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Discovery Table Week 2: The Alphabet

Welcome to week two of our brand new ‘Discovery Table’ series! This week, we’re all about the alphabet. We’ve had a fair few alphabet resources out for one of my students recently and Zoey has taken a real interest.

If you haven’t read week one yet, here’s the low-down on what the discovery tables are all about. The aim is two-fold: firstly it’s a way to follow Zoey’s current interests and secondly to rotate toys and resources on a regular basis.

The table is just a simple coffee table (previously used to dump toys on!) that is at an accessible height for Zoey. This is not about forced learning but allowing the opportunity for her to access resources more easily.

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Here’s an overview of the resources on this week’s table.

So what’s on the table?

The books and resources on the table are ones which we already had at home – please don’t go out especially and buy resources unless you are in the market for some new items!

 Alphablocks by Hello Pear!

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Hello Pear is one of our favourite Australian small businesses. The alpha blocks are versatile as a learning resource: we use them for  letter recognition, spelling and even building! There’s something about the tactile nature of alpha blocks that helps learning stick much more readily than computerised learning tools.

 

Letter Match Alpha-Pops  by Learning Resources

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These are a great resources for matching capital and lower case letters. The colours match, making it easy for little learners, plus the alpha-pops can double as a role play resource too!

 

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert 

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We received this gorgeous book in the latest Happy Explorers play kit. It’s a fantastic resources that promotes healthy eating through vibrant illustrations. As you can see from the photo above, Zoey loves it. The latest Happy Explorers kit is all about the alphabet, so click on the link to check it out!

 

ABC Lacing Sweets by Learning Resources

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We love the smooth feel of these ‘sweets’ they come in a little jar that again doubles as a great role play resource. The product also came with laces which help develop fine motor skills – whilst the laces aren’t very long, I kept them off the table just in case!

 

Chunky puzzle from Kmart

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‘Santa’ put this in Zoey’s stocking at Christmas time. To be honest, I thought it might be too old for her, but she’s totally rocked it so far! The beauty of the discovery table is that it allows Zoey to freely access resources of her choosing, allowing me to better understand her preferences and abilities.

 

 

 

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Gift Guide for Toddlers

What to buy for that 2-3 year old in your life? Whilst there are plenty of options in the shops these days, a lot of it is rather plasticy and has limited appeal.  After learning this the hard way when Harrison was little, I thought i’d share with you my ultimate guide to gifts for toddlers…

Something timeless…

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Grimm’s Wooden Toys might seem like an expensive option, but the products have endless appeal.

We’re fully paid up members of the Grimm’s fan club! (I don’t think it’s actually a thing, but it sure should be!) These open-ended products have limitless appeal for both children and adults alike. We  love to use ours for small world play, where a rainbow stacker can become a bridge, seesaw or indeed anything you want! Head on over to our Instagram feed where you’ll find lots of ideas for play.
There are heaps of benefits that result from choosing wooden toys over their plastic counterparts, including: supporting problem solving, encouraging interaction, developing hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills – perhaps I should write a separate blog on this? Send me a message if you’d like to see a post on this subject!
Our own collection of Grimm’s products are from Little Sprout. 
 

 Something musical…

IMG_20171115_125854.jpg We love the bright simplicity of this Janod xylophone

Parents, don’t hate me! I know there’s a ‘thing’ about giving children noisy toys, but this is definitely different. From a rainbow shaker to a drum kit, there are just so many options to suit any budget. For Zoey’s 2nd birthday, we opted for the Janod xylophone pictured above as I thought it would be a great way to develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Whilst toddler music can be interesting to say the least, letting them explore sound has so many educational benefits. Music helps boost cognitive ability and enhances memory, as well as being a great way to develop creativity so please don’t ignore the musical section of the toy store!

Click here to buy your own Janod Xylophone. 

Something special…

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Customised dolls make for a special present

Zoey’s birthday is just 3 days before Christmas, so while we can get away with it, this year we’ve gone for a combined present of a Le Toy Van dollhouse. I hope you all don’t think too badly of me for that – she definitely doesn’t miss out on anything!

Anyway, to go with that dollhouse, I ordered some custom made ‘ZOEY’ dolls from Jill at Tinkertime along with the whole Thomas family in miniature. The quality of these handmade dolls is beautiful and they are just perfect for small hands too!

To buy your own dolls, visit Jill’s Instagram page.

Something educational…

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We love the versatility of both the alphablocks and balancing blocks from Hello Pear

A gift that aids learning? You can’t go far wrong with these gorgeous Alphablocks from Hello Pear. We use ours in a range of scenarios, including as a spelling aid, for alphabet recognition and in small world play as shown in the photo above.

As well as the benefits mentioned in the Grimm’s section, these wooden Alphablocks have a wonderfully tactile feel to them. This sensory element actually helps young learners to better process what they’re doing, meaning the blocks have a bigger impact than those ‘all singing and dancing’ phonics tablets.

To buy your own set of Alphablocks, visit the Hello Pear website. 

Something creative…

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There are so many fun activities in each Happy Explorers play kit! 

We’ve received a few of these Happy Explorers* boxes now and cannot recommend them highly enough. Each play kit is curated to be an expert blend of play, learning and exploration which really does take the guesswork out of activities.

The play kits are the perfect alternative gift for when you’re looking for something a little different. If you want to get more of an idea of what’s inside, head on over to my recent post.

You can choose your own Happy Explorers themed box by visiting the website. 

Something small…

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Miniature animals are perfect for small hands.

There’s something about the little things that really appeal to toddlers. Zoey is utterly besotted with her collection of miniature animals and whilst they initially appear rather expensive for what they are, I promise you they are worth it for quality and durability alone!

We use our collection as a take-along in cafes, for small world play, when we travel and for a whole host of learning based activities including sorting, matching and counting. I’ve even seen them used as amazing cake toppers which would make for a brilliant birthday cake!

Our collection comes from both the Schleich and Collecta ranges. We tend to opt for whatever looks the most lifelike! 

Something to read…

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Honestly, you can’t really go wrong with a beautiful book! We are utterly obsessed with finding bright, new and appealing reads for both kids. We tend to browse art galleries and independent book stores for something a little different.

Sharing books with your toddler from an early age has so many educational benefits from boosting language development to aiding social and emotional skills. If you’re not too sure which books to try, check out the board book blog post to see some of our favourite toddler reads.

Happy Shopping!

Sian x

 

*Indicates items that have been gifted. In some instances I have been kindly given a store discount, however all of these products are items that we’ve chosen as presents for Zoey. Please email me if you would like further information.