Finding Fun Around the House

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After reading HelloBee.com's post yesterday here about using items around the house that baby/toddler can play with- I was thinking about things lying around my house.  With my first baby, I went way, way overboard with all the giant Little Tikes (irony, it is) slides, art easels, ride-on toys, etc.  Big, space-hoarding, plastic things in primary colors were all around our house collecting dust half the time (and the dogs loves chewing on the plastic corners too much).  Then I Craigslisted it all to get to a uncluttered state of home.  And I didn't stock up on new toys for my second baby.  She has, like, 3 new non-first-baby era toys.

When we're in the kitchen and I'm cooking/cleaning away, Bambina sits on the floor and I hand her safe kitchen utensils or small pans to play with so she doesn't crawl away and get into mischief.  Once she gets bored, I'll hand her another- one at a time- and save the whisk (oh the joys of the whisk!- we swear by it) for last.  This all gives me a good 15 minutes before she crawls away attempting to find some unsupervised house territory.  I've found 3 things she now loves- all already in my house.  All fun for her!

First: Lego Duplo Bricks. They are big, and they are plastic- but, the pieces are perfect for her little chubby hands to maneuver (though, not yet put together- she's got the pulling apart down).  And, these LEGO Duplo My First Set are already in our house- one of the few pile of toys I saved from Sillyboy's younger years.  I didn't have to buy any of these 3 things!  I just had to drag them out (from the depths of the garage) and clean them off really well.

Second item: wooden puzzles.  They are NOT plastic (woot!), and they were also from Sillyboy's younger years.  Again, I did wipe them down very well, and am surprised how well they've lasted despite all the throwing and banging up they endured.  Bambina hasn't yet mastered putting the pieces into the actual puzzle, but she enjoys when we take turns, and I show her how, then give her the opportunity next.

This particular puzzle is Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Safari Chunky Puzzle (one of my fave brands) and I actually love the brightness in color (in non-toxic paint) for each animal.  Plus, many times we just grab a few of these animals without the puzzle board backing and play on the floor.  Other times, the alligator gets toted around the house or on errands since he's so chubby-hand cooperative.  And these pieces also withstand lots of gumming. And gobs of drool.

Third: a water-filled hoola hoop.  Yes, this is a toy of the ages.  I've had this hoola hoop in the garage for 5+ years (or more- pre-Sillyboy maybe?) and can't remember why it's water filled.  Maybe to help with the actual "hooping" or something.  But it's purple and glittery.  And occupies Bambina for a good 15 minutes on its own.  My little gymnast:This never-ending circle provides more fun that any other toy in our basket-o-goodies I keep stashed in the living room.  I'm both surprised and amazed, but the kids love it.  Sillyboy just learned how to hoola hoop in P.E. class at school (though he hasn't been interested in bike riding without training wheels yet).

What types of things does your kiddo love to play with, that are already in your home?  Keeping less clutter and reusing old thing is a win/win, what do you let your kids play with that may not seem like a regular toy?