Latches and locks can be fascinating to curious little munchkins and provide puzzles for them to discover how they work. On the surface they may appear to be playing, but they are really trying to figure out how to get into something they are not supposed to. So when our daughter, Kara, sent Pa a message suggesting that he make a latches toy board for her son’s first birthday, we asked dubiously, “Are you sure?” He is a very curious little boy who wants to explore and get into everything– especially if it looks like it belongs to the adults. While he was with us recently, the pile of “toys” appropriate for his age were usually quickly cast aside while he went in pursuit of “not a toy”. Since we encourage learning through active exploration, we agreed to make our version of a latches and locks toy.
First, Pa designed and cut out the wooden pieces for the toy.
Then I sketched a design and painted the back board with a picture that would be revealed when a latch was conquered and the block was opened. When all of the blocks on each side are unlatched, the little guy sees the whole picture.
When the wooden frame and blocks were painted in a blue wash, Pa trimmed the backboard, glued and nailed the frame together and attached all of the blocks and latches. He even put a handle on the top for carrying or for hanging on a hook for easy storage. The two latches on the bottom right will have small padlocks with keys when our grandson gets past the stage of “everything goes in the mouth”.
Instead of showing him how the latches work, Mommy is letting him explore and discover it on his own. I don’t think he realizes it’s a “toy”.