Toys and Play

Technique 91 – Look no farther than your own home for playthings for your child.

Unformed toys provide open-ended experiences for children. They come with no rules and therefore have no limitations. In a natural way they elicit language and creative development. Children interact with them in such a way that they continue to acquire new skills. Instead of being toys that children outgrow, they are toys that grow with the child. These kinds of toys illustrate the well-known adage, “The more you put into something, the more you get out of it.”

If play is a child’s work, then toys are the tools. These encompass many things from around the house that we all like, and here are some examples. Please note that all these items must be used age-appropriately. For children under four, keep an watchful eye out when using pieces that are small enough to be swallowed. For all children, watch carefully for safe usage of any and all these materials.

Cards and paper

Newspaper and magazines

Pencils and pens

Markers and crayons

Plastic containers

Wrapping paper



Paper clips

Paper cups

Rubber bands



Index cards

Bubble wrap

Rubber bands

Bottle caps


Tongue depressors

Paper plates

Construction paper






Styrofoam packing material

Paper towel and toilet paper tubes





Junk mail

Parenting Insight…

An appropriate toy challenges a child to think. The amount of thinking that your child does is what determines the true value of the toy. Toys that are the most formed have the least value, and those that have the least form have the most value. With more form, you can put less into it. With less form, you can put more into it. For example, a toy that has one button to push and that does only one thing requires little thinking. A ball, on the other hand, invites many different kinds of play.


April! The Month of Volunteering

“There are those who give with joy, and that joy is there reward.”

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

British Writer



  1. Great list, especially for older children!

    Of course, small objects should be kept out of reach of little ones (under age 4), or only used with undisturbed adult supervision. Any child (no matter what age) who puts items near or in his/her mouth will need extra supervision to use some of these items.

    Have fun creating all kinds of things, and stay safe! -Noelle Michaels, MA, CCC-SLP, LDT-C Speech and Learning Specialist

  2. Hi Noelle,
    What a thoughtful comment. Thank you very much for your addition. I had the same feeling when I went over everything on the list and then decided not to mention about using the materials age-appropriately. Now I am going back in to add a note about it. There is no question about the importance of warning about being careful around items that can be swallowed.

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