Thursday, November 29, 2012

Great Gifts for 1-2 year olds

There are huge changes between your little baby who needed you to do everything and your one year old. A one year old is either walking for close to it, is eating solid foods, is beginning to say "words" or getting there. They are really starting to show their personality at this stage. They are much more involved in exploring and find toys a bit more interesting now. 

Some of the things from the previous stages are still excellent toys and will remain excellent toys for quite some time, for example: blocks, balls, toys where one thing disappears (think jack in the box). By one they are branching out a bit and start enjoying things that they can push or pull while they walk. Scooping and stirring are interesting for them. Water play and other sensory activities are beginning to be fun and between one and two they can start to use art supplies that are designed for their age (with some help of course). 

Here are few toys that we loved at this age:

1) Pop-up toys where you twist, push, buttons and then an animal pops up.

2) Duplo Legos, they have come out with some really fun sets a few that are particularly interesting for the 1 1/2 and up group. There are some sets that include trains, dinosaurs, and more. 

3) Simple puzzles, ones with nobs are much easier for toddlers to handle. There are some with added texture, great for sensory play, and learning about texture words.

4) Shape sorter

This one is multi functional because it is also a pull along toy:

5) Dr. Seuss board book set

6) Beginner games.  

7) A pretend phone, pretty much the bees knees in a youngsters eyes.

8) A walking toy, either to pull or push. The thing about the ones that a toddler pushes is it might go really fast and cause baby to fall, some have something to slow the pace down but most do not so keep an eye on them at first. 
We have ride on toy that can be pushed also and my 6 year old still uses it. 

9) This eating set is great for toddlers starting to feed themselves. It is really fun and they have it in a construction theme and garden theme. It even has a little pusher to help push food onto the spoon or fork.

Another good investment at this point is a zoo membership or children's museum membership. 


Saturday, November 24, 2012

Great Gifts for 6-12 Months

This is the age when kids start to get active. They are rolling over, sitting up, scooting, crawling, standing up, and beginning to walk. Sitting up is a big step in being able to enjoy toys more. They can use their hands a lot more to grab and manipulate things. Babies from six to twelve months are still putting things in their mouths like crazy and are starting to really eat solids.

I loved watching my little ones start to take their first steps and learning how to dance which they even do before they walk. This is a time when it is really important to talk about everything. I liked to use colorful toys to talk about colors, and when handing blocks to a baby I liked to count them as I was handing them out. This is a good time to start using sign language with simple words and phrases.

I love the baby stage it is so full of learning and everything is new and full of wonder.

1. Blocks. It is a major accomplishment when a baby develops the ability to stack blocks. Getting the point where stacking is possible takes practice. It is a great way to work on counting and depending on the blocks many other things too. Here are a variety of suggestions for blocks all with attractive qualities. 
 a) These are lovely colors, and include numbers with objects to count on each block. They are just heavy enough to make stacking not too difficult and are rubber so little hands can grab them more easily.

b) These are great because when you push a button on one it causes not only the object on it to move but also the object on the one stacked below it. There are only three of them but the stack together well and stay stacked more easily. 

c) Alphabet blocks by Fisher-Price are neat because they each have a letter and something that begins with that letter.

2. I love this set of stacking toys. I give it to almost every new baby I know because it has great potential to be a wonderful aide in learning and development. It is great for learning colors, sizes, stacking, object permanence (even if you can't see it is still there), and coordination.

3. Crawl along drum. Something to encourage crawling and makes noise! When my son was young he loved playing with one of these at my friends house and her baby loved it too.

4. I really like how this toy has a leg that each makes a different tone. The legs are full of air so they are pretty easy to squeeze. 

5. Eric Carle Board Books, beautiful art and learning combine in his books to make them a great addition to any kids library.

6. Bath toys begin to be a lot more fun at this age. Here are a couple my family enjoyed: 

d) Wind up toys

7. Spinner toys are great for this age

8. Jack in the Box

9. Sign language books to read with baby are good for encouraging enjoyment of books and learning signs to help strengthen communication skills. 

10. Music and shakers/bells
The wheels on the bus is a family favorite but there are tons of others. Try and encourage shaking to the beat, using hand signals and signs along with songs. 

Don't forget that a lot of the items from the 0-6 month post are still great toys for this age, such as a picture book of people baby knows, a mirror book or just a mirror, and as I am sure you know these little guys and gals are not going to really understand much about gifts and will benefit most from interaction with people and environment even with the simplest of things. It might be a good idea to give a gift of donating to a college fund instead of a toy.

Also check out the next age group too, here are some great toys for ages 1 to 2.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

12 Holiday Gifts For 0-6 Months

I thought that I would make a short Christmas suggestion list for the ages my children have experienced. These will be items suggested because of the amount of use they received by my children or because they help further development. 

I figured I would start from infancy and work my way up to older kids. The thing about babies is they really benefit most from interaction with people. They are naturally attracted to faces in particular and notice contrast, like the lines of eyebrows and the hair line. The see black, white, and red the best in the begginning as well as things that are about a foot away. This means that toys that are bright and have lots and lots of color are not actually that interesting for a very young baby. They see much simpler patterns better, red, black, white. 

Younger infants have difficulty grabbing things but this is one of the first things other than smiling and lifting their heads that will be helpful in playing. Therefore things that are good for grabbing that have interesting textures or sounds are good for baby.

Here is a small list of some good things for baby. 

1. Both my kids liked either the whoozit or lamaze toys 

2. I have heard great things about this Giraffe, he is great for chewing mouths and made out of natural rubber so he is safe. His long neck and legs are great for gripping.

3. A mobile is always nice for above a changing table, just make sure it is out of reach of the baby so that later they don't get it messy.  

4.  A swing is both fun and relaxing for a baby and helpful to the parents, although I recommend baby wearing very much (Ergo Baby and Moby are excellent carriers).

5. A tummy time toy is good for helping to encourage development of upper body strength needed to crawl. We had one similar to this that my daughter loved and it can fold up to take it along places.

6. A mirror is great for babies to learn about self recognition and faces. 

7. I like rattles for babies but I don't like how they are usually hard so the baby ends up hitting their face with it. This one is nice and soft. 

8. This sqeak toy is also neat:

9. Books! Fabric books are great for baby or high contrast books also consider getting one you can put family pictures into. We liked this one called Look! Look! and had one to put our own photos in. My child liked that one until she was 2 and still goes back to look once and a while. Honestly my boy like to look at it when he was 4 and 5 but I am not sure if that was just because it was his sisters.



10. A soft ball that baby can hold onto is fun.


11. Another great gift is music, a cd with either calm music or fun common songs like the wheels on the bus are great choices. If you head to my Music tab you can find some good music for kids/babies.
12.  Of course since babies are not really going to know if they do not get lots of toys for holidays it is always a great idea to donate to a college fund. 

Coming soon...6-12 month toys (some of these will definitely work for that age too, there are just some new ones to add to that age group that would not really be useful to a baby under 6 months). 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Felt Hand Turkeys

The other day I was looking for a craft to do with the kids. Thanksgiving is coming up so I wanted to do something that fit the Thanksgiving theme. I adore hand print crafts because I love being able to have something later that reminds me of how big their hand was. Connected to the craft it also shows what their artistic ability is at that point in growth.

Hand print crafts also have the advantage utilizing many areas that little ones need to work on like fine motor skills (tracing, cutting things out), you can talk about how the hand that is traced is the same size as their hand and how it is larger than the one from last year (learning about growth and size), and usually there is either coloring, gluing, or some other form of decorating that takes place where patterning development, learning about colors, textures, shapes, etc. can all take place. 

This time of year is also a really good time to learn about history, culture, and reasons for being Thankful. I like to talk about the story of the first Thanksgiving and include some talk about how the Native Americans might feel about Thanksgiving given how they are no longer able to live on the land the way they used to.

So I went with the hand print turkey. I have done hand print turkeys in past years using a foot as the head and body and hand prints (usually at least 3) as "feathers". Those are really cute and I recommend them, but this year I went with something a little different.

I had some little googly eyes and toilet paper roles hanging around and I had gone to the craft strore a few days before looking for Thanksgiving colors and found these leaves and pompoms that looked like fun.

We traced the kids hands onto the felt leaving enough room below and next to it to cut out a line to wrap around the toilet paper tube (used for support). I cut the toilet paper tube to about and inch in length but with one side having enough room to extend the length of the hand so it would support the hand so the fingers would not fall over.

Then using a sticky, less watery, craft glue the kids went to town decorating the turkeys.

After the glue dried we glued them onto the toilet paper rolls and set them up.