When I was a preschool teacher many years ago I would use one toy in many different ways. This was for several reasons. One, it was economic. Two, it encouraged children to try new experiences. Three, it added variety to the play. Four, toys used in different settings enhance different skills. This is not brilliant in any manner. Children do this naturally. If you give a child a small cardboard box it may become a mouse house or a treasure chest or a boat or decorated like aflower. Many counting toys for 2 year olds can be versatile in this way.
My favourite counting toy for 2 years olds is the set of small colored plastic bears such as Skoolzy.com Counting Bears with Sorting Cups. I would put these bears on a table with a set of wooden blocks. Toddlers would soon be matching the color of the bears to the blocks. They would stack a bear on a block practicing one to one correspondence. They may even make a fort of blocks and count the bears as they are placed in the perimeter.
Another fun activity and a good use for counting toys for 2 yearolds is to place the cups and bears in the water table. Often I would also color the water with food coloring for added enticement. As well as encouraging counting skills toddlers are learning to pour, measure and estimate. Add some funnels and measuring cups for extra play and learning.
Playing with playdough and the counting bears and cups is a very tactile experience. Fine motor skills are used to flatten out the dough, roll it into balls and create shapes. This is a very open ended activity encouraging imagination and creativity. Children use the bears and cups as a tool to flatten the dough. They may match balls of dough to the bears and sort them into the cups. Counting toys for two year olds are certainly adaptable.
Of course, any counting toy for two year olds can be used in these ways. Large wooden colored beads were a favourite to use in the kitchen play area. Pegs from pegboards were used with trucks and construction toys. As a preschool teacher I think I had as much fun as the children when coming up with creative play activities.
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