If you’ve been following me for a while, you may know that I have a background in Early Childhood Education.
And I absolutely LOVE creating play materials for my daughter!
We do extra activities, too. Like sensory bins, art activities, cooking, exploring nature… But honestly, I see those things as a BONUS.
My passion is more based on her daily play materials.
I like to think of her toyshelf as the “meat and potatoes” of play.
And if those materials are meeting her developmental needs, we can be more spontaneous and intuitive with our bonus activities.
So I’d like to share what was on Violet’s toyshelf rotation between 12-15 months of age!
Some of the materials are store-bought, others are homemade. Many of them are composed of thrifted materials. And I do love supporting toymakers on Etsy when possible. (Although don’t get me wrong, we choose these toys carefully because we are a single-income family!)
Anyways, read on if you’d like inspiration for the 12-15-month-old in your life!
Warning: this is a mega-list, and I’ll break it into a 4-part series. One post for each week in her toy rotation.
And FYI, these are not affiliate links. I’m just sharing to share. 😀
So, okay: HERE. WE. GO!
This little toy was store-bought, and it has been one of Violet’s FAVORITE toys between the ages of 12-16 months! She STILL loves it! FYI: the little peg-people are too long to be a choking hazard. It’s a great fine motor skill toy. She loves taking the pegs in and out, and she frequently just carries them around the house or combines them with other toys.
Wood bead maze:
I found this at the thrift store for $7. It’s not Violet’s favorite toy, but she does enjoy it if she needs a little quiet play time. It’s a classic fine motor skill activity… Although honestly? Her favorite part of this toy is probably trying to pick it up and carry it, so it has become more of a “maximum effort” toy. Haha, which is fine.
Loose Parts Bowl:
Okay, so I am a big fan of loose parts, which, if you’re not familiar with loose parts… it’s basically a play philosophy where you give a child lots of open-ended materials and allow them to use imaginative, constructive play. If you’re interested in learning more, you should definitely google “Reggio Emilia” and “Loose Parts Play!”
Loose parts can be tricky for toddlers because you need to keep their materials choke-safe. So here’s an example (pictured above) of a simple loose parts exploration bowl I threw together for Violet. It includes:
- Thrifted wood bowl (she LOVES the tiers)
- Thrifted wood pegs (they’re long enough to be choke-safe)
- An adorable realistic baby bunny that she’s obsessed with
- A plastic housefly, because why not?
- Some wonderful handmade wood trees from this Etsy Shop
- Some sweet wood stars I found on Etsy (but I won’t link to the shop because I had a bad customer service experience, LOL.)
Some Toy That I Don’t Remember the Name Of:
This little toy was a gift at Violet’s first birthday, and she wasn’t strong enough to push the pieces together. But she does enjoy pulling them apart! And she especially likes to put the toy on her little finger and wave it around, LOL!
Okay so I have mixed reviews on this toy. I LOVE this toy. For myself. LOL! I enjoy stacking it with Violet, but the pieces are a little too big and heavy for her to manipulate easily. I keep it in her toy rotation because sometimes she is interested in it. But it’s not a favorite, unfortunately. I think it would probably be most ideal for an 18-24-month-old who has more strength and has mastered some more stacking basics. Still, a fun toy!
Okay so this is a basic little xylophone toy that you can find anywhere. We got ours at a consignment shop for like $3. But I hated how the mallet was attached really closely to the xylophone. It made it impossible to whack! LOL! So I actually cut it off and now Violet LOVES playing with this toy. She mostly loves the mallet… carrying it around… hitting the TV with it… LOL. So ya know, purchase at your own risk. But she does actually play music on occasion, too. I think any brand would be fine, just know that the mallet will be the main attraction.
This was a store-bought toy, and I HIGHLY recommend it! It’s a little pricier than the plastic ones I’ve seen, but Violet absolutely LOVES this toy. It is high quality and will last for a loooong time. Now, sometimes the balls get stuck in the corner of the box and won’t roll out. At first I thought this was an annoying flaw. BUT, Violet actually loves to investigate where the stuck ball is! So what I saw as a con, was actually a bonus in her eyes. I love that!
This is a great cause and effect toy, fine motor, object permanence.. it checks a lot of boxes 😀
If you’re going to buy a toy for a first birthday party gift, this is what I’d recommend!
I like to include a gross-motor toy in each of Violet’s toy rotations, and this week it’s simply her Skip Hop table and a set of cool Guidecraft blocks! She likes pulling the blocks in and out of that large green storage box and placing them on top of the table. Then she carries the blocks around the room. And that’s pretty much it! Haha.
Now I will say, those blocks are expensive. We were lucky and scored a huge set of them at the consignment shop for $7!!! But we did also buy a set of the mirrored guidecraft blocks for Violet’s first birthday gift, and she’s very happy with them. (So far they have been very sturdy – no cracks, etc.) I’d recommend them for a special gift!
That’s it! She also has access to lots of books on her bookshelf you can see pictured above. But I like to limit her toys to about 10 at a time. She does not have toys in her room because it’s important to me that she has a restful space there. (At least for now, haha.) Plus, I like that our living room is inclusive of every family member’s interests. It makes me happy to see her colorful little shelf!
I’ll share the next batch of toys in our rotation soon!
Wishing you a fun day with your family,