Toys and Play Materials
Toddlers are still in the sensorimotor stage of development, meaning that they often explore materials with their mouths. Do not provide any toys in your toddler classroom that may be a choking hazard. Check toys often for pieces that may be missing or broken, and discard or fix these items as soon as possible.
Library: Provide board books and bathtub books for toddlers to explore on their own. Offer comfortable places to sit, such as beanbags, in the library area. This is also a good place to put stuffed animals and a few sturdy pillows.
Dramatic Play: Toddlers enjoy imitating adult behaviors. Dramatic play equipment should be basic and include pretend telephones, dishes, sturdy baby dolls, simple dress up clothes that toddlers can put on and off by themselves, and play food.
Manipulatives: A large part of a toddler's day includes filling and dumping and transporting toys. For this reason, fine motor manipulatives should be put in baskets or easily transportable buckets. Large duplo blocks, stacking rings, and three piece knob puzzles are perfect for this age.
Blocks: A simple block center should contain soft foam blocks, large cars and trucks, plastic animals and people. Heavy unit blocks are not appropriate for toddlers yet because of their weight and size, but large foam blocks or cardboard blocks are perfect for this age group.
Sensory: Sensory play is extremely important for toddlers. Toddlers in the sensorimotor stage of development learn by touching, tasting, and smelling. A sensory table, which can be easily cleaned and filled with things such as sand, rice, or water, is appropriate for a toddler classroom if it can be closely monitored. Teachers can also make sensory buckets. Some ideas for sensory buckets include soft scarves, material scraps in a variety of textures such as fake fur, leather, cotton, and corduroy. Sensory buckets can also contain simple musical instruments such as bells and cymbals.
Gross Motor: Toddlers need plenty of room to push, pull, ride and run. Child-sized shopping carts, ride on toys without pedals, and other push toys are all important items to include in your toddler environment.
Before planning a list of equipment needed for a daycare toddler room, be sure to check your state's minimum standards.
"The Right Stuff for Children Birth to Eight: Selecting Play Materials to Support Development"; Martha B. Bronson; 1995