As the years have gone by our play and play spaces have adapted and evolved with us as our family grew. This blog post is a bit of an overview as to where we started and where we are now in regards to the toys we own and how our/where our play space is set up.
When Big Sis was born I hadn’t found the type of toys that I wanted to provide her with so I kept to the basics but kept it as open ended as possible.
So what is an open ended toy?
It can be anything that leaves plenty of room for a child’s input. Many children could be offered the same toy and they would probably all find a different way to play with it. Some examples being blocks, balls, sticks, rocks or a bottle etc.
When she was little I bought most of my toys from local op shops as well as many baskets and bowls to display them in and on our shelves.
The beauty of open ended toys is that you don’t need as many toys as there are so many ways that you can play with the same items. Before I found and fell in love with quality open ended resources (like Grimm’s and Grapat) I made everything out of cardboard like I was still at work with a limited budget because let’s face it, raising a family on a single income isn’t easy!
DIY play is really effective firstly for budget and also because it can be recycled when your children no longer have an interest in it or if it gets broken. Simple things like boxes, containers, balls, pom poms, bells, pipe cleaners, paddle pop sticks etc. can be used to create some great activities and it’s how I educated Big Sis until she was about 16 months old.
As an example Big Sis learnt to colour match with pom poms and ikea coloured bowls over all this activity costed about $4 and was very well loved for matching the colours of the bowls, tipping them in and out, picking them up with tongs and transferring them in to another bowl and so much more.
It might not look pretty but it has the exact same purpose so please don’t think that you need only the best to engage your children in quality learning through play because, you don’t.
How we begun our collection
As beautiful as the toys that we stock are I know the price tag can be intimidating. I first found these toys when Big Sis was around 9 months old but I held off purchasing until she was about 16 months old as I just couldn’t imagine spending that amount of money on toys when I was on maternity leave and not working.
When I told Dion about these toys and how much we could do with them as Big Sis grows he was totally on board and encouraged me to buy the Grapat Carla set and mates. I felt terrible about spending so much money from the moment I ordered it until it showed up and I opened it - immediately I saw the quality of it and fell in love.
We instantly got stuck into playing with them and setting out little invitations to play in the mornings for her to wake up to. A few weeks later I told Dion I also wanted the Grimm’s Rainbow, Semi Circles, Building Boards and the Rainbow Balls. I knew it was a lot but I knew there was so much I could do with just these few items so again he agreed!
We decided to keep these in our lounge room so they could look nice on display but also get a lot of love during the days whilst I was upstairs in the mornings or cooking dinner. At this time our playroom was external to our house downstairs in a rumpas room so it wasn’t easily accessible. I’d have to get everyone and everything ready to take myself and the kids down there for the day and come back upstairs for nap times and this was quite a difficult task with two under two!
Slowly over time we purchased new items to add to our collection and I rotated them in with our Op Shop purchases and DIY activities on our shelves.
Little Miss was born when Big Sis was 20 months old and I was so thankful to have the quality toys. Each night Dion and I would sit together after the kids were in bed setting up a new invitation to play.
It really helped keep Big Sis entertained whilst I fed Little Miss in the mornings and we loved doing this together each night. I would record how she played with them to send to Dion and ended up starting a new Instagram account @grimms_creations to store our ideas on and never thought it would take off like it did!
This is actually how Little Toy Tribe begun as Dion went to Germany with Grimm’s Wooden Toys in January of 2019 thanks to his famous #grimmsballrun but you can read more about that on our other blog Our Story.
I do find that enjoying the toys that our kids play with really helps us as parents. It makes us want to sit down and play with the girls as we enjoy them too!
Dion had said a few times when Big Sis was little that he found it hard to play with her as he didn’t know what to talk about or what to do to keep her engaged. But when playing with Grimm’s he would talk about colours or the way he was using it, where the ball was going etc. He never really played with children until he had his own but myself on the other hand had worked with them 5 days a week for many years prior.
Slowly as years have passed and our collection has grown I’ve donated toys back to op shops or passed them on to friends as I have replaced them with the quality items that I love.
Our play space is now in our lounge room as Little Toy Tribe has taken over our rumpas room stocked with all the beautiful toys we now share with you guys!
We love having a small play space now but at first it was quite an adjustment. It feels wonderful having it in the centre of our home. It is where everyone comes together when we have guests over, cook dinner or just play during the day, on weekends or before bed.
Out of all the places it has been it's definitely my favourite and you definitely don't need a lot of toys to entertain children - less is more.
We are so passionate about sharing the way we play wanted to let you know how we have grown our collection and how it has adapted over time because no two families are the same.
Feel welcome to take bits of what works for us and implement them in your home. Many of the play spaces you see on Instagram are beautiful but I will remind you again that you don’t need everything to engage in quality play with your children, you are enough!
If you want to read about why I started toy rotation you can have a read here.