Packing up the toys
Packing up time can be turned into a fun learning experience when you and your child share the task together. Talk about where each toy belongs before you put it away, so that your child is able to predict where to place items.
We have lots of different toys to pack away. We can put the blocks in the basket and the cars in the bucket. We can roll up the car mat and pop it behind the toy box.
Turn the task into a game by setting some challenges.
How many handfuls do you think it will take to fill the box? Let’s count together. What colour will we pack away first? OK - can you find all the blue blocks? Now we will find all the cars. What colour cars do you want to find?
Materials you will need
Skills this activity improves
Why does this matter?
Packing away toys with your child provides a great opportunity to talk about maths and numeracy concepts such as sequencing, planning and sorting. Your child will be practicing listening skills as they follow your directions.
What does this lead to?
Packing up provides many opportunities to sort, count, classify and order. When your child makes choices about where objects go they will understand that like objects go together.
Language to use
- sort, group, same, different
- colour, shape, texture
- first, last, next, second, after, now, finished
- full, empty, nearly
- in, out
- big, little
Questions to use
- Which should we do first?
- How many handfuls do you think it will take to fill the box? Let’s count together.
- What colour shall we pack away first?
- Can you find all the blue blocks?
- Where does this go?
- Let’s do it together.
- You do the playdough, I'll do the cutters.
- I will find three blue cars, can you find two yellow ones?
- When it is time to pack up be specific as to what the task involves so that it does not become too difficult. Say 'put away the blocks' instead of 'put away the toys'.
- Have a place for each item so that packing up becomes easier.
- Remember it is important to talk to your child in your home language.
- Play some music and see how much you can pack away before the song or piece of music finishes.
- Make a visual guide of how to pack away the toys using photos or labels.
Variation by age
Birth to two year olds
- Talk with your child about what you are doing as you pack away the toys. Even babies will begin to understand that what you are doing is a routine.
- Sing a packing up song.
Three to five year olds
- Encourage your child to draw pictures to stick on the toy boxes so that they know how to help when packing up the toys.
- Use a timer and set a simple packing up challenge. Who can finish the task quicker? How much can you pack up in one minute?
- Sing a packing up song and change the words to fit what you are doing. This is the way we pack up Jane's dolls, pack up Jane's dolls, pack up Jane's dolls...