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Australia is our backyard and nature is our playground, but I do believe having a small collection of toys is beneficial amongst the adventures.
The right, age-appropriate toys can play an important role in the development of kids and provide valuable skills and lessons.While travelling brings about space limitations, less is better even when not travelling, and it's more practical to choose toys that provide open-ended play or have multiple uses. Too many choices can prevent kids from fully developing their gift of imagination and igniting their natural senses of creativity.
Fewer toys help kids develop longer attention spans and build stronger social skills.
When deciding which toys you should take, if any, I recommend watching which ones your children interact with the most, which ones can be played with the longest and which ones get your child thinking. Also try taking some away and see if they even notice.
Alternatively, here is a list of toys we have in our caravan, with some examples of other options / older alternatives. We try to avoid toys that can't go in the bath, like battery operated, or are easily breakable.
During the newborn stage we had an Interactive Play Mat, hand held rattles, a baby mirror, sensory balls, a pop-up toy and pram toys. Small but effective in that crucial early stage of development and brain stimulation.
As our Cubs got older their Play Mat was replaced with a Play & Learn Activity Table and then a First Steps Walker. We were gifted these from Kmart and then paid them forward through facebook once the girls no longer used them. The mat folded up and the legs were easily removed from the table and walker for easier storage.
Now travelling with a 3year old and 1.5year old twins; our collection consists of:
Bikes & Scooters
We've always encouraged our Cubs to ride as much as possible because, not only is it fun and free, it improves coordination and balance while building confidence.
Keira received a trike for her 1st Birthday and the scooter for her 2nd Birthday. She's not as interested in the scooter but it doesn't take up too much space and she will go for a ride every now and then, especially if Cam or I go with her on our scooter. As an early 3rd Birthday present Keira received a balance bike, an upgrade from the trike which was given to our twins, who also received a 2nd trike on their 1st Birthday so they didn't have to share.
We have Coloured Sensory Balls (originally a 6 pack but we've lost some), 3 x Nobby Balls and a Football. Other options for older kids, that won't take up much room, include a frisbee, a vortex or phlat ball.
We bought the sensory balls when our Cubs were babies because they develop fine motor skills and encourage different levels of interactive play - hold it, pick it up, roll it, throw it and catch it - which is still fun and effective. They also came in 6 different colours so were great when our Cubs started learning colours (multi-use).
We've added Nobby Balls, now the girls are a bit older, as they are super bouncy and the spikes help with grip. We have a lot of fun throwing and kicking the balls around.
The football was more for us but our Cubs are starting to become interested. It's great for older kids because the bounce can be unpredictable so develops agility and coordination.
We were given a set of big building blocks, which is more suitable for younger kids. Older kids might be more interested in Lego or more complex construction sets.
Blocks are great for both outside and inside play. Our girls love building rockets, castles, boats or whatever their imaginations create. Blocks teach hand eye coordination, develop fine motor skills and enhance logistical thinking. My favourite is how our kids learn the valuable lesson that if it collapses / falls apart (or destroyed by a sister) you can re-build.
We have a couple of sets and have started to replace the cheap ones that break too easily with stronger ones.
Like most kids, our girls love to dig. Hours of entertainment, fantastic for their development and really encourages creative play. Definitely a must have for us.
We have small matchbox cars and trucks, but I don't disagree with the bigger tonka dump trucks or similar.
Our girls love pushing them around the dirt or across the caravan floor. They hardly take up space and encourage hand eye coordination, fine motor skills and imaginative play.
We bought a Party Drum Kit from Kmart which stores 2 x shakers, 1 x tambourine, 1 x trumpet inside the drum with 2 x drumsticks.
It took us a while to find a good set. Our girls love music and I wanted them to enjoy making music but being in a confined space we really didn't want anything too loud, and I'm sure our neighbours are thankful. The set from Kmart is soft sounding but we still put it in the top cupboard until mid-morning, just in case.
7. Soft Toys / Dolls / Figurines
Each girl has a soft toy, given to them from a loved one and an extra we picked up along the way. Dolls and figurines are also good options.
Keira has a Tasmanian Devil from Symbio Wildlife and our twins have a Turtle each from Ingenia Cairns Coconut. Soft toys are cuddly, offer comfort and provide security.
I have noticed the girls carry them when they are having an off-day. They encourage creative play through role playing as well as valued qualities such as empathy, affection and bonding.
8. Creative Arts Box
We have a small storage container for story books, colouring books, pencils, water paint books, paint brushes, a scrapbook and stickers.
We only keep a small collection and only replace the books once fully finished. Family often send the girls new books and stickers in the post as gifts. Sometimes we buy art paint but usually stick with water painting books, less to clean up.
After meeting other families I think we are in the middle for the amount of toys we have.
The amount of room you have available definitely plays a big role so remember there are also options like, if you are staying somewhere for a while, borrow toys from a toy library and then give them back when you leave or find local play groups and join them for a day.
We do enjoy our play sessions and always encourage other kids to come play too so if you see us on the road come say Hi and hopefully Keira's not in one of her "that's mine" moods.
Feel free to message us if you have any questions.