Its time for list #2 and first up are the littlest of littles followed by bookworms. Once again, no affiliate links, just products we love! I’ll say from the get go that I never spend tons of money on children’s toys. I would rather buy LESS and get heirloom quality materials that can be passed down and loved over and over, than buy MORE cheap toys that end up in the trash within three months of Christmas. This is a lengthy list with lots of options, particularly in the Babies & Tots list just to help give ideas for various developmental stages and is by no means a laundry list of everything your child should have.
For Babies & Tots
When my boys were bitty they loved gnawing on things. These wood and silk teethers from Bella Luna Toys are ideal. Lovely to look at, easy to clean, and they offer soft and hard sensory nourishment. At a recent conference I attended, Sonya Schafer discussed the importance of training children to have longer attention spans, starting with babies! She suggested that when a baby drops a toy, the adult can pick it up and offer it to them from a new angle, something they did not notice before, to help them sustain attention for a bit longer (seconds or mere minutes is ideal!) I thought of these teethers when she shared that story. Peek a boo, back and forth swishes for tickles, running fingers round and round the wooden loop, knocking the ring on a hard surfaces, gently caressing the side of one sweet baby face with soft silk. Calling attention to new facet of the teether to prolong that attention just 30 seconds more. Simple, beautiful and nourishing.
An interesting clutch toy, like the Haba Trix or Grimm Spiel & Holz Beads Grasper. These are a tactile feast for littles. Changing colors, patterns, shapes and that nice solid wood feel that weathers their tight grasps with ease. These sets are made in Germany and are pretty dang near impossible to ruin.
Years ago, in my excitement to provide my children with building blocks, I brought a set of gorgeous heavy wood blocks for my 2 and 1 year old. A well meant gift that arrived two years too early. They ended up stored in the closet within minutes of opening. Two smashed toes and a tot that could not even lift the the majority of these heavy blocks were signs that my eagerness for imaginative play jumped the starting gun. Start with lighter, simpler block sets like Grimm’s Rolling Boat Block set.
For littles that find it hard to sit on your lap for a story or for littles that can’t get enough of good stories, check out these Nursery Rhyme Blocks! Let your squirmy one build away while you read out the rhymes. I love the darling illustrations on these.
Stacking toys are so wonderful for this age. This Nesting set from Magic Cabin or a set of Grimm’s Nesting bowls for young tots can be played with in so many way. Nesting, stacking, sorting, transferring, storing. These are wonderful toys to grow up with.
Another great developmental toy is a simple push toy. While most push toys are in the vehicle mode, you can sometimes find charming animal friends to push along like this two part Rainbow Rolling Turtle. Those captivating rings roll around as the turtle is pushed along. Gosh, I love baby toys!
I’ll be including lots of imaginative play things in our next list for older tots and children. For this list I want to include a simple block puzzle, like this Animals Block puzzle from Dilly Dally. One puzzle with 6 different outcomes depending on how the blocks are turned.
If you don’t have time for a long hunt stop by Brimful . They have a lovely selection of unique characters waiting to be loved.
If you are shopping for an especially bitty babe, a kinderkram mobile is a beautiful piece of artwork that a child can grow up with. These mobiles are lovely to look at and stir the imagination as children age. Bella Luna has an excellent selection of these mobiles.
And speaking of growing….
These You Rule growth charts (made by a WAHM) are a beautiful, well made option for keeping precious memories in one place, even if childhood includes several different homes and locations. My mom has one for my four boys in her home. Its lovely and sturdy and oh so lovely. You can have these personalized too.
For the Bookworms
We purchased a nice set of Lamplighter books at the FPEA convention last spring and have spent this past summer and autumn devouring them. We love these books. Lamplighter has them organized by themes (virtues, characteristics, etc). When one of our children went through a season of struggling with selfishness, I went on the site and ordered a book that dealt with selfishness. We were able to have very meaningful discussions everyday as we read through it. We are currently reading through the Boys of Grit series which is providing many inspirational life stories these boys can look up to and be encouraged by. Lamplighter also has a theater division which records many of these stories. If you have a little that loves audio books, check them out! (You can also listen to a new episode each week!)
Speaking of audiobooks, please visit our HANDS DOWN FAVORITE, Heirloom Audio Productions. These stories are pricey but worth every penny. We listen to them all the time and my boys adore them. (This girl adores them as well and I know I would have been thrilled by these stories as a child too!) With Lee in Virginia, Under Drake’s Flag, The Dragon and the Raven, In Freedom’s Cause, Beric the Briton and their recent release Cat of Bubastes. These stories by G.A. Henry are recorded by brilliants actors (Joanne Froggat, John Rhys-Davies, Sylvester McCoy etc). Our first purchase was The Dragon and the Raven and the boys were so thrilled they listened to it over and over again for weeks! Character building themes and fantastic heroes and heroines. We have so enjoyed these productions and are always eager for the next release!
A reading chair of their very own. Our kids started out with a huggle pod but now use the book nook their grandfather built for them in the closet space of our classroom. A comfy bean bag chair like the Big Joe brand or a light weight hammock could also fit the bill. Think snug and cozy and give them their own little corner, it will mean the world to them!
Giving children access to books is so important. Does your child have a library card? This would make a great Christmas gift. Their very own library card! Or a gift card to a bookstore.
This year I will be gifting blanks books to the kids for writing and/or illustrating their own stories. Miller Pads and Paper is one of my favorite homeschool supply stores and they have an endless selection of notebooks and bare books to chose from. Here is the link for the one we chose. They also have blank board game materials for designing your own games!
A reading light. My boys earned their own lights in second grade once they reached their reading goals. It was a really fun privilege for them to earn and they have greatly enjoyed their extra minutes of reading time after the lights are out each night. These LED clamping lights for headboards are wonderful and currently on sale!
Finally, let us keep in mind what the great CS Lewis so wisely said, “A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” Seek out books your entire family can enjoy together. There are so many excellent book list resources out there. Read Aloud Revival, Aslan’s Library, Still Point of the Turning World, Honey for a Child’s Heart, Give Your Child the World and Simply Charlotte Mason’s SCM Bookbinder are my personal faves.
Now if you follow our blog or know us IRL, you know that we read allllll the time. We check out 50 books from the library every two weeks (+whatever my kids get on their own cards). We have read dozens and dozens of great family read alouds this year (By family read aloud I mean books read outside of our assigned school work) The hands down favorite?
The Rabbits have swords and they are awesome. If you read it and love it be sure to check out “Ember Falls” and “The Black Star of Kingston” too!
Close seconds were Teddy’s Button by Amy Le Fuevre, King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry, Copper-Toed Boots by Marguerite de Angeli, The Complete Brambley Hedge Series by Jill Barkley, Swiss Family Robinson by Johan Wyss, Little Sir Galahad by Lillian Holmes and Homer Price by Robery McCloskey.
We’ll be publishing our next list in a few days! Stay tuned.