In recent times, open-ended play has gained so much popularity because of its benefits for the child in their Early Years Foundation Stage. It allows children to make independent choices, express their creativity and stretch their cognitive skills. Open-ended play instills confidence in your child to experiment with new concepts as they realize there’s no right or wrong way to engage.
This is why the Whollyeverafter team is excited to release a gift guide for parents/caregivers this holiday season. I know most of us consider Christmas gifts a big deal, as we express our love for your little kids, nephews, nieces, godchildren etc. Since play is a critical aspect of the child’s development and growth, I decided to release a gift guide to assist you in the gifting process.
As a family, we choose to be very intentional with gifting. I’m talking about weighing the pros and cons of each gift we invest in, so that it can be just that – an investment. We loosely follow the 4-gift rule. While this does not mean we only gift our kids 4 items for Christmas, we categorize their gifts under these 4 umbrellas: want, need, wear, read.
WANT – Gifts that fall under this category are those that your child really wants and chooses for themselves. For children ages 3 and under, it really is up to the parent to determine what items are of interest to the child.
NEED- As the name implies, these gifts are things your child needs. Items under this category could be learning materials, a saving/investment account, a new bed/bedding set, new *less/non-toxic* utensils, even new pantry items for a change in diet 🙂 etc.
WEAR- This gift does not necessarily mean getting more clothes. It could be replacing underwear that are worn out or tight-fitting. This could also be a new set of pajamas, a new watch, swimwear etc.
READ – This is where we get the chance to choose books/literary resources that match their reading level, interest.
I have gone ahead to also group the toys by way of skill set development, and the brands that have been featured have graciously agreed to offer up to 20% discounts on items purchased through this Gift Guide. Toysnmoregh is offering the largest discount rate – 20%, so please bear that in mind as you shop away!
-Toysnmore is offering a 20% discount rate for the whole month of December. Please note there are *limited vouchers available.
-BusyBrains is offering discounts on items with the code CHgiftid
*Please note that there are NO affiliate links in this guide, and I do not earn any commission from any purchase made via this guide. This was put together solely based on my love for gifting and gifting well, especially when it comes to our little ones. I am a firm believer that play is a critical aspect of a child’s development that should not be overlooked. Thank you 🙂
TOYS FOR FINE MOTOR SKILLS AND HAND-EYE COORDINATION DEVELOPMENT:
Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are two of the most important sets of skills children need to learn and develop at a young age. These skills allow them to perform daily tasks with their hands, like cutting paper with a pair of scissors, tying shoelaces, using utensils for eating and many more. The process of grasping and moving toys help your child develop these skills.
Some of the toys listed here, are what I call forever toys! Magnetic Toys and wooden blocks, for example, are play resources that are well worth the investment! You can start small, and add to your magnetic tile collection as and when you can, and it’s simply heartwarming to see kids of all ages express their creativity through wooden blocks and magnetic tiles.
Here are some toys that encourage the development of these skills (Local (Ghanaian) retailers are linked for each product.)
- Magnetic Tiles (Discount Available)
2. Wooden Blocks (Discount Available)
3. Learning Resources Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog (Discount Available)
4. Basketball Hoop – Discount Available
5. Legos: for younger kids, I would recommend the duplo set since they are larger in size, and more likely to be found when misplaced. All the moms understand the frustration of searching for the one last piece.
6.Toy Vehicles like:
7: Train set
TOYS FOR CREATIVITY ENHANCEMENT:
Creativity enhancement toys are important for kids in their early years. When kids learn to unleash their creativity, it helps them gain self-confidence. This allows them to discover new joys in everyday moments and gives them a desire to want to go outside to find new subjects. When in doubt, consider musical instruments. I don’t think you could ever go wrong with musical instruments. Most kids love music. So anything that will make a sound (created by them) has proven inviting!
Here are some toys you can consider when it comes to enhancing your child’s creativity
4. Musical Band
5. Doodle mat
6. The Art Castle curates fun art boxes that allows children to unleash their creativity through art! It could be tie dye boxes or one of their many customized boxes! She’s offering up to 10% discounts on her boxes, once you let her know you’re ordering via the WhollyEverAfter Gift Guide.
PRETEND PLAY TOYS
When children reach a certain age, they start to imitate what they see in the world around them. It’s important for children to put this imagination into practice. This skill set enables them to recreate scenes and situations from real life. Pretend play toys are great at encouraging language and communication. For example, while playing with a play kitchen, a child may begin to pick up new vocabulary like ‘stir’ and ‘bake’, and also the names of different foods and dishes. Their numeracy skills can also be improved by way of counting how many plates they need, weighing ingredients, or even counting down how many minutes the food needs to be cooked or be in the oven. My kids have four out of these 5 items, and they are every day toys in our home! If you are wondering if the investment is worth it, consider the many times it will be played with all year round.
Here are some of the toys that encourage pretend play:
GROSS MOTOR SKILL IMPROVEMENT TOYS :
Kids,when growing up, like to move a lot and learn to balance. Movement helps to keep your child’s muscles strong, upright and to perform regular motions. A lot of movement gets your child active and this promotes development and exercise. When we need to release some energy, our kids pick up their mobile toys and go outside. A balanced bike, a scooter, and wooden horse, trampoline…. these are all excellent toys to look at!
Here are some of the toys that improves mobility:
*If following the 4-gift rule, we would consider this under “Read” gifts.
Learning can be made fun through play. These toys help children to develop problem solving skills and spatial reasoning.
Here are some toys that can help make learning more fun:
Learning should not be limited to only books, there are other resources that are more durable and fun to learn with for both teacher and student. The Mini Scrabboard is designed by me, and intended to help kids learn how to blend and segment 3 letter words, which will help encourage them to start reading at a young age. It is beautifully made with oak wood which is noted for its durability, water resistance, resistance to wear and tear. Each board is uniquely engraved with a scripture I pray over my children, and hope to remind you to pray over yours.
3. Geometric shaped wooden blocks– This could also fall under toys that encourage fine -motor skill development. Just like lots of other toys that fall under that category, this is a fun and engaging way for tots to learn their shapes and colours.
Here are some typical ‘READ’ Gifts:
*Before we get into the ‘Read’ aspect of this Gift Guide, please note that the images shared are simply an indication of the fact that these retailers do carry Faith-Based Literature! They have a WIDE variety of books that they are happy to share with you! Simply check out their respective websites or Instagram Pages, and let them know the age-range you are working with. Thank you!*
Kids are always eager to grab a pencil, a crayon or a marker. The best thing you can do to nurture this interest, is to get them some workbooks to enable them work at their own pace. Kids develop critical thinking skills, practice attention, concentration and handwriting skills using workbooks. If you are considering the 4-Gift Rule, these kinds of gifts fall under “READ”
Here are some places you can get them from:
This Activity book is designed to help your child develop penmanship skills, encourage scripture memorization, knowing the word of God and initiate faith-based discussions between parents and children. It also comes with some additional activities that will make learning more fun for the kids and this includes:
-an alphabet maze
-a missing alphabet cloud activity
-an ABC dinosaur coloring activity all of which engage their cognitive skills in a fun but challenging way.
On-The-Go Learning Materials:
Flashcards: Want to make learning more interactive and fun for your kids? Flashcards are what you need. They help to promote early childhood learning and make kids think for themselves which helps to boost their confidence.
Here are some places you can get them from:
Looking for an on-the-go learning resource to inspire your children to memorize scripture? These flashcards are just what you need for sowing seeds of God’s Word in our children’s hearts. The cards are precisely sized to make it easier for little hands to grasp and can be carried along anywhere
Board Books: I love board books as on-the-go learning resources because it can keep little ones engaged as the flip though, and here’s the fun part for all parents: They can’t rip them as easily as they would with paperbacks! If your kids are rear-facing like ours, this is all the peace of mind you need on the road with a tot! lol
Storybooks are always an excellent gift idea! Books help develop the minds of children. The pictures in the storybooks help kids to understand and identify things easily. It is important that kids read story books because they help kids get to know new words, sounds and ideas. It helps to bring kids some relaxation after all the stress and strain of the day.
Here are some places you can get them from:
2. Early Pages GH: Early pages is always top of my list because she has THE most amazing children’s books at unbeatable prices!
3. GetPaged Tales: Someday I Will Fly is a children’s Book written by my dear friend, who enjoys story time with her little ones. It came as no surprise to me, when I found out she was writing one of her own! I would love for you to support her work!
Faith-Based/ Christian Literature:
Aside the Bible, buying Christain books for your kids is really important. It helps to affirm the existence of God and get them closer to God. It helps to teach kids biblical values and principles.
Here are some places you can get them from:
This coloring activity book, created and designed for both children and parents, takes you on a journey through great Bible stories. A lesson note, a bible text, and a topic of discussion are all included on each page. This is a unique feature that will help parents interact with their children and also use it as an opportunity to tell them about the word of God so that our precious little ones can apply God’s word to their daily lives.
The book also features an exciting activity section which includes populating the beautiful garden of eden with stickers, decorating Joseph’s technicolor coat and retelling the story Noah’s ark.
I consider storage items a need, but more for the sanity of the parent/caregiver. It can be exhausting to always have to tidy your kids room because they will always create a mess. Having a storage item that is theirs and has clear cubbies and areas for toys and books can be of huge help. It makes your tidy up process easier, and also teaches them to keep their room neat and tidy because they can keep their toys, books, shoes and more in these storage items. It also helps to give your kids a sense of responsibility. When we first bought our IKEA 8-cube shelf from IKEA, my daughter’s first question was: “mama, is this to help us tidy up?”. You bet! lol.
(Note: this shelf also doubles as a dollhouse :))
As the title indicates, this list is simply meant to guide you into meaningful gifting when it comes to the little people in your life. It is by no means exhaustive. Here are some major takeaways from the WhollyEverAfter 2021 Holiday Gift Guide is:
Through play, children are able to recreate the world as they see it, as a way of self expression.
A growing body of research suggests that children are creative problem-solvers, and as such, benefit from toys that do not command them, but rather let them do the ‘commanding’. Whether it’s an empty cereal box, a set of wooden blocks, or a stack of magnetic tiles, the relevant point here is: it’s important to allow the child take the lead on how the play journey should go, and not vice versa.
If you are really considering what makes a toy worth the investment, here are a few questions you can ask yourself (based on play merit)
-How much can the child do with the toy?
-what skills can be developed with this toy?
-can this new toy supplement existing ones, thereby extending play time?
Always in Love and Health,