Tag Archive Toys


Helping Little Ones Learn Creatively With Toys, Games, & Puzzles

Today’s post is part of day 3 of the 5 Days of Teaching Creatively Blog Hop hosted by The Schoolhouse Review Crew. Be sure to check out the other posts by 80+ bloggers who are also sharing ideas on teaching creatively! You can find posts from day 1 (Delight Directed Teaching) and day 2 (Schooling In The Kitchen.) here.



Whether or not you homeschool, if you have kids, you have toys. If you have toys, your kids are learning through play in one sense or another. By encouraging a child’s imagination through pretend play, toys, games, and puzzles you are creatively teaching them concepts from all over the learning spectrum.

Many of these items can be used to teach a specific lesson, or along side a curriculum, as a supplement. My 3 homeschooled children are all still really young, so there is rarely a day that we do not include a toy, game, or puzzle. Here are some items we use and ways that we implement these items in our lessons.

Can you say "Angie needs a new camera?" Sorry for all the blurry photos. :(

Can you say “Angie needs a new camera?” Sorry for all the blurry photos. 🙁

Play-doh: Oh, the joy of Play-Doh, homemade dough, and clay. The list of ways to use it goes on and on. For Science we  use it to mold an animal, tree, or parts of anatomy. For reading and learning the alphabet we roll the dough into letters to help the child learn how to form the letter. Most recently, we used it for math to make “donuts” to learn that 12 makes a dozen. Sure, it’s potentially messy and you have to be sure it doesn’t get in the carpet. I can’t recommend it enough though.

Hot Wheels, Trains, Action Figures, etc: It used to be a battle for me to be able to sit down with my children and not have them beg to have a favorite toy by their side. I finally gave in and made a rule that as long as it is not distracting them, they can have it by them. Not playing with it mind you, but next to them. There are times, however, that this comes in handy. Sometimes I need one of the kids to show me that they know a certain color. I will lay out some of these favorite items and have them tell me what color each one is, or ask them to find an item of a certain color. We also use these as counters for math. Tommy is definitely more interested in counting something if it is of interest to him. Also, like play-doh, toys like Hot Wheels and trains can be lined up to form shapes and letters.

Here is where I inform you that in our home, it's Johnny Ben's world. We all just live in it. And that's okay... Except that in Johnny Ben's world, pants are optional. We are working on that...

Here is where I inform you that in our home, it’s Johnny Ben’s world. We all just live in it. And that’s okay… Except that in Johnny Ben’s world, pants are optional. We are working on that…

Legos & Every Other Kind Of Building Block (There are just way too many different variations to list them all. 😉 ): Once again we have the counters, colors, etc. But the possibilities here are endless. Lego has even launched a whole new company based on Lego Education. K’nex has products for education also. Even a DNA replica set! We’ve used many different types of blocks to explain birds, plants, geography, and more. With our youngest son, Johnny Ben, who is autistic, we have used many textile blocks and gears to help him with sensory exploration. Just watch out and make sure you don’t step on any of these items in the middle of the night. OUCH!

Little People: Who doesn’t love Little People? We’ve used Noah’s Ark to teach the story of Noah. The Farm set to teach about Farm animals. I’m sure you know where I’m going with this, ha ha. There are so many sets to use for various teaching supplements. Sometimes we don’t even use them as intended. I’ll have Tommy line up some of the animals or people and tell me the difference in each one, or point to different body parts such as the knees or ear. Oh, did I mention we love Little People?

Puzzles: There are so many themed puzzles out there. But one fun option is to make your own if you have the resources. This can be done with a printer and craft foam. Sometimes I’ll print out a picture of something we are learning, glue it to a sheet of foam, and cut it out for the kids to put back together. My children have grasped so many concepts with this hands-on method. Now, if your husband is like mine and wants to permanently live in his woodshop, then you can have him make you some puzzles… But really, if you just walk down the Dollar Spot at Target or the toy & learning aisle at the dollar store, then you’ll likely find plenty of options for what you are teaching for a lower price.

Your eyes are not deceiving you, that is a vintage Hot Wheel City!

Your eyes are not deceiving you, that is a vintage Hot Wheel City!

Games: We often play games like Sequence, Connect 4, Monopoly Jr., Hi-Ho Cherry Oh!, Scrambled States of America, Richard Scary’s Busy Town, Uno, Bible card games, and many others instead of doing an actual lesson. When we do this, I point out many different educational aspects that are happening as we play. During play and after we discuss what we learned. Being a game loving family (Minus my husband. We’ve given up on having him play with us…) so we all love learning this way.

Basically, the point I’m trying to get across is that if your child has a toy, it can be a resource for learning. To be honest, I believe that young children SHOULD involve play with everything. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a time to sit down for direct teaching, but there is no reason it can’t be fun. I do believe that there should be a lot of constructive play in addition to free play. Sparking a child’s imagination makes them curious, and when they are curious, they want to learn.

What are some ways that you use toys, games, and puzzles to help your children learn?



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Sticky Hands: Toys And Trials Everywhere!!!

This is the "clean" part of the room. Seriously. And yes, my couches are out dated and the lamp shade is crooked. Now you see how human I truly am! Oh, and I took this photo while telling my youngest son to stop climbing on the tv stand and feeding my youngest daughter her bottle. Human? DEFINITELY!

My house is a disaster today. I mean seriously. A complete disaster. It looks as though a tornado touched down and only knocked around the toy bins. I considered making the boys pick all of the toys up, but then I decided to let them have a fun day with all their toys. We’ll clean them up, one by one, at bed time and start “clean” tomorrow.

Ever stand in the middle of a room covered in toys? So not fun. Even worse? Walking through it. Add carrying an infant through it and it becomes down right frustrating!

As I sat here looking around my living and conjoined dining room thinking of how each toy will be picked up at the end of the day and all will be okay, it hit me. This is how I should approach life.

What do I mean? Well, have you ever been completely overwhelmed? One thing after another piling up around you. You feel like you’re drowning. You have no idea how to dig out. So you try to manage it all at once, only bringing yourself down deeper.

What if I handle each situation one by one? Instead of worrying about tackling it all at once I’ll pick up one situation, wipe it off and handle it with prayer, and put it away by giving it to God! Then, I can move on to the next, and the one after that… Seems to work for my kids, why can’t it work for me?

Next time I’m standing in the midst of trials all around me, I’m going to try my kids approach. Besides, everything will be less likely to be swept under the rug only to show up again later this way. 😉



Get Over It!

Johnny Ben, last Summer, wondering why we don't do something when clearly his brother is bugging him.

Having one child makes you a parent; having two you are a referee.
-David Frost

It’s happened to all of us. Some more than others. You get through one trial only to discover you are in another. And then there are the times that everything is going great, but small things keep happening, making it clear that the devil is determined to bring you down or get in your way.

This has been happening to me lately. A lot… While I’m typing this even.

As moms we all have times like this. Days when things just don’t go right. Months where things fall apart. Years that just won’t go according to plan. Kids fight. Bills are paid late. Babies cry. Homes are messy. Health takes a turn. I could go on and on.

Being that we are human, it is only natural for us to wonder WHY God is allowing this. Especially if we are in the midst of doing something he has led us to do. We’re not angry with him, just wondering. Sure, we all know that he’ll never give us more than we can handle. But why can’t he just stop others from being hurtful & the enemy from pestering or down right attacking us? And then we are so flustered that we dwell on what was done instead of moving on when it is over.

"Why are they so angry, Ron?" "I don't know, George, they won! The other team isn't even mad!" "Hmm, good point. Let's go get some cheesecake..."

Tonight I let my 3 year old and 2 year old (Well, he’ll be 2 tomorrow, you get the point.) get out a toy they hadn’t played with in awhile. (I rotate toys through a cycle in our home so that nothing is taken for granted and all find good use. Okay, and so I’m not constantly tripping on them.) Tommy, the 3 year old, knew that the toy actually belonged to Johnny Ben, my younger boy. He had played with the toy first, but then it was Johnny Ben’s turn. Naturally, this turned into a battle. I had to keep on both of them, but clearly Tommy was not going to stop tormenting Johnny Ben. Finally, Tommy moved on to something else, but Johnny Ben was still upset and instead of playing with his toy he just sat and moped.

This is how it is for us sometimes in the spirit realm. We may be constantly tormented and attacked, but God is always right there playing the referee and sometimes even the defender. He fights off satan and kicks him to the curb. Other times, he settles another person who is causing us grief and sets them to the side, loving them just as much as He loves us. When the turmoil has finally calmed, we sit there crying and grieving when in actuality we should be moving along feeling as happy as can be.

We’re all human and being women we are very emotional, but let’s all try to do our best and give God praise at the end of a battle, thanking Him that it is over and not complaining that it happened. Think about all that you’re missing out on by not moving on and enjoying the life the Lord has given you! Don’t stress, be blessed!