WITH so many toys and activities on the market designed to appeal to children, it's hard to know what you really need to get to keep them entertained.
But childcare expert, professional nanny and former nursery worker Kathryn Lord has revealed the essential items all households need, and the ones parents should seriously reconsider.
Pencils, crayons and paper can keep children entertained for hours, says Kathryn, founder of More To Organising
"There are so many things you can do from drawing, making personalised word searches and mazes to paper aeroplanes, chatterboxes or origami," she tells Fabulous.
"Add into that some child-friendly scissors and sellotape and you can do so much more."
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Kathryn says: "Jigsaws are amazing for fine motor skills and supporting problem solving and perseverance."
The good news is, there's plenty of options on the market that are suitable for all age groups.
Depending on the size, and the age of the child, jigsaw puzzles can take a long tome to complete meaning they'll keep your little occupied for hours on end.
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Small world play
Small world play such as a zoo or a farm is brilliant for children's imagination, as well as building their vocabulary, Kathryn says.
All homes should have one available for kids to play with, especially with siblings as it makes for a great actibity to play with together.
Kathryn says: "I always advise my clients to have a pretend kitchen. Children learn by copying what you do and the breadth of learning that can be done here is wonderful. "
She recommends adding in some recipe books and menus for reading opportunities, a pretend phone for speaking as well as a pad and pencil for mark making and writing opportunities (think shopping list or even taking your order).
WHAT TO AVOID
Rather than banning things entirely, Kathryn says there are some items she will avoid unless an adult is present. These include Orbeeze and slime.
She explains: "This is because of their potential to cause damage or because they are a choking hazard."
Another example is Lego. While Kathryn says it's "brilliant to support fine motor skills and creative development," it too can be a choking hazard.
"Make sure older siblings play with Lego in their own room rather than in a communal spot [where young children can access it]," she says.
Although Play-Doh is another example of an activity that can improve fine motor skills and encourage creative development, there should be some rules.
"Making sure you use Play-Doh in a room with no carpet means it’s less likely to get trodden in," Kathryn explains.
"If left out of the packaging this can dry up easily and while not toxic, if ingested can cause your child to be poorly."
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Parents and their kids can try making their own Play-Doh, says Kathryn, but depending on your recipe, this can go off more quickly.
"But the great thing about that is the children can be involved in making it and you can add in scents and natural food dyes," she says.
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