Toys that bridge the gap | Toddling Through the Silicon Valley | Cheryl Bac | Palo Alto Online |

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Toddling Through the Silicon Valley

By Cheryl Bac

E-mail Cheryl Bac

About this blog: I'm a wife, stay-at-home mom, home cook, marathon runner, and PhD. I recently moved to the Silicon Valley after completing my PhD in Social Psychology and becoming a mother one month apart. Before that, I ran seven marathons incl...  (More)

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Toys that bridge the gap

Uploaded: Feb 10, 2018
Our oldest child is going to start kindergarten in the fall and our youngest is learning how to stand up. There's less than 5 years difference between our oldest and youngest kids, but some days it feels like 10.

Unlike our oldest and middle child, there are very few toys are truly interest both a 5 and 1 year old. When I want all of our kids to play together, we stick with the basics- water, balls, sand, blocks, and music.

1. Water: Our youngest loves splashing her hands in our water table while our oldest uses his ocean figurines to make an ocean scene or his Legos to build a dam. And, during our unexpected heatwave, all three kids have enjoyed splashing and swimming in the pool. This warm week makes me very excited to spend time in the water with our kids this summer.

2. Balls: Our home is filled with balls of all types and sizes. Baby enjoys crawling after a rolling ball and watching us bounce one for her.

3. Sand: Parks with sand are a huge draw these days. Unlike woodchips, sand is easy for baby to crawl around on. And no splitters! Sand is great for our older kids to build and dig and baby is always excited to join in by destroying sand structures both large and small.

4. Blocks: At our home, Duplo and Lego are constantly out. Our oldest enjoys completing Lego challenges that I find on Pinterest, our middle child builds her own creations with both Duplo and Lego while our youngest enjoys dumping a bin of Duplo on the floor and picking up various pieces.

5. Music: When all else fails, we can usually turn on Pandora and dance. When I was a kid, I played the flute and piccolo and these days I love playing nursery rhymes and Disney songs for our kids. Our daughter enjoys pressing the keys on the piccolo. Our son enjoys trying to make sounds on my starter flute. And baby loves hearing all of the notes and watching the commotion.

Which toys help your kids bridge a small or large age gap?
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mother of 4, a resident of Palo Verde School,
on Feb 11, 2018 at 8:58 am

One of the most played with toys I can think of have been our stacking cups. Obviously the baby/toddler enjoys playing with these, but I have discovered how the older ones like to play with them in new ways when supposedly helping the younger ones to knock them over when stacked. Trying to balance them when one is turned upside down, playing hide the duplo brick under one and guessing which one, filling one with water or sand and seeing how many of the smaller ones gets filled by the larger one, etc. They have also been used as sand toys to make miniature sand pies stacked on top of each other, etc. I have even had to scrub one to use as a cookie cutter for small cookies!

Apart from that, most of our toys don't seem to get played as much by all, except perhaps balls. I am always amazed at the ingenuity of the kids though as everyday objects get used as playthings. The inside tubes of toilet paper are always popular as are the tubes inside wrapping paper. Small boxes of things like builloin are taped and used as storage or building blocks. Tupperware bowls and wooden spoons make great drum sets with wooden spoons as well as stacking toys (sometimes very high if different styles and shapes are used).

Our older two children had lots of toys bought for them as toddlers and there seemed to be very little point in buying more as gifts for the younger ones, they just don't wear out. At Christmas it was quite evident that the younger ones weren't interested in how many gifts they got compared to the older ones as the unwrapped giftwrap provided just as much fun as any toy inside!

My advice would always be to keep the amount of toys to a minimum. They take up less space and take less time to clean up when there aren't too many. Let the kids improvise with what they can find around their home and see how entertaining an old dish detergent bottle can be in the bath tub, or a colander in the sand.

Yes, this warm weather has been lovely and I have been so pleased to see that children are outside enjoying it. We are looking forward to more rain to make puddles to splash in though!

Posted by Cheryl Bac, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Feb 11, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Cheryl Bac is a registered user.

Mother of 4 - Yes, our stacking cups get used a lot too. We frequently bring them to the pool as water toys and the sandbox to transport sand. My cousin recently gifted me a new set of stacking cups to keep in my bag because you never know when they might come in handy.

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