Don't tell the others, but this might be my favorite gift I put together this year. :)
I've started a bit of a tradition of giving Levi a book with homemade toys to go with them. I got the idea pre-Levi when I made a mitten full of animals to go with the book "The Mitten". I love the concept of having a story and tangible ways to make that story come to life through imaginative play. Last year, I made a monkey and drum to go along with one of his favorite books, "Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb".
This year, I had the toy concept before the book. I really wanted to start making Levi some sensory bins (what is a sensory bin, you ask? read this). My Grandma was a pre-school teacher and she always had bins of rice for us to play in with various types of scoops and funnels. It was such a fun and creative activity and I knew Levi would love something like this. I'm working on a rice bin, but for Christmas I gave Levi a bin of rocks (a little less messy than rice to start out!).
I filled the storage bin an inch or two full of polished rocks (from the dollar store) and then added different types of shovels, cups, blocks and anything else I thought he could dig and play with. Most of these things I just gathered from stuff in the kitchen or his toys that we already had. I topped it off with a little set of construction vehicles from Target for about $5. I found a great book to go along with it called "Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site." I highly recommend it for any little construction lovers out there.
Levi LOVES it. It's definitely his activity of choice right now and will spend a good chunk of playtime digging through his very own "contruction site". And unlike many of his toys, Brian and I actually kind of like playing with it too. Win, win!
*obviously if you make your own make sure to supervise your child, especially if they like to put things in their mouths! Luckily, Levi is getting past this stage and hasn't tried to eat any rocks. :)