Tag: educational toys

Christmas Gift Guide – Educational Toys

Christmas Gift Guide – Educational Toys

I have to be honest, my kids have A LOT of toys. The boys have all gone through phases of being obsessed with digger, trucks and cars to superheros and NERF guns, but the thing is, that’s exactly what it is. A phase, and soon I know those toys will be lying in the toy bin forgotten or not played with, like a sad tale from Toy Story.

That is one of the reasons why I am such a huge fan of educational, open-ended toys and sets. Play items that are designed to encourage imagination and creative play. Toys that teach and that can provide endless years of return play. Here is a list of SOME of my favourite educational toys this Festive Period.

From Top left to right:

  1. No educational wishlist is complete without some LEGO. The possibilities are absolutely endless and it is something that is enjoyed by all ages. I have to say this is the first year my kids REALLY got into LEGO, aged 5 and 6. Let me rephrase that, they didn’t just “get into it”, they are OBSESSED. From cars and cities, to forts and Superhero towers they will spend hours happily creating. I have one son who is a “rule follower”, he follows that instruction manual to the last detail, but struggles a little with more free play. I have another son who is the complete opposite. DO NOT give him a manual 🙂 He can take those bricks and turn them into anything his heart desires. It’s so incredible to watch.
  2. Safari Ltd from Timeless Toys – It’s no secret how much I adore making “mini worlds” for the boys. The reason for this is because it combines sensory play WITH learning. My eldest has moved on a little from “normal” sensory play, and buy using figurines and by creating “Mini Worlds” our adventure begins again! The toobs sets from Safari Ltd are my absolute go to. They are a great size and you can purchase any theme you life, from the lifecycle of a frog or butterfly, to “Amazon”, “Africa” or “Antarctica”. These make great stocking stuffers! From R250.

3. Double sided Alphabet Tracing Set from Harper and Sloane. This beautiful wooden alphabet tracing board is a great way for young children to practice their letter recognition, letter formation and writing skills. I love the fact that the board is double-sided with lowercase letters on the front and capital letters on the reverse, all too often only one case is focused on which causes problems when school starts. R525 .

4. Melissa and Doug lock board available from Eden Kids.This was the first “puzzle” that I ever bought for my eldest child, and it is still going strong 7 years later! Its my 18 month old favourite puzzle at the moment, everyday she pulls my arm and says “tome” for “come” and makes me sit with her to open up the latches and look at the animals. Its a classic, and if its baby’s first or second Christmas, this one is worth it!

5. GeoSafari Jr Talking Microscope – Ok this has been on my wish-list for YEARS and I still haven’t gotten around to getting one for the boys. It comes with 12 slides of commonly found insects to deepen your child’s love for learning and exploration.

6. Spelling Card Box from Shop Mums Palette – I adore this box set and wonder why I didn’t stumble across it sooner! Such a fun, creative way to assist spelling and matching and at an incredibly affordable price! R230

7. Logarithmic Montessori numbers available from Takealot.com . I love everything about this set. It has counting, matching, fine motor skills you name it. It is great for hand eye coordination and I think is going to be one of our newest additions to the playroom!

8. All in one kits from One Two Play – making life easier for parents all across the country! One Two Play creates pre-packed kits to make sensory play and exploration that much easier. From Dingo Digs to Swamp Adventures, you can buy a pre packed box with everything you need in it for some sensory fun. While you’re at it, add some of their story blocks to your cart for some super fun, open ended play.

9. Card Machine Till – A till is more then just a till – Its the beginning of an entrepreneurs journey, its endless hours of shopping, counting, learning. Its maths. I bought a cheap plastic one for the boys about 4 years ago, I didn’t particularly like it at the time but it was the best I could find and that thing is one of the MOST used toys in our house! Its gone with us to market days, the boys set up shop at home and try to resell me food I’ve bought just to try to increase their pocket money 🙂 A good quality till is an investment, a masterpiece, and this one from Timeless Toys is just beautiful.

10. Imagimags – When I saw Marie-Louise post about a South African brand of magnetic tiles I jumped for joy! We were gifted our magnetic tiles a few Christmases back from my aunt in the USA (and they are a lot cheaper there). I’ve been wanting to add to ours for ages as the kids genuinely play with them a few times a week. Imagimags are proudly South African and trust me 108 pieces is a fantastic amount and the hours of play would be endless! This would be a gift that keeps giving year after year!
108pc Magnetic Building Tiles Set R 1,599.00.

11. Mega Blocks Sustainable Forest Friends these need a special mention, because these blocks are made from plant-based plastics, yep you read that right, a sugarcane based renewable raw material. Even their packaging is 100% recyclable and has FSC-certified packaging, made from both recycled and sustainably-grown materials. They are the perfect fit for little hands, and I love the fact that you have to “match up” the animals.
My 18 month old was able to comfortably stack and take apart the blocks with ease.

Blaze and The Monster Machines: how simple toys and TV shows can spark creativity and imagination

Blaze and The Monster Machines: how simple toys and TV shows can spark creativity and imagination

We all know we should be limiting screen time for our kids…. right?

Well I will be the FIRST to admit there are certain times in the day where TV is my LIFESAVER, and I am not afraid to say it. Yes I try to “limit” their screen time, but I also need my sanity. First thing in the morning, when I am too tired to think and need them to just sit in one place long enough to eat a decent bowl of oats, Saturday afternoons when I just want to try to catch a 15 minute nap and of course sometimes at those unravelling dinner times, when the only way to get them to eat is to watch something on the I-pad (we have all been there right?).

YES, my kids watch TV ! In fact it’s often on in “the background” in my house, BUT, I do monitor what they are allowed to watch VERY carefully.

We are pretty spoilt for choice in today’s world with educational shows for our children, but one of our favourites by far, has to be Blaze and the Monster Machines. As a mum, it ticks all of my STEM obsessed check lists, teaching children about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (click here to see some of my STEM experiments). As a child it ticks off speed, cars, and crazy imaginative talking animals/vehicles.

Each of the show’s presents some sort of problem that is addressed and fixed by getting kids involved, asking the viewer’s questions directly, inviting responses. My 3-year-old has learnt about concepts such as force, acceleration and friction. He can tell you all about combustion and how an engine works. He knows about angles and trajectory. In fact, by allowing him to watch Blaze I feel like I am encouraging a future scientist in him, I certainly DO NOT worry about him watching TV.

Playing with toy trucks in a sense promotes STEM concepts as well. Toy cars roll, they crash, they race. They learn that “wheels turn” and that cars move faster when pushed downhill. It teaches them pressure, and strength, learning how hard to push a car to make it go further. By playing with the toys alongside the show, they aren’t just “learning”, they are “experiencing it”. The best way to learn is through doing.

Mattel South Africa has a great range of toys out from Blaze and the Monster Machines™. We have had great fun playing with our trucks, re-enacting scenes from Blaze with our Talking “Zeg”. Zeg “loves to race” and is a mighty dinosaur truck who loves to smash and bash. The “Talking Zeg Truck” brings to life for kids the STEM concept of sound waves. Get involved with the kids and create your own adventures.

There is a full range of Blaze Talking Vehicles available to help you and your littlies recreate Blaze’s high octane adventures at home. These monster-sized truck tires, authentic styling and lots of phrases make these talking Monster Machines a must for every Blaze fan! Perfect for recreating the amazing adventures of Blaze and the Monster Machines™, each of these freewheeling vehicles comes to life with phrases and awesome action sounds! Suitable for ages 3 plus.

Technology is here to stay, that’s a given, I won’t feel guilty about letting my children watch TV, but I can also actively get involved in their play time and be selective in the programs they watch. If I had shows that encouraged critical thinking like Blaze does when I was growing up, maybe I would have had a chance to pass physics 🙂

** We received a talking Zeg Truck to review**