In our school day schedule I always make time for free play. The children are allowed to play with any of the learning toys that I have placed out for them. I will usually pick up to 4 and change them around often. Letting them make the choice gives them the independence they want and we know they are making good choices.
Manipulatives are wonderful for free play because they can use them to build, to count, make shapes, learn colors, make patterns and so much more. My children like the 50 Counting Bears with 5 Cups, it allows them to sort and of course use their imagination while they use them as figurines. They also enjoy using Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards. Placing the geometric shapes on the pictures is great for improving fine motor.
Another ideal free play activity is giant floor puzzles. Your child will be so proud of themselves when they see this large picture that they have created. There are many brands and pictures to choose from. I like to go along with what theme we are using for the week so we have the Melissa & Doug Solar System 48 pcs Floor Puzzle out now and the Melissa & Doug Alphabet Express Floor Puzzle is always an option.
Memory games are very inexpensive or can be made at home. I have a few different memory games but the kids always tend to want to play the ones that have their favorite characters on them. Disney Classic Characters Matching Game is a wonderful choice and this will help build their memory and taking turns with others if you have more then one child you are teaching.
Kids Construction Table Duplo & Lego Compatible w/ 2 Chairs (VIEW ALL PHOTOS) is fabulous for kids to create on and when their free play is up, they do not have to take apart their items that they just worked so hard to build. Duplos are large and come in many different themes. We use new packs of duplos as rewards, they have large sets and small. Check out this beginner set LEGO DUPLO 10572 Creative Play All-in-One-Box-of-Fun or this smaller set LEGO DUPLO Creative Play 10573 Creative Animals both great for your little ones!
I think most toys can be used as an educational device so be creative and let your child’s mind soar!