Squeaker turned a year old on December 5th and while I’ve seen different criteria for classifying a child of her age; we alternate between calling her an older baby or a toddler (… toddling terror, to be specific). She is walking and walking quite well, and she uses walking as her primary form of movement. She’ll only crawl now if it’s to reach something that she can’t bend down and pick up. But, even with all of her walking, I still try to find easy play ideas that will keep her moving, keep her occupied and also facilitate some sort of independent play. I’m not trying to say that I want her to play independently all the time- she’s still just a baby (in my eyes and heart) but to at least start some of the independent play skills. My desk (work area) is in the corner of our dining room and well within view of the living room, which is where most of her toys are. But, because she gets bored with her toys pretty easily (or at least so it seems), we recently tried playing with non-toys. We’re always looking for easy and simple every day play ideas and this fits the bill.
And yes, you are reading that right- I let her play with cat toys. But these are also toys that the cat had absolutely no interest in playing with. But why cat toys? Well, aside from the fact that we have them around, simple:
* Easy to manipulate
Though I could just as easily give her other toys that are made for babies and toddlers, we chose the cat toys. And doesn’t that seem to be a common theme between cats and kids? Won’t play with their own toys.
The cat toys are easy for her to pick up and play with.
It wasn’t until I saw her playing with one of them that I got the rest from the set and grabbed one of the smaller plastic food storage containers from the cabinet. One of her favorite things to do lately is to put things into a container, shake it, and spill it. This is a skill that we’re working on as far as filling and emptying containers with objects.
I’m hoping to make a run to the dollar store to get more containers for her to work with, or look elsewhere for more natural materials as we’re trying to keep plastic use to a minimum. Until then, our storage container will suffice.
And so will the cat toys. Right now they’re the perfect size for her hands to hold and manipulate. They aren’t too loud and the textures make them interesting. Perhaps when the cat actually shows some interest in playing with them, I’ll give them back to her. But for now, they’re in the toy bin for Squeaker.
Other ways we’ll be playing with these? A simple toss game. She isn’t near that skill yet but she is diligently filling the little container with the cat toys, shaking the container, and then dumping them out. She’s also finding that with three of them in there, she can’t shake the container quite as well. We’re also counting as we go though Squeaker gets a bit impatient if I’m not counting fast enough.
We’re also working on her taking the cat toy out of the container and handing it to me. I’ll thank her, and either hand it back or put it in the container. We’re doing this in combination with the signs for please, thank you, and you’re welcome, just to give her another way for communication until her vocabulary develops more.
So, even though this may seem incredibly simple (because it is) we’ll continue to have this in our rotation of every day play activities. Squeaker enjoys it and really, that’s all that matters to me.