Affordable and Engaging Building Toys and Provocations

Simple is best. My mom and my grandma always swore by it. Now I believe it!

Despite "knowing" this for my life (aka being told this) it has taken years for me to fully embrace a simplistic understanding of play. My children grew up with us not always ever getting the "latest and greatest" but they were never lacking a variety of toys, often colourful and plastic.

Mostly these experiences were thanks to great local thrift stores and a mom who was never willing to pay full price for anything! lol


As I have delved deeper and deeper into understanding play, watched and learned along with them,

I have developed a deeper appreciation for simple items. I see the richer experiences and their imagination grow. As a result, I prefer open-ended activities which allow children to decide where to take their play.

My students have shown me their love for all things simple.

One of our biggest hits has simply been cardboard roads with real photos of our local community.

They can take any shape, design and students can add to their play in an unlimited way.

This is the aftermath of an afternoon of creative building. 

You can see a lake in the background, a green carpet as the zoo in the foreground and the "remains" of roads where there were different buildings from our community. There were six students who collaborated to make this. 

I wish I had a photo of what it actually looked like. It was amazing.

I printed each photo twice, put them back to back to each other and then laminated them together.

Super easy, affordable and relatable for the students in my class as it is relevant to their personal lives.

Ideas for pictures in your community to laminate:

aerial view of an airport
apartment buildings 
aquarium museums
baseball field
car wash business
car dealerships
coffee shops
CN Tower
dollar store
farmers market
fast food chains
fire station
football field
gas stations
grocery stores
Home Depot
hotels or motels
ice rink
Lego store
movie theatres
Niagara Falls
pet stores
police station
race track
random houses in the community
aerial view of a ski hill
soccer fields
swimming pool
train station
Toys R Us

No more worrying about which expensive toy is going to be the new "thing" in my classroom.

A simple gift for which I am grateful for!

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