I'm mainly following The Toddler's Busy Book in planning activities for Jake. A few weeks ago I started feeling that he needed more challenging / planned or structured / new things to keep him busy and that if I didn't plan them in advance, I would feel even more overwhelmed. Hence Trish's book, which is brilliant. When I first skimmed through it, it looked too simplistic. But then I realised that it was simple, not simplistic, and that's what makes it work. You don't need anything fancy or expensive and it confirms everything I've come to believe about overpriced, battery operated toys that are so tempting at first glance because of the way they are marketed as educational. To a toddler, everything is educational, but the best thing is, he sees it all as fun. And since Jake has had a tendency ever since he could crawl to gravitate towards anything that didn't obviously look like a toy, this book and it's approach is perfect. No need to spend money on a great many fancy toys. I wish this was something I'd been told before he was born. But I suspect that I may not have listened and needed to learn it my own way.
So, onto the clothespins! This is a game called Clothespin poke and it involves some clothespins and an egg carton. The idea is that you punch holes into the bottom of the egg carton and your toddler has fun sticking the pins in and pulling them out. But of course, being a toddler, he will invent numerous variations on the game, which will gravitate into "lets see how many pegs we can throw across the room" to "let's put Dolly into a clothespin bed". Hurrah.
For older children, you could even use different coloured pegs to play tic-tac-toe.