Creating an inspiring environment to suit different age groups by Carly Moore
Whether you are a parent, work in home-based childcare or are based within a nursery or day care setting, one thing that I am sure we all have in common is how quickly and abundantly we acquire ‘’stuff’’ for our children. Be it puzzles, games, drawing and craft items or toys. There never seems to be enough storage to contain it all, and sometimes frustratingly, never the right items to amuse everyone. I have spent many an hour trying to find play items, that will suit all the age ranges that I have in my care, whether at work or at home. Thanks to my introduction to TickiT about 4 years ago, the hours I’ve spent trawling websites for exciting toys have been drastically reduced and buying resources has become a pleasure.
To have so many wonderful inspiring and engaging resources to choose from, that I know will please everyone, is an absolute joy. The thought that seems to go into the creation of TickiT products is clear. Each item is robust, timeless, versatile and traverses multiple age ranges. Which in my opinion are all absolute musts when wanting to create a stimulating and enticing environment that doesn’t look messy or overwhelming.
Some of my favourite items are the Rainbow Glitter Letters, not least for how pretty and inviting they are but for how play with them can be adapted to suit whatever age. Younger children are definitely drawn to them for how pleasing they are to the eye and I love how they encourage letter recognition from a young age. As the letters are made from hard-wearing materials, they can be hidden in sensory trays covered with foam, sand or rice, to be uncovered, thus enabling younger children to enjoy open ended, exploratory play with them. They can be used for threading activities or hung up and displayed, thanks to the small hole punched into each letter, assisting with the development of fine motor and critical thinking skills. As children get older, these letters take on a new purpose, helping build confidence with learning the alphabet, spelling short words like hat and dog, tracing around them or crayon rubbings over the top. These are a truly wonderful resource and such a reasonable price at £16.99.
I couldn’t write this blog without giving a mention to the incredible Wooden Life Cycle Tiles that we recently got to unwrap and discover within our nursery setting. Played with by children who were 3 & 4, they were later enjoyed by my own children at home who are 6 and 9, and I shan’t deny that at the age of 39, I also got great joy out of playing with them!
The younger children relished identifying what was featured on the tiles and working together to produce the correct life cycle, aided by some very helpful markings, whenever they encountered some difficulties.
The tiles provided many opportunities to ask questions and really engage with what was being played with, a great way to start understanding what is happening in the world around us.
At home, my two older sons really enjoyed reading the accompanying leaflet whilst organising the tiles, which gave us all some great information that we didn’t know previously. As an adult leading this activity with younger children, this is also an incredibly handy thing to have to help provide them with some easy to remember facts! Whilst a little higher in price at £24.99, I cannot emphasise enough what good value this is, especially to have in a childcare setting.
Finally, I wanted to highlight a few other TickiT items which are great for all ages and can be adapted for different abilities and play and learning stages;
- Holly’s Phonics; Great for matching pairs games and encouraging speech and new words for younger children. A fantastic resource for learning phonics for those children who are perhaps getting ready to transition to school.
- Rainbow Wooden Keys; Younger children will enjoy noticing the different colours and shapes of the keys as well as having fun threading them onto the string. Older children, can practice their number recognition, counting and number ordering skills.
- Wooden Solar System Discs; Who doesn’t love imaginary play with Planets?! Younger children can have fun stacking the planets or trying to recognise Earth. Those that are a little older can take this further by learning about all the planets in the solar system. These discs have some great planet-based facts on the back too.
Written by Carly Moore, mother and Early Years Practitioner.