New ways to play with old toys.

February 06, 2014


GOT UN-USED TOYS? Time to brush them off and play:

Here are some ideas to move toys up from the bottom of the toy box.

Bring old favorites back into the rotation:

  1. Give plastic toys a bath: many hard plastic items (small people, animals, cars) can be drawn on with marker and then easily washed off in soapy water. Surprise your child one afternoon with a box of dirty animals, cars or people. Fill up the sink, a plastic container or the actual tub and set them up a sponge that’s just the right size (cut in half for their small hands) and wash away.
  1. Change up your puzzle routines: make puzzles more interesting by

- hiding pieces around the room first. Give direction clues as your child tries finding the many pieces (“Oooh you’re very close, look under the rug”). Take turns and let your children do the hiding and telling too.

- completing puzzles outside of their given tray or container. Simply try the puzzle on the table or floor, without the edges or matching pieces underneath to aid you. See if your children find this challenge entertaining (for some reason, they usually do).

- adding a game or story once the puzzle is finished. Complete the puzzle, then play guessing games (I Spy something red in the puzzle or Look at this puzzle, it has a food I don’t like to eat. Who can guess it?). For stories, if there are characters or animals in the puzzles, use funny voices together and remove the pieces to create a whole new world for them (“One day this little sheep wanted to see what was outside the farm. So she….”).

  1. Gather up baby dolls, superhero guys or vehicles: collect whatever items your child has plenty of and create a new play scenario: have a tea party with the baby dolls, build a jail for the superhero bad guys, make a pretend car wash for the vehicles and then play on!

To quote someone who knew plenty about children, Mr. Rogers has said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” So as you step away from your phone, laptop or tablet, I hope you play with your children and those dusty old toys.

Thanks as always for reading. Till the next post, take care.


Vanessa D’Auria is a licensed speech-language pathologist providing home-based services in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. For more information about Vanessa, visit or to ask speech/language questions, email directly at


Photo: Land of Nod

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