Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Farm Yard and Dino Land Play Sets

may  2010 018

I’ve been on a mission lately to increase M’s interest in non-battery-operated toys.  It’s been a tough job.  I’m not sure how it happened that he became so addicted to toys that “do something”, I only know that it was a turn for the worse.  After receiving several hand-me-down toys from cousins in January, all of which are battery operated, he just hasn’t been as interested in expending any energy or imagination when playing.  He will push buttons and watch toys light up, make sounds, and move, and somehow being entertained has become more pleasant than actually playing.

I could go on and on about this topic, but I will save it for another post, another time.

In an effort to engage his imagination and creativity in play again, I (very)  quickly put together some play sets for him using fabric I’ve had lying around in my sewing cart for ages. 

I’ve mentioned in other posts that I’ve been trying to have something interesting waiting for him when he wakes in the mornings so I don’t have to hear any whining before my first cup of coffee. ;)  Often, it’s something like playdough or a new sensory bin, but one evening I made a farm playland for him and had it ready the following morning.  I included his farm animals and barn (Target) and some Duplo blocks.

It started off like this:may  2010 001

Then became this:may  2010 004

And eventually ended up like this:may  2010 005 He had gotten out more blocks, a zoo, a truck, and some books and was sitting in the middle of his farm, reading books to a little plastic duck.  Hello, imagination! :)  And I realized something a bit bigger might be better.  So, off we went to the fabric store.

I purchased a yard of green fleece, and put it on the floor when we got home.  He spent 45 minutes, I kid you not, mowing the green fleece grass with a little toy tractor.

I cut a larger pond out of some blue fabric from my stash, and we used the other pieces I’d had for the smaller version to make more hills ( by putting fabric over an upside down bowl, or over large blocks), and a chicken yard.   

I wish I had a better picture than this… in fact I think M may have taken this picture:may  2010 038 but you get the idea.  He loves his new farm yard! 

I should mention that none of the fabric has been hemmed or sewn together.  I simply grabbed what I wanted and cut it to roughly the size and shape I needed for a pond or hill or dirt field.  I’m not worried about pieces unraveling - fleece doesn’t unravel, and the other pieces were just leftover scraps from old projects.  This way he can rearrange the layout of his farm if he wants to.

This was such an enormous success that the following week I used the same green fleece, added some new pieces, and made a dino land for him:may  2010 028

There’s a cave (a small crate from Dollar Tree turned on its side with brown fabric on the floor and covered with some other green fleece):may  2010 023

And a volcano (note the dino skeleton at the base of the mountain, hee hee):may  2010 027 

This was a huge success too, and M had a lot of fun playing with it.  It was definitely worth the 15 minutes it took me to cut fabric and put it all together for him. 

I won’t say it cured him of his preference for toys that “do something”, but it did help him see how much fun a little imagination can be!  Baby steps, right? ;)

Have a beautiful day! :)


  1. This is a fabulous idea! We did something similar with smaller pieces of fabric last winter, but I think my kids would really enjoy having a sheet of green fleece, and the larger pieces of fabric allow for a lot more flexibility in what you make!

  2. This is wonderful! I really like how you gave him simple, but very fun play materials and he made a very elaborate world.

    When our oldest was a toddler, I bought him a non battery operated large fire truck for Christmas one year. He kept turning it over and over...looking for the "On" button!

  3. I love when people create play areas like that. It makes me want to do it, but maybe soon I'll get off my butt and do it.
    Have you ever checked out 5 Orange Potatoes? She occasionally puts up the play areas she makes, and they're of a similar idea.

  4. I love when kids can use their imagination, not have a toy do it for them! Looks like a lot of fun!

  5. It looks like he had so much fun and im sure it kept his attn longer that a battery toy. What a great thing to include on your blog

  6. ok.. so I might sound a little dumb.. but I seriously didn't make the connection w/ the toys that do things and the lack of imagination until just now. But you are right. When those toys aren't around Sammy invents things to do! Thank you for the fun ideas and the encouragement to creating something fun to do :-)


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