New Toys after Christmas
It can certainly be an overwhelming time after Christmas, an influx of new toys, finding appropriate storage solutions, and encouraging play as you get back into a routine as the new year slowly begins.
My favourite thing to do this time of year is list out a few themes which I can use during those moments of overwhelm. I find it so useful as the parent, to be able to grab a collection of toys to put together, but also my children play for longer, and more independently if they have a smaller selection of toys to reach for. Some of my favourite themes for this time of year include:
Building or stacking
This is such a broad theme, but also one great for most ages. I either set challenges such as, start with the smallest block and see how high you can build, or start with the biggest block. Use lots of different shapes and see how high you can build a tower. Line up blocks in size order, create a rainbow tower, the options are endless. We absolutely love the Tickit blocks available from The Wooden Play Den, the range of additions is ever growing and they are all the same colour pallet which is pleasing for the eye, colour sorting and lots of creativity too. We especially love the stars, the cubes and the large building block set, which comes in a great tray for building in, and including in creative builds too.
Sensory Play – specifically play-dough or coloured rice
My two children who are 2 and 5, and finding an activity that they can both do simultaneously is always nice. (Although, saying that, I always try to give them separate trays to play on because they always want what the other has!) Play-dough is, at all times, popular – especially the lovely scented pots from The Wooden Play Den. My two adore the yellow door stones and rollers that can be combined with play-dough. We luckily have the following yellow door sets mini beasts, safari, fossils, farm and wildlife footprints, perfect for pressing and rolling into dough and creating. They also lends themselves to lots of books and stories to either read with them after they have played, or read while they are pottering away keeping their hands busy. (Can you tell I love a theme!)
The other popular sensory play idea that keeps my two entertained is coloured rice. My son (5) loves using his vehicles and Lanka Kade farm animals to create whole worlds to play in. My daughter (2) loves filling vessels, pouring, stirring and mixing. They also both enjoy using their draw me Lincoln boards within sensory play too.
Role play, admittedly, is something I try to avoid as a parent – I am rubbish at it, but the children love it! Whether we set up a shop, café, or teddy bear picnic our tenderleaf toys are perfect for including in this – especially the ice cream and ice lolly sets which we have – but they have such a lovely range of role play toys that any little one would love to interact with. Without a doubt, one of the most popular toys my son (5) got for Christmas is his pirate set, it all comes together in a lovely small bag and includes a hook, a dagger, a map, treasure, compass and eye patch. Everything you need to encompass the character of a pirate! Hide the treasure somewhere, put the kettle on and challenge your budding pirates to search out the treasure!
Small world play
One of my favourite types of play to watch is small world play, listening to them chat away, create characters, places and stories is just lovely. The toys that we love for small world play include our Melodie Treasures peg dolls, our tenderleaf families, and our selection of wooden animals. I love adding in blocks or play silks to this kid of play – or making a tent or den for them to play in.
One of the best additions to our winter walks is out what to look for in winter book. Each page has a little bit of information which can give your time outside a little direction – which on the colder days is quite nice. We’ve used ours on the beach, looking for what’s washed up in the winter storms – in the garden feeding birds and wildlife and when we looked at animal tracks which can be easier to spot in mud or snow this time of year. I love taking our treasure tubes for collecting things, our shape viewers, magnifying glass and my son loves to take his periscope out with us too.
In conclusion, it’s defintly fair to say that making a basic plan, gives both me and my children a bit of direction in these dark winter days. A few lists can change my day from one of chaos and mess, to one of calm(er) play and less boredom leading to less arguments and stress.