I love battery-free toys! Not only are they fun for kids to play with, but they also help with development. Here are a few of the reasons why I love them:
-They help develop critical thinking and motor skills.
-Toys that do not require batteries thrive on the use of the child’s imagination, where electronics tend to limit their creativity.
-Battery-free toys are durable and last for a long time.
-They’re cheaper in the long run because you won’t be spending extra money on batteries.
-They don’t make as much noise. Come on now, how often have you removed batteries or refused to replace batteries in a toy just because of how annoying it is!?
-They help develop social interaction. Electronics smother dialogue, with battery-free toys they have to interact.
-Choosing battery-free toys is better for the environment. Many electronic toys find their way to the landfill, which causes chemicals from the toy and the battery to leak into the soil.
Now don’t get me wrong, we own our fair share of battery-operated toys, but the toys that my kids continually play with and have loved their whole lives tend to be battery-free. I love that they are playing and growing and developing important skills. Here is a list of our favorite battery-free toys:
My son has been obsessed with dominoes for two years now. He is quite amazing at building long domino runs and towers. Anytime he has friends over I’m amazed at how many of them love to play with the dominoes too. It’s quite satisfying to line dominoes up and then watch them fall and it’s great for motor skills and coordination.
There are so many fun things that can be made out of blocks! Your child could make a house for a stuffed animal, a bridge, or the tallest sky scraper they can build. The blocks can be lined up all over the floor to make a road for toy cars. Many times our blocks have been used to make Angry Bird towers for birds to destroy. Blocks are great for creativity, but they also help with motor skills and hand-eye coordination. There have even been studies that say kids who play with blocks as preschoolers do better in math, problem solving, and maybe even language development.
Puzzles are so great for your child’s development that I could probably write a whole post just on puzzles! Here is the quick version: puzzles help with eye-hand coordination, fine motor skills, shape recognition, memory, and problem solving.
If you have a girl you probably have dolls, but boys should be playing with dolls too! A few of the developmental benefits of dolls include cognitive, fine motor, self help skills, and social-emotional skills. For more detail on the benefits of dolls you should read this awesome article because they go into greater detail.
Help your child explore their creativity by having a variety of fun art supplies on hand. Coloring, painting and gluing can teach colors, textures, fine motor skills, confidence, and focus. Think about how your child feels when you add their masterpiece to the fridge! They can feel great satisfaction and accomplishment with art projects which can help with future school work and self esteem.
We just barely caught the Lego bug around here and now have two boys who could build with them all day long. Legos are great for a child’s creativity, but I also love that Legos are fun for all ages, which makes one Lego purchase a fun thing for years to come. There are debates whether it’s better for a child to follow the directions that come with Lego sets or throw them out and build their own creations. I think both are great! I bought my son’s first Lego set a few weeks ago. It was a small 70 piece monster and when we got home he opened the bag, followed the directions, and built the monster all by himself. I was so proud of him for following directions and he was so proud of his creation. For younger children large lego-type toys like Mega Bloks or Duplo blocks are great too!
Dressing up as a doctor, fire fighter, police officer or dragon isn’t just fun imaginary play for your child, studies have actually linked role-play to empathy in kids, the idea of walking in someone’s shoes is happening as your child dresses up and takes on a different roll. Dress ups strengthen language, social skills, storytelling and problem solving. They are also getting in plenty of self help practice by putting clothes on and using zippers or buttons. For cheap dress ups hit your local thrift store for clothing and accessories you can use to make costumes or go to the store the day or two after Halloween and stock up on fun costumes for dress ups.
I am a big advocate for reading to your children. Start early and read, read, read!! Reading with your child will not only strengthen your relationship by spending time together, but it also helps them learn basic speech skills, better logical thinking skills, enhances concentration and builds a lifelong love of reading. We have always enjoyed Sandra Boynton board books and now that my boys are a little older we have been reading chapter books together at night. It’s my favorite part of the day. Here is a great list of chapter books.
Sometimes the most simple toys are the best. Balls are fun for all ages, but a ball you would give a baby will look a little different than a ball you would give a four, five, or six year old. For young children textured, soft balls are best. Balls can be a great tool in teaching kids important motor skills like grasping, using small finger muscles, moving objects from one hand to the other and hand-eye coordination. How a baby and four year old play with a ball is a lot different too. Toddlers learn how to roll a ball before throwing so rolling a ball back and forth is a fun game. Older kids can throw a ball and even kick a ball so you can come up with a lot of fun games to get them moving.
I just couldn’t write a post about battery-free toys without adding bubbles! Bubbles are fun for a wide range of ages and it’s a great way to get outside and get moving. I love playing with bubbles with my kids because I love the faces they make while chasing them down, but bubbles are also great for development! With all the running, crouching, jumping, stomping, clapping, and reaching going on bubbles are great for gross motor skills. They also help with visual tracking skill, fine motor skills, hand eye coordination and oral motor skills, just to name a few.
Musical instruments are so fun for kids. How fun is it to shake or hit something and have it reward you with an awesome noise!? The great thing about musical instruments is you can easily make homemade shakers, guitars, and drums at home by reusing plastic containers or tissue boxes. Or just pull out the pots and pans and give your child a wooden spoon. Instruments teach cause and effect, rhythm, and fine motor skills.
Plastic animals and dinosaurs
Plastic animals are a great choice for a toy for a young child because the toy will last awhile because they grow with your child. My older kids still play with animals and dinosaurs they had as toddlers. They play with them a lot differently, but no matter what game they choose the plastic animals always seem to be able to fit in. Plastic animals spark imagination, creativity and develop social interaction.
Play Doh encourages creativity and imaginative play and is great for fine muscle development. You can set your child at the table with some cookie cutters or you can try our Play-Doh alphabet mats for additional learning activities. You can even make your own play doh and add different smells and textures to it.
Buying a new expensive appliance might not be on the top of your fun list, but the box they come in can provide hours of fun for a child. Boxes are great for creativity and imaginative play. Our boxes have become castles, dog cages, space ships, homes and more. For even more fun set your child up in a box with crayons and let them color all over the walls (after explaining that they are only allowed to draw on the box walls, of course).
Lacing is a fun activity for kids that help develop fine motor skills, concentration, and hand-eye coordination. You can make your own lacing cards (look for templates online), but I thought these Eric Carle lacing cards were adorable!
Beads are another toy that have so many developmental benefits that it’s hard to name them all without writing a whole post on it. Here are just a few. Beads help with fine muscle skills, hand-eye coordination, planning skills, and math skills (how long does the necklace have to be, patterns, how many beads do I need to finish this necklace, etc). Don’t think that beads are just for girls either. My boys recently made necklaces at a cousin’s house and wear them all the time. You don’t even have to make jewelry. Stick some skewers into a mound of play doh and let your child practice putting beads onto the skewers. It’s a great boredom buster!
Remember you don’t have to own all of these toys for your child to learn and grow and have fun. This list is here to give you ideas if you’re looking for something new. Also, along with giving your child toys to play with don’t forget to give your them plenty of opportunities to play outside! Get them moving and exploring the world around them. Fine motor skills are important, but so are gross motor skills! Take them to a new playground or find fun things to do in your own backyard. Skooters, bikes, and trikes are great to get them going, or gardening tools to get them digging and raking. Have fun and play along with child!