Home-based Early Learning Program

Added Advantage 

Serving London, Ontario 

Suggested Ideas

 Adding open-ended materials into your program can be a very easy, cost effective way to engage and entertain children for hours! Combining or adding to materials from time to time can help children take materials in a new direction or create new theories or strategies for use.

It also takes a little bit of creativity as well as careful consideration around safety, level of supervision required, and knowledge of your children's developmental needs and abilities.

This is just a starting list of materials that I regularly collect for my program:

  • Variety colored and white dice in all sizes
  • Poker chips in variety of colors
  • Varied magnet materials – Dollar Store
  • Sink grid mats with little gems and square materials
  • Varied containers that promote sorting – lazy Susan’s, ice cube trays, deviled egg trays, etc.
  • A big bins of paper clips with a gimp loom made over it
  • 1000’s of marbles in a bin with various materials added to it
  • Bins of natural river stones and glass gems for use in dramatic or block areas
  • ‘Tree cookies’ actual tree branches and stumps cut into small discs and smoothed down – make great imaginative food and building materials
  • Old Cameras and binoculars in the classroom
  • Lots of big squares of printed fabric in the classroom
  • Vice-grips, clothes-pins, other fasteners
  • Working Flashlights
  • Clipboards, paper and writing utensils around the room
  • Placing photos of the children onto blocks to inspire play
  • Gift-wrap rolls, p.v.c pipes, plastic dryer venting, poster tube holders, etc.
  • Small magnetic or hand held mirrors set up around the room to provide unique perceptions during play.
  • Variety dull edged glass pieces, leftover mosaic pieces
  • Shiny silver or copper pieces from the hardware store
  • Unique stones or pebbles
  • Small Branches, twigs, pussy willows, pine cones, moss, colorful leaves
  • Potpourri  / Dried flower pedals
  • Collected Shells 
  • Colored gravel stones
  • Household / Decorative glass gems
  • Different colored children’s marbles in varied sizes
  • Any size Buttons
  • Any size Beads (Anything with holes in can be used for lacing/beading even your old beaded car seat cover can be taken apart to re-make into something, old Xmas decorations added to a creation, etc)
  • Odd Wood scraps & shapes
  • Plastic Lids from bottles or cartons
  • Metal Juice-can lids
  • Clear plastic lids from food containers – like Pringles lids
  • Old Fridge Magnets
  • Old Crystal pieces from lamps, chandeliers, etc.
  • Old Glittery Costume Jewelry
  • Wine Corks
  • Metal Bottle / Beer Caps
  • Empty Spools of Thread
  • Fabric and Lace of all textures
  • Variety of textured Paper
  • Shiny foil and cellophane used to wrap soaps, non-nut candies, etc is great for collage work
  • Scraps from your own holiday craft projects
  • Very large clear glass condiment jars (restaurant size pickle or hot pepper jars)
  • Yarn, Gimp, Hemp, Ribbon

The possibilities are endless and the more we collaborate and network the better we co-construct our knowledge and as a result we can offer more creative experiences for the children and ourselves. If you have any different or new ways to use materials please stop by the forum page!