I love those beautiful, handcrafted, natural toys that are often associated with Waldorf, Montessori and Reggio approaches. If I could afford it I would fill my home with them, but as it stands we are on a budget for a family of six. I regularly visit charity shops and garage sales, where with a little creative thought things can be repurposed. When it comes to providing toys for my children I think two things: Quality and Imagination.
Quality does matter. It can determine the longevity of a toy and also whether that toy will nourish a child. The key question I will ask myself when purchasing toys for my children is, “Will this toy encourage their imagination?”
Open-ended toys by their nature encourage the imagination. Duplo is a fantastic open-ended toy. Steer away from the themed sets and the ones where only enough blocks are provided to make what is on the box. These sets are limiting the imagination. Providing a variety of blocks will allow children to be creative in their play.
I have had Duplo out since my children were babies. Babies love picking them up, mouthing the texture and banging them together. Ooffa would love lying on his tummy and brush his arms through the Duplo. They would make the biggest noise as they all swept together. Strawberry on the other hand, hated the noise!
Young toddlers enjoy putting the blocks together and pulling them apart, eventually they put more and more blocks together to form towers. Then the creativity really begins! Buildings are formed. Walls are created. Towns and cities come alive. Duplo play can be further extended with the addition of play cloths and natural objects, such as leaves and stones.
- Fine motor skills with grasping, connecting blocks, placement of blocks.
- Language development through talking about what you are doing, what you are building, why you are doing it that way.
- Cognitive learning happens through trial and error when building with the blocks, colour learning, counting and shape recognition can all happen when playing with Duplo.
- Social skills can be encouraged when children play together with Duplo.
- Emotional skills such as perseverance and feelings of success can be encouraged through this activity.