Whenever I pack for a trip, but especially when coming to Taiwan, I try to be as efficient as possible. After all those years of lugging suitcases full of shoes, toiletries and books, I have finally learned that less is better, especially now that I have two kids in tow. There is, however, one issue that I can’t really skirt: toys. What could we bring to occupy Otis during our three week trip that wouldn’t be too heavy or take up too much space? We were here for a long time last year, and Otis soon became painfully bored, begging to watch TV night and day. The selection of toys available here is limited and mostly plastic, or else wildly overpriced, and we were forced to make a pilgrimage to Ikea, where I knew that at least they would have some wooden blocks and trains. I packed a little better this time.
Here are some space saving things that I brought along on this trip:
- plastic animals. You can never have enough animals, in Otis’s book. In combination with the blocks and train tracks, he can spend a long time building animal habitats.
- materials to make playdough. Here is the recipe I use. I brought a small baggie full of cream of tartar and some food coloring, and the other materials are easily found everywhere. He loves playdough, and the baggie gives me an illicit thrill as it looks like I’ve smuggled something illegal into the country.
- scissors. He’s been learning how to cut paper, and it can occupy him for ages. We brought this book along, but I’m still sort of eh about the whole series. It’s usually enough for him to cut paper into “vegetables” and cook them in a skillet.
- colored pencils, crayons and sketchpads. I usually have tucked into my purse a small plastic envelope filled with a sketchpad and cray-pas. At home, they usually come out during dinner outings, and are a reliable occupier of Otis’s time. I also brought this Ed Emberley book, but we haven’t used it yet since one of the Grandma Aunts also bought a similar book.
Then here’s something that F came up with, both to occupy Otis’s time, and to give him a way to see his Baba every day, which I think is pretty clever. Man, what would you call this thing? “Refrigerator animal game” sounds so generic. Maybe a “magnetic animal habitat?” Here’s how he did it.
F used a photograph from a trip they took to the zoo and printed it onto magnetic photo paper.
Then he found full-body pictures of the whole family and printed them. Unfortunately, the only full-body picture he could find of me has me standing behind a giraffe cut-out. At least it’s keeping with the theme.
He also printed pictures of some of Otis’s favorite animals.
He carefully cut them out and here we have our set! Our refrigerator at home is stainless steel so this would not work, but happily, my parents’ refrigerator holds lots of magnets.
Otis rearranges the animals often. Sometimes, Bee is “in Mama’s belly” (as above) and sometimes she’s floating in the trees because “she can jump really high.” This easy project could be tailored to any kid’s interests and give them something to play with in the kitchen. Anybody else have any suggestions for lightweight, space-saving toys?