughter as well on a five-hour flight or in the car (we keep an empty water bottle next to her car seat). In fact, “ba” for bottle was one of her first meaningful babbles.
3. Small boxes. My daughter loves opening and closing small cardboard boxes (from the iPhone box to an empty stationery box) and filling them up with her real toys and dumping the toys out. (WhattoExpect.com offers some great ideas for games to encourage with boxes and other non-toy toys).
4. Socks. Finally, my daughter loves playing with her socks (maybe because they’re mostly Jazzy Toes). When we take the socks off and pass them to her, she amuses herself throwing both socks behind her and twirling around in circles to find them.
What are your child’s favorite non-toy toys?