05 December 2017
Your child probably has a Santa list as long as the jolly man's beard, and friends and relatives have probably been asking what gift your child would like. Why not think about getting gifts that aren’t only fun, but also support the development of listening and spoken language?
We asked Rachael, our Early Intervention Manager, to put together a list of gifts that are great for different age groups.
If you are feeling a little stuck this year for present ideas have a look at our list of presents that should bring a smile to your child’s face as well as building their listening and language skills. I have included some inexpensive home-made options too that I think have that extra special touch.
Baby’s development over the first twelve months is enormous. By the end of the first year babies are moving around and understanding simple requests. Some are even saying their first words. The best toy of all for babies is you! Babies love faces and will delight in songs and rhymes while sat on your lap, but if you want some ideas for your little one. Have a look at these:
Puppets can be used to encourage your baby to vocalise. As your baby vocalises you make the puppet move. Your baby will delight as the puppet gets closer and closer for a cuddle. There are some beautiful farm animal puppets available.
Babies delight in faces. A soft photo album of close up photos of families’ faces will be loved by everyone.
Blocks come in all different materials and sizes. They are great to develop hand eye coordination and understanding of cause and effect. There is a lot of language that can be paired with block play; “build it up”, “one more’, “push it down”, ‘it’s wobbly”, “oh oh it fell down”.
Let your imagination run wild. A piece of board with locks, and keys and materials of different textures, a mirror, and things that spin will keep your baby or toddler happy for hours. Have a look here for inspiration.
At this age toddlers are very mobile. They have an increased desire to explore new objects. They are showing greater independence and imitating the behaviour of others. Toddlers enjoy role playing daily tasks like hanging out the washing, sweeping the floor and cooking on the stove. Have a look at these ideas to bring a smile on your toddler’s face.
Play dough set
Make four different coloured sets of play dough and put each colour in a small separate plastic container. Collect some paddle pop sticks, a rolling pin and some cutters and create your own play dough set.
To make your own play dough set you’ll need to mix together the following:
- 2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup salt
- 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
- Up to 1.5 cups boiling water (adding in increments until it feels just right)
- food colouring (optional)
Buy a cheap box and fill it with craft items. You can include patty pans, paper, cellophane, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, paddle pop sticks, pom poms, crayons, card board, glue stick, paint and paint brushes and child friendly scissors. Your child should get hours of fun from their craft box.
Over summer you can share many tea parties with real water and fruit and crackers. Pack a picnic basket with your child’s favourite soft toys and head off on a picnic or you might just set up under the kitchen table. Enjoy talking about favourite foods, the colours of the plates and cups, who has the biggest strawberry, which cup is empty and which one is full.
Make your own cook top
Turn a plastic container into a cook top. Fill the container with everything your child needs to cook up a storm: saucepan, frying pan, wooden spoons, whisk, wooden fork, plastic bottles, oven gloves, tea towel, bowls, cups, spatula. It is portable, so this can be enjoyed anywhere, including in the garden to make mud pies!
Summer means the beach, where a bucket and spade are a must. This can develop lots of language with your child around what shapes can you make in the sand, who can build the biggest sandcastle, can you add a tunnel or a moat?
Children around age four are exploring and learning to express emotions. Children of this age enjoy engaging in pretend play and are becoming more cooperative with other children. Here are some unique ides to build your child’s imagination and creativity.
A hoola hoop hide out
It’s simple: a hoola hoop with a piece of material attached. The material can be of any design that you think your child will love. You can hang this inside or outside and your child has an instant cubby!
As parents drums and other instruments can be the gifts we dread the most, but they are a great activity for your child. You can march around the house taking turns being the leader. Who is first, who is second and third? Talk about how you play them - shake, beat, tap, scrape.
If you are a little bit crafty you can try making some of your own story stones. It is a wonderful way to encourage children to make up their own stories. Keep your stones in a soft bag or box. Just think of the stories that could be made when they pulled out a lion a roller skate and a pizza!!
Go and visit an op shop, buy a suitcase and fill it with a range of dress ups. Buy fancy shoes, hats, dresses, pants, belts, bags, scarves. If you buy items that are bright and colourful you will inspire their imaginations.
The biggest thing when it comes to this time of year is don’t over think your Christmas present buying. You know your child and you know what motivates them and makes them smile and laugh.
Find some presents that will be motivating for your child but also promote their whole development. Remember children learn through play and children learn when they are having fun! Children often have lots of toys at home.
After Christmas you may suddenly find that you have a lounge room full of toys. Have you thought about rotating your toys? Keep some tubs of toys in the cupboard and then swap them over each week. You might even bring toys out in themes; all the farm toys, all the vehicles, all the cooking toys, all the baby toys. By doing this toys sustain their interest for longer and children are more likely to focus their play rather than jumping from one toy to another.
Enjoy your festive season!