One common question that pops up in Family Day Care forums and discussions is “What is your number one best buy or favourite piece of equipment or toy?”. I’m always curious to see what other educators have up their sleeve and I’ve uncovered a number of gems through such discussions.
I don’t consider my own set up highly sophisticated compared to others, but I aim to be intentional in the way I set up my environments and include lots of open ended materials that can be used in many ways or can be repurposed into different set ups and play invitations.
Today I’d like to share one particular set of equipment which I consider to be one of the most versatile in my set ups and has been worth every cent invested and more.
Jumbo size building blocks
I bought them five years ago at Big W in a set of 78-80 pieces for under a hundred dollars or thereabouts. They were such a big hit I went back to get another set but they were all sold out.
They’ve become an integral part of my set up and function beyond just a set of construction blocks for the children to play with.
They’ve been converted into an innumerable number of things, including a fort, cubby house, play shop, café counter, a train, car, truck, airplane, rocket ship, letter box, sofa, puppet theatre, bathtub, swimming pool and even a hair salon.
It’s also been a useful prop for setting up various experiences such as sensory or activity trays, a buddy seat for our reading corner, for story time activities (like a wall for Humpty Dumpty), and our current favourite—a mini ball pit.
The best kinds of toys and play equipment are ones that are open ended, allow for multiple uses, and support exploration and play-based learning. And I love these giant blocks because changing them around can completely transform the dynamics of the entire play area and inspire all sorts of new ideas for play.
Although I’ve not been able to get hold of a similar set at the shops here, I’ve found several alternative options online if you are interested in getting a similar set to add to your children’s play area:
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