Over the past few Story Sense sessions, I have had many comments about the resources I use. I know from the moment George was alert and wanting to learn, I wanted to give him everything I could. I wanted to provide him with every experience and every resource that was the best I could get. Realistically when you look around at research and guidance, the resources you need to fulfil them are either nowhere to be found or are so expensive that you just can't afford it.
I have been doing some research (and lazing about on a beach in France for a while!) about what resources are loved by many babies and toddlers but that are perhaps more expensive and what cheaper alternatives there are out there for us to use in a home environment without breaking the bank. So, here are my top 5 must have resources, based on my experience for babies and toddlers and how, in some cases, you can do them on the cheap whilst still getting the same effect.
Everyone knows that babies and toddlers love lights. It is all George used to focus on. I wanted to get him a sensory tent; a blacked out space where he could see the lights and patterns they would create. After research, I realised I was looking at a starting price of £40 and that was just the dark tent. When you add in the lights etc, the budget I once envisaged was now wildly out of reach. So I made my own. I bought a play tent for £15 from Amazon and some black material to hang inside. I added in some fairy lights, a foil blanket, a string of hanging cd's to reflect the lights, coloured ribbon, some textured balls and a wind chime, all found around the house (it's amazing what you have when you look!) It worked brilliantly and I couldn't have spent more than £20 on it. Bargain!
It sounds so simple and I asked 'what could possibly be interesting about a foil blanket?' First of all, they are reflective of light. They are shiny and bright. They are amazingly crunchy! The sound they make is satisfying and according to George; hilarious! They are perfect to roll around on, or just wrap yourself in. Now as it is a foil blanket for runners it can also get pretty hot under there so definitely one to watch! I buy 6 blankets for £7.50 on Amazon and they are worth every penny. Plus, when they are ripped, they are still just as effective in smaller pieces or could be used for art and craft activities instead.
Bubbles and a machine!
Anyone can blow bubbles from the smaller pots. Anyone can use the bubble wands but there is nothing better than a powerful machine that can blow so many more bubbles at one time than a human can! I have had 3 different bubble machines to use for George and Story Sense and my latest one is definitely the best! Although a bubble machine is around £15, it can be used for a long time. My advice would definitely be to search around. Rechargeable batteries have been a life saver. Whilst making a bit of a spend to start with, it is so worth it in the end. Fairy liquid with some water works fine but there are some bubble mixes that are better. However, to keep a lid on the budget, I would go for the home washing up liquid.
Now I don't mean just a pretty one from your winter wardrobe...although I'm sure a baby would be fascinated by its colours and patterns and a toddler would dress up in it! A see-through scarf is great way to play hide and seek. Your little one can still see you or an object, but it shows that they can hide and have a great game of peek-a-boo. This game helps them begin to learn about ‘object permanence’, understanding that something can still exist, even if it’s out of sight.
I know I have said about lights inside the dark tent, but I remember going to my first baby group and seeing fibre optic sensory lights. They were amazing and I wanted some for George! I was expecting the cost to be around £50, but after researching, I was looking at a minimum of £250! However, whilst recently browsing Pinterest for my latest ideas, I saw a new version of them...on a budget with things you may already have at home. All it consists of is white dryer tubing, fairy lights and a hanger. Now, I never found this in time for George and with Story Sense, he has access to all my resources anyway but had I found this earlier I would definitely have had it hanging in a corner of the room for him to explore.