Revamping a DIY Sorting and Counting Toy
As T-Bird is getting older and has now thoroughly mastered the challenges of our DIY baby toy, the Hoop Tree, I wanted to spice things up a bit by injecting some colour and adding a colour matching/sorting game element. I considered painting the hoops and branches, but that would have been far to much work. Being lazy, I went for a quick ‘n’ dirty fix instead. We already have some larger wooden rings decorated with trailing ribbons, so, to make these a little different, this time I went with washi tape
The washi tape hoop tree DIY baby toy
This DIY baby toy is really, really easy to make – I just wrapped different coloured tape onto each branch, then added strips of the same coloured tape to the rings so that these can be matched up to the branches. Choice of tape depended what I had in my stash – this is why only some colours have a variety of patterns and also why there is, alas, no orange (I had to substitute pink!) which has slightly ruined my intended rainbow.
From a sensory point of view, the washi tape has a great texture – slightly waxy to the touch – which also makes it stick out at funny angles that create lovely shapes on the tree. As the strips are two lengths stuck together (sticky sides in), it’s also pretty tough – much more resistant to tearing or creasing than I thought it would be.
Opportunities for Play and Learning
While colour matching is the most obvious way to use to the Hoop Tree, I also wanted to incorporate some additional play and development opportunities, so I made some deliberate design choices when putting it all together.
- One colour per branch, with a matching set of five rings. Some of the rings in each set are different shades of that colour, and/or different patterns. This gives me the chance to talk to T-Bird about “darker”/”lighter”, or “spots”/”stripes”/”zigzags” while we play.
- There are a different number of washi strips on each ring in a set, ranging from one strip to five. At the moment, we’re working on counting the strips and practicing numbers. Later, we’ll be trying to lay a set of rings out in number order.
- I wanted to have five rings in each set to allow practice of basic addition and subtraction in units of ten. Completely above T-Bird’s head right now, but perfect for big brother G-Man.
- The washi strips are deliberately cut to different lengths. T-Bird already gets the idea of “big” and “small”, so now I want to work on “longer” and “shorter”as well.
Using washi tape was much quicker and easier than painting with child-safe paint (ribbon would be a great alternative too, though) and as it is easily removable means I can change it up again later for different activities. As a DIY toy, it has so many possibilities. One other thing I’d like to do is make paper green leaves, pink and white blossom, rosy apples and autumnal-coloured leaves to decorate the hoops, to give us an opportunity to talk about the seasons and also make the hoop tree into a prop for further imaginative play. For G-Man, we’ll put letter labels on the hoops for a spelling challenge. And if all else fails, we may even take it down to the toy kitchen and hang a few mugs on it!
A note about safety. Play with everyday non-toy objects has widely recognised benefits for young children, however these kinds of activities should always be closely supervised. Use common sense to decide what you are comfortable letting your child handle, and decide for yourself what could be a hazard.
Where to buy Washi Tape
Want to get Washi-d up yourself? If you want to make this DIY baby toy for your child, check out these supplies on Amazon. These are affiliate links, which means that if you click through and buy, I will receive a small amount towards the running of this website – thank you for your support!
In need of a hoop tree to washi-up? This cheap and cheerful mug tree from KitchenCraft is perfect for the job, with slightly tilted and stoppered branches to stop things sliding off.
Get yourself some hoops to go with that! These unvarnished wood rings could be painted or stained, or indeed washi’d! The hoops don’t have to be wooden ones though – check out my original hoop tree post for other ideas.
How many colours?! Washi tape comes in quite small rolls, and is often – as here – fairly narrow, so check dimensions before you buy to make sure it will work for you. This set of forty plain rolls has more than enough colour choice though!
Prefer a little pattern? This set of twenty patterned wide rolls offers a great variety – and there are several options to choose from (including nice, wide plain colours too)
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