Hi, my name is Alexandra Chiorando and I’m a qualified primary school teacher. I’ve been working in early years for 20 years in various roles, teaching children, leading school nursery units and managing teachers. I am married with 2 little boys age 9 and 4. I am passionate about teaching children through play and engaging them by following their interests.
Christmas can be a busy time, especially when you are juggling the responsibility of work/parenting/Christmas preparations! I thought I would share a few ideas for Christmas presents that I’ve tried and tested with many little people over the years.
Magnetic tiles are always a firm favourite and loved by both of the boys in our house. Playmags and Magnatiles are super strong, allowing children to build some impressive structures. We add small figures and the boys create houses, hotels and garages with them. They are indestructible and allow children to use their imagination to create anything.
Little Brian Paintsticks are fabulous for mess-free (ish) creative fun. I have a selection of art items out for the boys to use independently and they usually go for the paint sticks. I leave out egg boxes, cardboard tubes and a selection of paper for the boys to create with. We also have a set of small drawers housing a variety of craft bits, such as glue, scissors, lolly sticks, pom poms etc. You do need to teach children how to use them and to put things back in the right places but once this is done, they love going off to make things by themselves-giving you the chance to actually drink a hot cup of tea!
Grimm’s Wooden Toys are also a great investment. The cube sets and rainbows allow children to use their imagination to create different worlds and structures. They last forever and are still played with by my 9 year old. I plan to pack ours up and keep them for my grandchildren (fingers crossed) as they are timeless.
A Magnatab is a great idea to encourage children to make marks. The little magnetic balls give a different sensory experience and they are great for in the car/at restaurants.
Way to Play Flexible Road Track is another brilliant gift for car-mad children. You can change the road layouts and it’s very portable-great to take to a friend’s house to play. It’s durable and will last a lifetime.
Bilibo seats, wooden balance boards and pogo ball hoppers are all fantastic toys to encourage balance and proprioception which develops children’s large and small body muscles. I’d also always choose a balance bike to start off. We’ve had Strider and Frog bikes which are very lightweight and easy to manoeuvre. I’ve watched both our boys master them and move straight onto 2-wheeled bikes which cuts out the need for stabilisers.