And just like that, Christmas is imminent again. I am characteristically a last minute festive shopper; I have all the intentions of buying months in advance, but in reality I’m awful at decision making and spend way too much time ensuring that each gift is considered. I have definitely mulled over Madeleine’s presents more times than I can count this year. She is 19 months old, so her interests are changing and developing all the time. I really wanted to get her things that would grow with her, but would also allow her imagination to thrive; and that has been trickier than I thought since there is so much choice out there.
Part of our family tradition is to open gifts after lunch, so Madeleine has a stocking from Santa which contain things that she loves and will entertain her for the morning interim. I am utterly obsessed with my recent stocking find for her. It is handmade by Ruth from Gathers & Bows. She crafts them from Liberty of London prints and teams them with the softest velvet cuffs. The size is perfect to fill, and the finish is beautiful; you can really see the amount of time and attention that has gone into each piece. I love that this special stocking will become a part of her festive tradition, and will carry her through every childhood Christmas.
I have compiled a run down of my toddler’s stocking fillers, which I thought would be fun to share. I find these kind of posts really useful when I’m looking for age appropriate gift ideas, and I also love seeing how others celebrate Christmas too.
ALPHABET ANIMAL MATCHING
I have always tried to make sure that, where possible, there are opportunities for Madeleine to learn through play. I think that puzzles can be brilliant for this, because so many skills are required in order for them to be completed; fine motor, cognitive and problem solving to name a few. I love this alphabet pairing game from Wilko. Madeleine can place pieces together in simple two part jigsaws, so this puzzle will allow her to build upon that skill whilst also teaching her the alphabet. It will also help her to broaden her vocabulary, as it requires her to match up animals with their corresponding letter.
THE GRUFFALO SNAP
My daughter’s fascination for problem solving also inspired this next stocking filler. Madeleine has a number and shape puzzle which she almost instantly grasped, not because she recognises digits by sight, but because she can match colours. This game feels like a progression of that idea and skill, making it a brilliant development aid for her. As with any game of snap, Madeleine has to pair cards together. I love that each set has a coloured border so that those that match are easily identifiable. Madeleine loves the story of the Gruffalo, so I’m excited to see her interact with this tale again.
Madeleine is really enjoying role play at the moment. She loves to provide characters with individual voices, and finds so much joy in getting them to interact with one another. Early Learning Centre has a fantastic toy range called Happyland; these are sets of people, animals and scenery. Madeleine has a few already and they are easily her most played with possessions, so I was keen to add to her collection. I love that they encourage her to use her imagination, and also help to develop her language further. I chose two character sets; the first were farmyard creatures and the second a gardening family.
WOODEN SWISS ROLL
I recently found myself reading about the Montessori method of education, which has been really useful in terms of understanding Madeleine’s needs. The approach mentions that there are development phases that every child goes through; these are called ‘schemas’. By pinpointing which schema your child is in, you will be better equipped to supply them with toys and activities that build upon their current interests. When I observed Madeleine, I found that she was exhibiting all the behaviours of a transporting schema. She loves to collect objects together and carry them, and she adores pushing her pram. So, in response to that we bought her a shopping trolley and some play food for Christmas. This wooden swiss roll is a precursor to that gift; it cuts up into six little pieces, making it the perfect toy for her to gather up or push around with her other groceries.
POSTMAN PAT FIGURES
Anyone that knows my daughter, will be all too aware that she loves Postman Pat. In fact, her adoration for this program is so great that, whatever the public place, anyone and everyone is subjected to ‘Pat’ screamed at the top of her voice (and on repeat). It will come as no surprise then that one of her stocking fillers is dedicated to this postman. I found a set in our local toy shop which contains all of the main characters. They are a great size for little hands, and have moveable legs and arms which make them perfect for role play and sitting in toy vehicles.
CLASSIC FAIRY TALES
Madeleine has always enjoyed being read to since she was small. As a baby she loved books that were interactive, from flaps to lift to textures that she could feel. Now though, she has transitioned away from these and adores deeper stories. I came across a little collection in Marks and Spencer’s and thought that they were perfect for our bookworm. They have an entire array of short fairy tale classics to choose from, all of which are beautifully illustrated and written. I chose Little Red Riding Hood, The Princess and the Pea, and finally Three Billy Goats Gruff. They are great for her to listen to now, but also serve as early reader books too; they will be brilliant for her to read to us in the future.
What do you put in your children’s stockings? What did you have in your stocking when you were little?