I love crafting, and I particularly like making things that have a purpose. Since having children I've found myself making lots of things for them, from homemade toys and games to clothing, blankets and accessories. I thought that I'd share some of my favourite educational toys, some of which they've been involved in making too.
I loved making these bright and cheerful tactile alphabet cards. The cards measure about 5 cm by 10 cm and were made using the cardboard from a sturdy nappy box. My toddler helped me to paint them in a range of colours, and together we gathered small items from around the home to form the letters. I made a lower case alphabet, and making the cards provided plenty of opportunity to discuss the shape of the letters. When they were finished we used them to practice the letters, with my toddler tracing the shapes with his fingers.
I made these embroidered felt numbers for my toddler using scraps of felt, embroidery silk, small beads and sequins. They were really easy to make, and a great tactile resource for number ordering.
Together my toddler and I put together this simple helicopter game. If you click the link you can find examples of the different games that we played together. His favourite was when I hid the coloured landing pads around the room and then gave him the helicopters, letting him match the colours to land the helicopter in the correct place.
Making a cardboard post box and letters is a great way to encourage early literacy skills with a toddler. We made a post box from an old carton, then we made lots of letters for family and friends, decorating them with stickers. A young toddler can have fun sticking pictures to paper to make postcards, and older toddlers can practice their writing, even if it's just writing their name at the bottom of a letter.
To help children begin to learn about their place in the world you can make a me on the map book together. It starts with a small circle with a picture of your house, then something to represent your street, your town, your county and so on, finishing with a picture of the Earth. Children can help find or draw pictures to represent each area, and when the book is finished you can flip through it together to help put each circle in context. I've also written more about introducing young children to geography.
Finally, we had fun making some simple flags together, inspired by a recent football tournament. There are plenty of places where you can print out flag blanks to colour, you can see where we found ours using the link above. We brightened ours up with collage and glitter and I laminated them to make them sturdy. Even with very young children it's interesting to look at the similarities and differences between different flags, and to find the different countries on a map.
You can find some more of the toys and games that I've made for my children here - homemade toys and games for young children.