Silly Pets Sticker Face: My toddler received this sticker book as a gift for Christmas (she was 28 months at the time). Every few months, I pull out the sticker book and she makes a couple animals. At first, six months ago, she needed assistance taking the stickers off the backing and now she’s mastered folding the page so an edge of the sticker pops up and she can grab it (some of them take real dexterity to remove). She chooses the stickers and puts them on the animals herself. It’s been fun to mark her progress from misaligned eyes to features all in the proper places to now purposely making “silly” pictures. The best thing about this activity is that they make perfect framed art for a playroom or kid’s bedroom. I write down my child’s name (and now she signs them), the date she made the picture, and anything she said about the picture (“this is funny”) as she made it.
Puzzles: My toddler LOVES puzzles. As a result, we’ve got a whole bin full of them. We’ve spent many hours working on puzzles. There are some clunkers in the bunch but most keep her and I entertained on the hundredth repeat. Melissa and Doug have a vast selection of puzzles, most are good, but they aren’t cheap. I’ve caught a couple M&D half-off sales that have put the puzzles in the $10 range. I’ve also found some great (and cheap) ones online and at Aldi’s. My favorite at the moment is the Learning Journey Match It! Spelling. Puzzles are great for fine motor skills, problem solving, and, depending on the puzzle, so much more- letters, spelling, math, hunt and find, etc. My child is entertained and learning new skills -so worth the price for unlimited fun. Here’s some more favorites.
Cards: We’ve got several kinds of educational flash cards (I found quite a few at the Dollar Store). Some are shapes and colors, others are numbers or letters, and some are card games, such as the matching game. I usually put several cards face up on the table in front of my daughter and have her pick all the green ones, all the circles, count to ten, or go through the alphabet, for instance. When she was first learning numbers at 21-months old, a regular deck of cards entertained her at restaurants and on camping trips (and when she tired of numbers we moved on to building card houses and made-up games suitable for toddlers). We also received more expensive (than a dollar) laminated Begin Smart Look! flash cards for babies. These have pictures and various activities you can do with your baby. They’re sturdier than the Dollar Store finds, surviving several chew sessions, and are making the rounds again with Baby #2- she’s a fan of the dog card (another dog lover!)
Activity Books: The Dollar Store also has great activity books on math, colors, letters, first words, etc. With a variety of activities and sections to practice tracing letters and numbers, my toddler is entertained for a long time (bonus that she’s learning along the way). It’s most certainly a well-spent dollar.
Books: Both of my children LOVE books. No surprise, really, since there are some major readers in our family. But then there’s the price of some children’s books: outrageous. This is a tricky one in a “cheap” category because cheap books are often bad (a particular Frozen one comes to mind). However, there are some wonderful books out there in the $5 range and I’ve found good quality used ones at sales. And then there’s the library-can’t beat free! Here are some favorites this summer.