Toys Every Child Care Center Needs
Toys are an essential part of any child care center. You don’t need to buy the latest gadgets for kids in your classroom to have fun. In fact, the more simple the toys, the more opportunities your kids have to be imaginative and create their own world!
It’s important to match the toys you get with the type of children your child care center will be taking care of. If you’re primarily caring for infants, you shouldn’t give them toys that pose a choking hazard like Legos. And if you’re taking care of older kids, you need to buy toys that will keep them engaged and prepare them for preschool and elementary school.
Keep in mind that not all of the toys in this article will be suitable for every age. Make sure you have a wide variety of age-appropriate toys if your child care center will serve multiple age ranges. And be sure to never leave children unattended. Here are some of our favorite essential toys for daycare centers that would be a great addition to any center.
Arts & Crafts
Arts and crafts time at your child care center can be a fun way to keep kids occupied during the day while also helping to develop their fine motor skills, problem solve, and express their creativity. Plus, it’s always fun to see kids show off their project to their parents during pickup. For daycares, you’ll always want to have some basic art supplies on hand since you never know when that creative spark will hit.
Make sure you have aprons on hand to keep everyone’s clothes from getting dirty, as well as lots of cleaning supplies in case something gets spilled (and it probably will!) Some basic arts and crafts supplies you should have ready include:
- Colorful construction paper
- Safety scissors
- Glue (both glue sticks and bottles)
- Water-soluble paints
- Different sizes paint brushes
- Glitter (use at your own discretion!)
- Art easel
- Newspaper (to cover surfaces for messy projects)
Toys To Develop Fine Motor Skills
Being able to write, eat, use scissors, get dressed, and hold objects all require using fine motor skills. Developing these movements at a young age will prepare young kids for more advanced skills as they grow older. You can use fun toys and activities at your daycare to encourage young children to hone this skill naturally. Here are some fun toys that can help young kids at your center develop fine motor skills:
- Wood building blocks
- Small foam balls
- Dolls and other pretend play items
- Toy cars
- Ride-on cars
- Sensory bins with rice, water beads, sand, etc.
Some daycare centers provide educational services in addition to keeping children safe while their parents are gone for the day. These formative years are a great time to teach basic skills such as letters, numbers, interpersonal skills, and even foreign languages! More and more parents are looking for daycares that include a learning curriculum, so you’ll have a leg up on your competition if you provide these services. Since kids at this age shouldn’t sit in a desk all day, toys can be a natural addition to your teaching curriculum and keep kids engaged during lessons.
Every daycare should have books available for every reading level (and for story time!) You can often get children’s books for cheap at second hand stores and scholastic book clubs. Make sure you have a comfy area at your center with a soft rug and several pillows for a nice reading nook. Other educational toys you should have at your center include:
- Musical instruments like drums and whistles
- Painting and drawing supplies
- Sensory toys
Toys For Outdoor Play
Every kid loves to play outdoors. Not only does playing outside promote physical activity, it helps younger kids practice their motor skills, learn how to play well in groups and share toys, and promotes creativity. Setting aside time at your daycare for unstructured play time outside of the classroom will also help get rid of all that extra energy that gets pent up when kids are stuck inside all day.
If you have an outdoor play area at your center with a fence already installed, perfect! But if you’re running your daycare from your home, you need to make sure you have a fence to keep kids from running out into the street. Outdoor toys should be durable and easy to clean. If possible, have separate toys for inside and outside play to keep any dirt or other debris outside as much as possible. Try to have some of these basic outdoor toys at your daycare center:
- Swing sets
- Bubbles (only use with adult supervision)
- Biodegradable chalk
- Sand and water tables
- Sand toys (plastic shovels, buckets, castle molds, etc.)
- Basketball hoop and basketballs
- Hula hoops
Keeping Your Child Care Toys Clean
Since germs and viruses can live on surfaces for several days, your center needs to regularly clean your classroom’s toys today to prevent the spread of germs and limit illnesses. Many parents are still wary of COVID-19, so having a regular disinfecting schedule can help keep your customers at ease. Toys that have been placed in a child’s mouth or that have been contaminated by other bodily fluids need to be thoroughly cleaned before the kids play with them again. Make sure to follow these steps to properly sanitize your classroom toys:
- Clean with water and detergent
- Sanitize with EPA-registered disinfectant
- Rinse again
- Air dry the toy