|Sqeak Toys and Rattles|
|Sonajas Y Juguetes Ruidosos|
|Blocks and Cups|
One of the goals of the Family Enrichment Program is to encourage parent/child interactions that are centered around developmentally appropriate play with toys. The staff recognize that many of the families in the Family Enrichment Program often have limited resources available to them for investing in toys and play materials. Thus, each week at the infant playgroups, parents are introduced to a play concept related to the weekly theme and are given the opportunity to create a simple homemade toy out of recycled materials.
During the first week of the month parents make a homemade squeak toy or rattle. Parents discuss how babies are attracted to novel visual and auditory stimuli and the importance of encouraging babies to explore with all of their senses, including mouthing. The second week of the month parents make homemade blocks or cups. Parents discuss the emergence of object permanence, the importance of combining objects, and in and out play. The third week of the month parents make homemade busy toys. Parents discuss how children learn about cause effect relationships and the importance of providing a responsive environment. The fourth week of the month parents make homemade stuffed animals or animal books. Parents learn to appreciate how children cue in to facial features, the importance of playing peek-a-boo games, and begin to understand the role of pretend play in child development.
Parents are introduced to a variety of recycled materials, including items made from plastic, cloth, wood, and even metal. The recycled materials are used to create the homemade toys. In addition, parents are provided with creative craft supplies, including colorful contact paper, ribbons, pom-poms, magazine pictures, and jingle bells to enhance their homemade toys. Furthermore, parents learn about the importance of toy safety in both store bought and homemade toys.
Observation of the parents in the Family Enrichment Program have revealed that when parents are given the opportunity to make toys and to learn about the importance of play that their ability to choose developmentally appropriate toys for their children and to encourage child development through play is enhanced.