Tag Archives: taped toys

Baby Play: Squiqz

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

In most of my baby play posts, I talk about items that are easy and relatively cheap to replicate, often with items found around the house or at Dollar Tree. I love using play items like cereal boxes and straws and taped toys because they provide parents with ideas that they can easily recreate on their own and remind everyone that baby toys don’t have to be super expensive.

However, if a library has the budget, it can also be nice to provide some items that cost money too. For more affluent parents, you are providing them an opportunity to test out some baby items before making the decision to purchase something. For those families with less funds, you are giving their little ones an opportunity to interact with a type of toy they may not be able to experience at home.

One of my coworkers came across Squiqz when visiting family. These “fun little suckers” (the actual slogan) are essentially flexible, brightly colored building tools with suction cups. A standard collection comes with eight different designs, most of which involve at least two suction cups. They stick to each other and most surfaces, including windows, mirrors, and cookie sheets, never leaving a residue behind.

These tools are a fascinating texture for little hands (and mouths). Made of BPA-free, latex-free silicone, they easily survive the chewing that always takes place during baby play time. The smallest babies just love exploring their shapes with their hands and mouths. Slightly older babies (8-18 months) are developing the fine motor skills to be able to stick these individually to a flat surface and to pull them off afterwards (often more challenging). Older toddlers can start to build structures by sticking them together, as their finger muscles get stronger.

Recommended Purchases

Fat Brain Toys Original Squigz Deluxe 50 Piece Set – Suction Construction Bath Toys for Ages 3 to 8

Price: $50 for 50 piece set (more price and size options available)

Available At: Amazon, Target, Walmart

Items to Extend Play:

  • Cookie Sheets (Dollar Tree)
  • Baby-Safe Mirrors

Possible Future Purchases:

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • What does it feel like?
  • What color is the Squig?
  • Can you make it stick to the window?
  • How many do you have?
  • What can you do to get the Squigz off the cookie sheet?
  • What happens if the Squigz get wet?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Adhere
Bendy
Build
Flexible
Glue

Peel
Press
Pressure
Pull
Stick

Stretch
Suckers
Suction
Unsteady
Wobbly

Baby Play: Play Mats

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

In most of my baby play posts, I talk about items that are easy and relatively cheap to replicate, often with items found around the house or at Dollar Tree. I love using play items like cereal boxes and straws and taped toys because they provide parents with ideas that they can easily recreate on their own and remind everyone that baby toys don’t have to be super expensive.

However, if a library has the budget, it can also be nice to provide some of those more expensive play items. For more affluent parents, you are providing them an opportunity to test out some baby items before making the decision to purchase something. For those families with less funds, you are giving their little ones an opportunity to interact with a type of toy they may not be able to experience at home.

Play mats and soft climbing and building blocks are perfect examples of more pricey baby play equipment that may not be ideal for many homes. In addition to being expensive, these take up a lot of room (storage is a definite consideration for a library as well).

Due to the size of these items, babies interact with these tools differently than they do with many of the make-at-home play ideas. Those make-at-home activities almost always focus on fine-motor skills and sensory exploration; play mats and equipment help develop large gross motor skills, for crawlers, wobblers, and walkers.

Recommended Purchases

Play mats and equipment are not cheap–a good collection could cost your library $200+. However, for our library, these items have become a staple in all of our baby storytimes. The mats and climbing cubes are used 2-4 times a week, with at least 10-15 babies interacting with the equipment per storytime play session. Since purchasing our set late last year, these tools have been used in at least 100 programs, including weekly storytimes, preschool and school-age programs (as parts of obstacle courses), and special baby and toddler programming.

IKEA PLUFSIG Folding gym mat

PLUFSIG Folding gym mat, green, 30 3/4×72 7/8 “ – $34.99
https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/plufsig-folding-gym-mat-green-90278927/

My coworker found these fantastic folding gym mats at IKEA. They fold up to a reasonable size (18″ W x 31″ L x 5″ D), allowing us to stack them on top of each other in our storytime cupboards. We wipe them clean each week.

BestMassage Gymnastics Mat Gym Mat Tumbling Mat 4 Pannel Foldding Gymnastic Tumbling Mat – $78.99
http://amzn.com/B00IESHCN8

If you aren’t near an IKEA or are looking for something a little bigger, these mats may work for you. Keep in mind that they are larger (they fold to 24″ W x 48″ L x 8″ D), and they cost twice as much per mat as the IKEA mats.

They are thicker mats, providing more support on hard floors. They will cover a larger area. They can also be wiped clean.

ECR4Kids SoftZone Foam Big Building Blocks – $79.99
http://amzn.com/004ZAITPO

We currently own one set of these foam building blocks. These are great for baby play, as older babies are able to stack the blocks into towers (that aren’t too heavy when they inevitably fall onto another baby), and younger babies are able to crawl onto these and sometimes pull themselves into a sitting or standing position using the blocks.

Just like the mats, these wipe clean easily.

Milliard Soft Foam Toddler Stairs and Ramp Climber Gym Toy – $72.99
http://amzn.com/B0788XVB6G

The exact ramp and stair set that we currently use isn’t available, but this set is very similar and would be a great addition to a set of soft climbing equipment. Our ramp and stair set is much more popular than the building blocks, as babies immediately see the stairs as a crawling or walking challenge. Our ramp has often turned into the setting of various science experiments with babies rolling balls and wheeled vehicles down its smooth surface.

Based on the description, this set also has a bottom strip that allows you to connect the stairs to the ramp. Our set does not have that option, and we have always used them as two pieces (though often positioned them like in the above picture).

These can also be wiped clean.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • What can you build with the blocks?
  • Can you walk up the steps?
  • How far can you throw the block?
  • Can you stand on top of the ramp?
  • How fast can you make a tower?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Above
Balance
Behind
Big
Climb
Down

In Front
Jump
Giant
Over
Ramp
Short

Slide
Slope
Slow
Small
Towering
Up

Baby Play: Taped Toys

After each of my baby storytimes, I include a Discovery Time free-play session that encourages parents to talk to one another and to interact with their children. I include a variety of fine motor, gross motor, and sensory activities that appeal to 0-2-year-olds.

Babies love a challenge. Making their regular favorite items just the smallest amount harder to access can be just enough to serve as an interesting distraction and build strong finger muscles needed for writing when they are older.

This is a very simple (and very cheap) project that just requires a little time ahead of a storytime to prepare. Use masking tape to tape baby-safe toys or household items to a hard surface. Favorite toys, instruments used in storytime, or bright, colorful items help make this a more appealing activity.

How to Make

Materials: hard surface (preferably not going to peel when tape is pulled off), masking tape, baby-safe toys or household objects

Steps:

  • Tape toys to hard surface. Use one long strip of tape per toy (more if working with older kids).

Cost: $0-5

  • Masking Tape
  • Hard Surface (Cardboard, Tri-Fold Board, Magnet Board, etc.)

Time to Make: 10 minutes

Pro-Tip: While cardboard is normally much easier to access, our department magnet/dry erase board, that we use for outreach, doesn’t show the damage of having masking tape peeled off repeatedly.

Conversation Starters

Start conversations as babies play with this tool by asking questions like:

  • What toys do you see?
  • What color is that toy?
  • How can you get the toy off the board?
  • What does the tape feel like?
  • Does the toy make a sound?
  • What does the toy fee like?

Stretch Vocabulary

When talking with little ones, use big words and small words. The more new words a child hears, the larger their vocabulary will be when they start to learn to read.

Consider using some of the following vocabulary words when using this activity:

Adhesive
Crumple
Flexible
Hard
Jerk
Lift

Pick
Poke
Pry
Pull
Remove
Reuse

Rip
Soft
Sticky
Stuck
Thin
Tug