Play and Learning Equipment

To operate a successful family day care service, your physical environment needs to include appropriate resources, toys and play equipment to:

  • Meet the developmental needs of each child
  • Stimulate children's curiosity and interest
  • Support and enrich your program of experiences
  • Promote children's learning

Remember

  • Safety - toys and equipment must be in good repair, with no sharp or rough edges, or damaged in any way. Everything you provide for children must be non-toxic, and washable
  • Remember to check toys and equipment regularly for wear and tear and to discard and replace broken items

Basic Equipment List

The following is a list of the basic equipment required when you first start your business. You will need to add to this on a regular basis, to support your program of experiences which is based on the interests and skills of the children.

Sand and water play

Sand and water are inexpensive play materials, and through this play children develop their imagination and social skills. Include the following:

  • Sand pit or container to hold sand, large enough for four children
  • Spades, scoops, funnels, and a variety of containers and bottles to encourage tipping and pouring
  • Large water container, such as a baby bath or basins
  • Scoops, floating objects, bottles, lids, sponges

Dramatic play

Dramatic play allows children to express themselves and to make sense of their world. Dress-ups and props promote imaginative play and support children's creative expression. Include the following:

  • Dolls - washable and suitable for dressing
  • Dolls clothes, blankets and wraps
  • Kitchen and other household utensils
  • Tools sets - good quality plastic ones
  • Dress ups - hats, capes, bags, shoes, jewellery
  • Cardboard boxes, rugs and blankets for cubbies

Block play

Block play enriches children's creativity and problem solving skills, as well as encouraging hand eye coordination, language skills and logical thinking. Include the following:

  • Set of blocks suitable for several children to play with at the same time
  • Set of light, large blocks suitable for babies and younger toddlers

Manipulative Play

Manipulative play involves the use of hands, muscles, and eyes. It helps to develop coordination and a variety of skills. Include the following:

  • Playdough - easily made at home
  • Cutters, lids and other interesting objects for pressing and rolling dough
  • Threading materials such as very large beads or cotton reels with shoe laces
  • Stacking and nesting toys
  • Posting box - either purchase or make your own
  • Assortment of objects for sorting and categorising, eg beads, buttons, shells
  • Puzzles - an assortment to meet the needs of the children, e.g. some with large knobs for younger children, some simple ones with only a few pieces, and some with more pieces that offer older children a challenge

Music

Musical experiences are fun and can promote physical activity as well as social interaction. Include the following:

  • Musical instruments e.g. shakers, bells, tapping sticks
  • A variety of musical CD's to expose children to different styles of music, such as classical music, country, jazz, cultural

Books

Reading with children stimulates their imagination and helps to develop concentration. Help children to develop a life-long love of books by including:

  • A selection of books suitable for all ages of children to use
  • Some board-books suitable for babies
  • A selection of books for adults to read with children

Outside Play

Outside play is important for promoting physically active play, coordination and social interactions. Include the following:

  • Variety of different size balls
  • Ride on toys such as bikes or scoot alongs
  • Push-pull toys such as lawn mowers, dolls prams
  • Boxes or large blocks for construction
  • Natural resources such as leaves, nuts, stones and shells for discovery play

Art and Craft

Art and craft helps to develop fine motor skills, concentration and provides a creative outlet for children. Include the following:

  • Scissors for children to use to cut paper
  • A variety of drawing materials including, crayons, pencils, felt pens
  • Glue, brushes, and a variety of collage materials such as, coloured paper, fabric, patty pans, leaves, little twigs
  • Paint and paint brushes, large paper for children to paint on

Child size furniture

As well as the items listed that encourage children's play and learning, other furniture items also support the children's program. The following are also required:

  • Book shelves or storage units so children can easily access books and other play items
  • Table and chairs suitable for four young children to use at meal times and suitable for using for activities such as painting and gluing
  • Soft furnishings such as cushions, mats etc for children to sit on
  • Child-size mattresses and appropriate bedding for nap times

After 6 months as an educator

Additional toys and equipment need to be added such as:

  • Hand puppets and finger puppets
  • Figures and accessories for block play such as, people, animals, fences, signs
  • Interlocking toys such as, train with tracks, duplo, waffle blocks etc
  • Additional puzzles appropriate to the age of the children in care

It is also expected that you will continue to build onto your toys and equipment to enable children to make choices, stimulate their curiosity, and enhance their learning.

Remember

Not everything you purchase has to be new:

  • Take advantage of garage sales, car boot sales, local markets or friends and family. Let everyone know you are in need of good quality toys
  • You could also make a lot of equipment yourself, such as scoops and funnels from bottles, blocks from milk cartons covered with contact etc, and don't forget large cardboard boxes for climbing in and out
  • Second-hand shops can be treasure troves - you can purchase items very cheaply such as: dress-ups, hats, bags, jewellery etc and you can often buy pots and pans and cooking utensils to put into your sandpit
  • Look in your linen cupboard for table cloths and pillow cases to use for dolls blankets. Recycle old curtains, doona covers and sheets to use as tents and picnic blankets