While my son is still perfectly content with amusing himself 'driving' cars, reading books, and doing incredible acts of imagination with cardboard boxes as they are alternately cars, laundry machines, cribs for stuffed animals, robots [and he gets very annoyed when I try to use them to, you know, pack] he also appreciates toys more than ever before. In our new house I'm planning to convert the formal living room into a play area for him and plan to stock it full of things to help grow his creativity and imagination. I'm not sure yet what will go there, but am planning to follow the guidelines in Brain Rules For Baby and provide tons of opportunity for creative free play with blocks, a bookshelf, musical instruments, and role playing toys of some sort [though he does role play with adult sized brooms which seems to work just fine]. I also plan to have a sandbox outside and a small inflatable wading pool and sidewalk chalk.
The only issue is, he doesn't have a lot of toys at this point, toys are expensive, and most of the toys I have bought for him, like his activity cube, get played with for one second and then quickly forgotten. So while I'm considering adding a toy kitchen, a train track, and other toys into this play area, I'm wondering if he only lights up when they're other people's toys and will be less compelled if they're his.
I'd also love to do more activities and crafts with him. I'm a touch nervous since he's not in daycare and getting the structured learning, he might be missing out on something and I'd love to add more activities and crafts to my repertoire. I've been googling away to no avail as most of my searches lead me to printable pages [which, even as a teacher I abhorred ditto worksheets] and sites more filled with ads than ideas. I did find a few like this one with a handful of ideas, and this one which has a few things I could do but making a full-sized functional video arcade out of cardboard boxes? That aint ever gonna me. I'm looking for simple but fun craft and activities like feeding bread to the ducks at the lake, painting pebbles, making sand art or stringing macaroni on a necklace. I have a nice long list of 101 things I want to do with my child, but I'd love more ideas particularly of the crafting indoor everyday kind.
What sort of toys does/did your toddler love the most? If you have a play area set aside how did you set it up? What sorts of goodies lie within? And what sort of activities and crafts do you do with your toddler in and around the home that help them grow, are fun, and don't involve printable worksheets? Any websites you recommend? Any advice much appreciated!