Open-ended toddler play space
by Sonyia Jacobs
(Albany, GA, USA)
Jakob's play space
I am a firm believer in the philosophy of "less is more", especially when it comes to toys. My 2-year-old's play space is a small amount of well-made, quality wooden toys.
As you can see, our play area is in the middle of our living room, so he can play freely all day and invite us to play when he wants company.
Jakob's favorite toys are the simplest. He has a set of Haba blocks (on the back shelf) that he uses not only to build, but also as microphones and telephones, eliminating the need for cheap plastic replicas of these items.
We are a very musical family, so he has several wooden instruments, as well as a real guitar. However, he also loves using his broom as a guitar, not just for cleaning!
My husband is an excellent cook, so Jakob really enjoys imitating him with realistic, smaller-scale wooden foods and cookware. The stovetop you see also sits well on the kitchen counter, so he can cook right alongside Daddy.
Most of the toys you see are made in the USA or Europe, although there is a basket full of "real stuff" that he also enjoys--actual kitchen utensils, clothespins, and other actual "adult" items. Once my newborn is a bit older, I will start working on felt food items and a few other home-made projects. The bag hanging toward the windows is actually a cloth grocery bag that my mother and I made when I was little and living in Germany.
I made this play space in February of this year, and donated all of his plastic and electronic toys piece by piece. I've noticed that, since I remade the play area, he actually plays with his toys instead of just pressing buttons with a blank look on his face. It is truly amazing to see the difference in your child's face when playing with natural, open-ended toys versus disposable plastic toys that often break after little wear and dull the imagination.
Jakob's play space is truly imagination-inspiring to our whole family.