Free the Toys

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In my experience, toddlers love tape (tearing it, sticking it on things, ripping it back up again), and here’s a way to give purpose to all that ripping: trap small toys in the compartments of a muffin tin, then cover over with painter’s tape. Then tell your toddler it’s time to free the toys!

You can use just about any small toy for this game. I used a mix of Veronika’s Calico Critters and Duplo figures. Counting bears would also be great, as suggested on the blog Days with Grey, or tiny Shopkins figures if you’re using a mini muffin tin.

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I placed one toy in each compartment and then covered with about 6 pieces of overlapping tape. I wanted to leave some gaps so Veronika would see that there was a toy inside, but consider making a complete cover of tape for older toddlers or preschoolers. Or, make only a few lines of tape for older kids, but have them use scissors instead of their hands!

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Veronika quickly proved adept at ripping up the tape and even at getting the sticky tape off her fingers when it momentarily got stuck.

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She delighted in discovering who was in each compartment, calling out the names she has for them like Pajama Bunny and Crawler Bunny.

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When she was done, she immediately asked for a repeat: “Let’s trap them again!” I repeated the process, and this time she was able to replace some of the tape herself after, soon inventing a game that involved the bunnies taking a “bath” in the little compartments.

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It wasn’t long before she wanted a third round! This time she wanted to trap her fireman toys and I switched it up by making long lines of tape instead of trapping each toy individually.

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She wasn’t as pleased with this version, but she did puzzle out how to pull up the long strands, after a little deliberation.

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I can unequivocally say that this is a fantastic way to keep a child busy, occupying Veronika’s attention far longer than most games.