Introducing Alison from Brisbane, Australia. Alison is a childcare educator who runs Toddler Activities at Home on Instagram. She lives with her two girls (aged 14 months and 2.10 years) and her husband, Dion. Alison and Dion are also owners of the gorgeous online toy store Little Toy Tribe…
Hi Alison! Thank you so much for agreeing to be part of this interview series. I know you are super busy with the recent launch of your online store Little Toy Tribe so I really appreciate your time.
Our children are really similar in age so I love looking at your account for ideas. How did you get started with Toddler Activities at Home?
Yes they sure are! I love searching yours for more ideas too! I started Toddler Activities at Home when I was pregnant with our second daughter as a hobby. I suffered HG during both pregnancies and I found the account kept me accountable for making sure I did things with her no matter how I was feeling. I didn’t really realise how big the play community on Instagram was until well after I started the account. It started with just our family and friends following along and I just posted the activities that I was already doing (or had done) at home with my eldest daughter who was about 17 months at the time. Fast forward a little over a year and I also like to incorporate a bit of our personal lives and ways we organise things around the home.
You actually have three Instagram accounts, all with huge followings, how do you try to achieve balance when it comes to social media?
We sure do! I have to say it really is a lot of work but I think the biggest thing for me is to not log on when the kids are awake as once you log in you get sucked in to replying to messages. My Mum also comes to look after the kids for a couple of hours twice a week so that really helps with doing some work during the day! I turned all my notifications off a long time ago which has really helped me with not knowing when people are trying to contact me (and relieving some anxiety) and that way I can log in and reply when I find the time.
What are your top 3 wooden toys to introduce children to open-ended play?
This really depends on how old your children are as I’d suggest different things for different ages! At the moment my youngest daughter who’s just turned one is really loving putting things in and out as well as posting so I think the Grapat Carla Set with some Mates (little cups) is always a good start to any wooden toy collection. My eldest daughter who is almost 3 also still uses them to sort into colours and patterns so they are great for older children as well.
A good block set is an absolute must and if you follow us on @grimms_creations you’ll know that you can never go wrong with a set of balls!
Wooden toys are associated with both Waldorf and Montessori education. What style of teaching would you say your most aligned with?
We incorporate a lot of Montessori principles into our home through self help and independence. The children are free to explore their environment and help themselves to anything they may need around the home in order to get ready for the day or prepare meals. This is something that has been difficult at times with both the children but as they grow each day gets easier and I wouldn’t change the decision that we made. We prepare our meals together and I find this really helps with the fussy eating as they are more inclined to try foods that they have had a part in preparing.
Everyone has a favourite teacher. Who was yours?
My favourite teacher would have to be Mrs Jackson. To be honest school is not something that I did well at and I struggled most days. She got me into the learning support program which helped me to complete primary school and go into high school with confidence to succeed. Without her help I may not be where I am today so for that I am very thankful!
It can take quite a bit of work to always be creating new activities. What is your favourite ‘go to’ activity for those days when you are exhausted?
Oh absolutely you’re not wrong! I will say I don’t create as much now as what I used to as this used to be my hobby after the kids went to bed and now I’m busy running Little Toy Tribe. I don’t find as much time for my DIY’s however my favourite go to activities are water play, rainbow rice and play dough for those exhausting days that we all have!
This is one of my favourite DIY activities to date though! Who doesn’t love The Very Hungry Caterpillar?
Whilst you do own a toy store, you are really creative with play hacks. What 5 everyday items do you always keep for DIY play?
We absolutely adore the toys we stock at Little Toy Tribe and everything we stock we own in our personal collection. But yes, I am a cardboard hoarder too! I always have the wipes lids, toilet rolls, cardboard boxes, jars and tissue boxes on hand paired with my trusty hot glue gun and a pair of scissors!
Instagram only shows us a snippet of people and their personalities. What three words would your friends use to describe you?
Oh gosh it really does! People think our lives are easy and breezy but they are only seeing such a small part of our day! I’d say organised, generous and friendly. I truly love to help others whether they are my friends or strangers, it’s part of the reason I started this account.
Finally, how can we find out more about Toddler Activities at Home / Little Toy Tribe?
www.littletoytribe.com.au we also do a blog on there which shows you ways in which you can play with toys or simply more about them.