Regular readers will know my feelings towards play and learning through play- and in recent months I have had the privilege to witness just how powerful child led learning can be. Despite teaching as my own year one class, I don’t think I really appreciated, until now, how a child learns. I have been so lucky to have been at home with the preschooler for the majority of his life and to have been the main influence in his learning too. He does attend preschool but he spends more time at home and I find the time we have together to be fascinating.
We don’t sit at tables with pencils and paper and whiteboards full of ‘things to do’. We are not formal. I am led by my son and the things he loves to do. We play. We learn. He has another year before he starts school and already he can count beyond 50, he can read many CVC words and he knows almost all of his letters and their corresponding sounds. He is inquisitive. He is enthusiastic. He asks lots of questions. He is creative, expressive and thoughtful. He has a thirst for knowledge and a fantastic imagination.
He has achieved all of this himself, through play. He, to me, is the essence of teaching. I know if I were to go back into a classroom tomorrow I would be 100 times a better teacher because of him. He has helped me to understand teaching and learning.
Toys are very important in our house! Not a day passes without the children and I losing ourselves for a while in an imaginary world where we can just be. It seems Toadstool share my beliefs in the power of learning through play and already I see that many of the toys on their site are toys that we either own or have enjoyed at playgroup! But there are still many that we would love to get our hands on, so without further ado- here is our Toadstool wishlist!
The preschooler has owned a Brio rail-set since he was a year old but he very rarely plays with it. We use the trains to paint with more than anything else and it has truly helped to spark his love of creative artwork! However, the baby (whom I really should start calling ‘the toddler’ *sob*!) has started to develop a real love for the track! She has started to become transfixed with setting up the track (and helps too, flexing those fine motor skills nicely) and she loves making train noises as she chuffs them along. She has also added the word ‘train’ to her growing repertoire. She’d absolutely love the speaking station to add to our set.
The baby and the preschooler both love role play. The preschooler has always loved fantasy role play with dinosaurs, dragons and knights, while the baby is increasingly displaying a love for domestic role play. It’s a rare occassion that I can hoover without her grappling the task from me! We have a wooden kitchen ready for her 2nd birthday in Febuary and so I just know she would love this beautiful wooden vegeatables play set to use alongside the wooden sandwich set we already own. The baby has already grappled the preschooler’s Eco House from him and she really loves playing with it, almost as much as she loves her dolls. I know that The Toadstool also stock this house and I can thoroughly recommend it- it is one toy that is played with every single day by the little ones. At the moment, we move the house around different rooms as the children like to make their mark on their territory! It would be lovely to have a dedicated area though and I think a play mat like this wonderful Haba rug could possibly help us find a home for our house. Which leads me to my next project…
As already mentioned, the preschooler and the baby are both huge fans of of role play and each love to emulate parts of the world around them in this way. The preschooler has a work bench and loves to potter around (admittedly, sometimes he take a hammer to doors, claiming to be ‘fixing’ but mostly he plays nicely!). He would absolutely love the Haba Tack Zap On Duty set because he would then have a safe place to hammer! This is a must for him this Christmas.
The baby loves domestic appliances and for some time now I have wanted to turn a part of the playroom into a home corner for her. This was always the most popular part of my classroom and the one area that never got changed- the kids played there all year round. The baby would LOVE some play food for her kitchen- I love the Haba playfood Pizza and the Haba play fruit and veg. I would also dearly love to get her a washing machine and a new pram (she is a pram lover!) that will last- like the Haba love hearts wooden pram. It’s gorgeous!
All the children love music and have lots of instruments already but we don’t have chimes, Clicker-clackers, Clapper sticks or musical eggs! We often have signing and music sessions and the kids love to dance too!
We have a set of wooden bricks that the preschooler got for his first birthday. They are the first things to come out most mornings and we have, as a family, spent hours playing with them. Last weekend we spent time with Jennie and her twins and the children played with beautiful Plan Toys Fairytale blocks, which are gorgeous. But I really think the preschooler would love the Haba Plug and Stack Master Builder- as would the baby! The Hape Bamboo Pallina game also looks great fun!
It’s safe to say that there is a LOT on the Toadstool site that the kids would love, and to find them under the Christmas tree would just be fantastic! They are toys that will last and take the place of bits and bobs that get put under beds and forgotten, or wrapped up again and gifted on (shhhh! ). I also love the fact that the toys are ethically made and perfect for enhancing learning through play. I’ve pinned all of these toys (and much much more!) on my TheToadstoolUK #TTXmas wishlist board- take a look!
What would be on your wishlist?