This is a blog written primarily by Suzie Evans, stay at home mum to two little girls and owner of Toys and Games Ireland
A lot of children love jigsaw puzzles and this should be encouraged as there are so many benefits to playing jigsaw puzzles for 3 – 5 year olds (and even older!) Here’s the main ones.
- Develops Problem Solving Abilities
The nature of jigsaws is that they should be a bit of a challenge. By allowing our children to face challenges in play, allows them a safe space to develop their problem-solving capabilities.
2. Develops Fine Motor Skills
Fine Motor skill is the coordination of small muscles, in movements—usually involving the synchronisation of hands and fingers. Jigsaw puzzles are perfect for this.
3. Develops Hand-Eye Co-ordination
Training your hands to do what your eyes see is something we often take for granted but as a child, if you can develop this it stands to you for when you have to do more difficult tasks, like catching a ball.
4. Encourages Concentration
We all know that most 3-5 year olds find it hard to sit still and focus. Having something interesting to work on will help them develop this very important skill.
5. Social Skills
Most jigsaws are completed with help the first time. This encourages social interaction between the adult and child or between two children., as they talk about what pieces should be placed where and work together on finishing it.
6. Builds up Self Esteem
When I child completes something difficult, it gives them a sense of achievement or pride and helps build up their self-esteem and self belief.
7. Develops Patience
Often pieces need to be tried in several places before they are correctly placed. This builds up patience and resilience in your child.
8. Improved Memory
The first time a child does a jigsaw, it usually takes a bit of time. After several goes, it gets quicker as the child starts remembering where each piece should go.
With this in mind, it’s important for parents and adults to choose the right sized jigsaws for the child. If too many pieces are given, the child will lose interest or be overwhelmed and playing with jigsaws can become a negative experience for them. If too few pieces are given, it’s too easy for them and they will get bored and not want to try it again.
So, what are the right sizes for children aged 3-5 years?
3 Year Olds – between 8 and 20 pieces
4 Year Olds – between 20 and 30 pieces
5 Year Olds – between 30 and 60 pieces.
This is just a rough guide. Every child is different and develops at a different rate. The key is to keep on introducing jigsaw puzzles that they can just about manage and sit down and help and encourage them as they complete their puzzle.
I’ve been asked to attend a local parent and toddler group run by @Greystonesmomma and share about developmental toys for babies and toddlers. I feel slightly overwhelmed at the idea as I feel I’m not an expert in this field. I guess I have been doing research when choosing toys for the past five years for my website and having got two children through this age category, also helps! So here goes…
0-2 Month Olds
Although it may appear that babies this age do very little other than eating, pooing and sleeping, they are also developing and it’s never too early to play with your child. Read them rhyming stories or sing them nursery rhymes. You may want to hold and cuddle them constantly but it’s important for them to learn how to stretch out (after nine months of being in a confined area!). Having an activity playmat makes a nice soft space for them. As they grow older, they will enjoy the bring colours and dangling activities that these playmats provide.
2-3 Months Old
At this stage, your baby may start to grip things in their hands. It could be time to introduce some soft or wooden toys that their little hands can grip and old. I love these wooden hearts and owls. As your child grows, these can double as teething rings and they will enjoy watching the cause and effect of the parts moving when they move the toy.
3-4 Months Old
Your child’s eyesight is constantly improving and now they will be able to appreciate bright coloured toys and reflections. They will enjoy looking at themselves in a baby-safe mirror even if they don’t recognise that it’s their reflection yet.
4-5 Months Old
At this stage, babies start to learn cause and effect and they may start teething. These Squeakaboo toys are perfect for this age. Your child can grasp them and hold them. If they squeeze them, they squeak. If they shake them, they rattle. Different fabrics feel and sound different and there are lots of protruding areas for sore gums to munch on! They are also brightly coloured. A perfect sensory toy for this age.
6-9 Month Olds
By this stage, your child may be starting to sit up independantly. It’s good to encourage this by putting some simple toys in front of them that they can play with such as stacking toys.
9-12 Month Olds
Your child may now be crawling or attempting to move. To encourage this, it’s good to have a few toys that move, which your child can follow. Having a soft ball and some toys on wheels can do this. Also, your child’s pincher movement will be fine-tuning so they may be able to pick up items using their finger and thumb.
12 – 18 Months Old
During this time, your child might start to walk. Introducing push along toys or pull along toys at this age can be fun. Also, you could add to their collection of moving toys as they will now be able to fetch them themselves! Blocks are fun toys at this age, as are simple peg puzzles.
18 Months – 2 Years
Now that your child is this age, they may be showing an interest in scribbling. Make sure you have child-safe chunky crayons that their little hands can manage or chunky chalks. They can manage chunky piece puzzles and toys like shape sorters now too.
2-3 Year Olds
By the time your child has reached 2, their little imagination will have started to take off and they will love toys that encourage that, like dress up and play food. They will also start showing independence and enjoy problem-solving puzzles and music toys. Here are some developmental toys that they may like.
This is just a small selection of developmental toys for babies to three-year-olds. If you’d like to see my full selection, you’ll find them here. Or, if your child is three or older, I have a range for them too here!
Every child develops at different rates and every child has different styles of toys they like and don’t like. This blog is only a rough guide. I hope you’ve found it helpful.
It’s the National Ploughing Championships week when lots of boys and girls around Ireland get a renewed interest in farming. Of course, there are lots that are consistent in their love of farming and imaginative play around it. Either way, here’s ten cool farm toys that they might be interested in!
- Farm in a Tin – €13.95
This tin contains a felt play mat, a wooden farmer, a wooden tractor and an assortment of wooden farm animals. It’s easy to transport and bring out in a plane or coffee shop and then easy again to pack away.
2. Bruder – Ausa Mini Dumper – €15.99
Bruder make top quality farm and construction toys that look just like the real thing. This one is the Ausa Mini Dumper and it’s sturdy enough to be played with indoors or outdoors.
3. Melissa and Doug Farm Tractor and Trailer – €18.99
This gorgeously simple wooden tractor and trailer from Melissa and Doug Toys comes with a wooden farmer, a cow, a pig, two bails of hay and a plastic fence.
4. Tractor in a Tin – €13.95
This construction project is aimed for older children (aged 8+). It has everything needed to build your own tractor. Then dismantle it, put the parts back in the tin and take it out to do again over and over again.
5. Nesting and Sorting Barns and Animals – €22.95
This is a really lovely farm toy aimed at children aged 2+. It has six red barns of various sizes, each numbered a different number. Also in this set, are six wooden farm animals which a number on each. Put the correct animal in the correct barn and when your child is finished, they can be stacked together and put away neatly.
6. Shrinkles – Farm Friends – €6.50
This little set is perfect for a creative kid. Colour in the farm pictures with the colours in the packet. Then cut them out and pop them in the oven (with the help of an adult) for a couple of minutes. They shrink to become much smaller and thicker. Then put them on the counters, colour in the background picture and make your own play with your hand made characters.
7. Farm Observation Puzzle – €13.70
This lovely jigsaw puzzle has 35 pieces and features a cute farm scene. Around the edges of the puzzle are small items that your child needs to find in the main/centre part of the jigsaw. For children aged 3+
8. Bertie’s Tractor – €35.95
This high-end wooden tractor and trailer is made by Le Toy Van using sustainable wood. It’s just gorgeous and would make a very special gift for a little boy or girl.
9. Farmyard Peg Puzzle – €14.99
This large wooden peg puzzle from Melissa and Doug is designed for very little children. It has 3 pieces to put in and out and each of them has a super chunky handle which little hands can manage.
10. Fold and Go Barn – €42.99
This handy carry along wooden barn opens up so your child can sit and play with the contents. Then close it up and put it away. Inside the barn, there’s seven durable animals and a folding pen. Great for imaginative play.
If you haven’t found anything that takes your interest here, maybe you’ll find something in my farm toys section of my website. I’ll be adding 5 more farm toys to this section this week too so keep your eyes out for them!
Now that the children are back in school and the evenings are getting dark earlier, it’s time to take out the Board Games and have some fun as a family. Here are 10 Family Board Games which are great fun to play.
- Ludo – €9.50
This is a game for 2 to 4 players where each player is racing to get their four counters home before the other players do.
2. The Beetle Game – €7.99
The dice determines what part of the Beetle’s body you have. The aim of the game is to be the first player to have a complete beetle.
3. Charades for Kids – €14.99
This version of Charades is suitable for children aged 4+ as the items/actions to be acted out are in picture form as well as written on the card.
4. Scrabble as Gaeilge – €45
If improving your Irish and practicing it is something you like doing as a family, this version of Scrabble is just what you need.
5. The Yes/No Game – €10.49
The aim of the game is to be quizzed but not to answer with the words ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It takes a lot of concentration and skill to master this game and is great fun in the process.
6. Chinese Checkers – €29.99
This game is suitable for up to 6 players. The aim is to move all your checkers across the board to the opposite triangle. However, if you use strategy, you can block others in their journey to beat you!
7. Tintastic Bluff – €5.99
This little travel game is great fun to play at home too. The aim of the game is to be so good at lying that you convince others that you are telling the truth. Recommended for ages 8+
8. Kersplatt – €19.99
This game is a little bit like Ludo but your counters are moulded by you out of play dough. Instead of dice, there are cards telling you how to move and if you get a Kersplatt Card you can splat an opponent’s counter.
9. Chess in a Tin – €13.95
This gorgeous wooden chess set comes in a handy travel tin. The board folds out.
10. Scribblehead – €19.99
This game a is Pictionary with a twist. Instead of drawing the picture on paper, you need to draw it on the whiteboard attached to your forehead for your team to guess.
I hope you can find something here that will suit the size and age of your family. If you missed last week’s blog on Card Games, you can find it here.
Have fun playing games with the ones you love the most,
I’m a huge fan of card games – they are great fun, they usually make me think and they are easy to carry around and produce at airports, coffee shops or just to take out and play with the family. What I also love about them is that they usually are cheap games to play that can be played over and over again.
Here are my ten best selling card games on www.toysandgames.ie
- Are We There Yet? – €5
This fun game is designed to be played while travelling in a car. It’s quite hard, so is recommended for children aged 6+.
2. Guess my Name – €6.50
This is a card version of Guess Who, where each player has identical cards but have chosen to be one of the characters from the card. Then, they take turn asking questions in order to figure out which character their opponent is. Choose between a purple pack with female characters or a grey pack with male characters. Each pack contains 30 cards and 2 pencils.
3. Danger Mouse Card Game – €6
If you are a Danger Mouse Fan, you’ll enjoy playing this Secret Agent Card Game. It’s quick to learn, easy to play and hard to put down. Recommended for children and adults aged 8+
4. Grabbit – €12.50
This is a really fun fast-moving game where you pass around the cards until you have a set and then you attempt to grab a rabbit without the other players spotting you!
5. Card Holder – €5.95
This is not a card game but it’s an absolute must for any families who play cards together. Have you noticed how younger players just can’t hold multiple cards in their hands and often end up placing them on surfaces nearby hoping everyone else won’t look and see what cards they have? This is the solution. It’s a springed holder and it’s easy to slip cards in and out and see them all at once.
This is a fast-moving card game for children and adults aged 6+. The aim of the game is to be the first to get rid of all your cards and not to be left holding the Miss Trunchball card.
7. Playing Cards – €1.50
You can play so many different games with just one pack of playing cards.
8. Matching Flags Card Game – €4.50
Place all the cards face down on a table. Then take turns to turn over two cards in an attempt to find two of the same. Each card shows one of twenty-seven different flags with details of each country. The winner is the person who has collected the most pairs.
9. Where’s Wally Card Game – €5
This memory game is suitable for children aged 3+ and features characters from Where’s Wally!
This game is different from all the other ones featured here, in that it’s so much bigger and it can be played by one person on their own. Select a card from the pile and then figure out what wooden magnetic pieces you need to copy the image on your card.
When I went to school, fidgeting was frowned upon and punished. However, over the past 30+ years, attitudes have changed and it is now understood that some children need to fidget to help them sit still and learn. I don’t know the psychology behind it but I know that at this time of year, fidget toys sell fast on my website as parents prepare to send their children back to school.
From what I can see, the fidget toys that sell tend to be:
- small enough to fit into a pencil case
- static toys that will stay in the child’s hands (ie not bouncy balls or flying gliders or similar toys)
- toys that don’t make noise to distract other children
- sensory in nature, particularly touch sensations.
Not every child needs to bring fidget toys to school and for some, bringing them would be an added distraction to learning, so before considering buying some of these sensory toys to send into school, maybe check with your child’s teacher or someone in the profession.
Here’s are my top 10 fidget toys for school.
- Stretchy Men– 50c.
These little yellow rubber guys have dangly arms and legs that can be pulled and stretched.
2. Finger Spy – €1.10
Place one of these on top of your forefinger and watch the eyes wobble.
3. Finger Monsters – €1.50
Again, these fit nicely on fingers and then your child can pull on the arms, fingers and snout
4. Bendy Monsters – €2.50
These little toys have wiry limbs that hold the shape they have been bent into. They have fun faces to encourage imagination.
5. Bendy Robots – €2.50
These are the same as the bendy monsters only they look like little robots
6. Sticky Slug – €2.50
These slugs can be pulled and squished. They stick to surfaces and once they have lost their stick, they just need to be washed to work again.
7. Wobbly Wooden Fairies – €4.99
These lovely wooden toys have a button underneath to press. The top part (Fairy) is held together with elastic so when the button is pressed, the elastic tightens and the fairy moves.
8. Wooden Flexi Robots – €4.99
These wooden robot’s limbs are held together with elastic, so when you bend them, the wooden pieces lock and they hold their shape.
9. Magnet Set – €7.50
Your child can pick up paper clips and other metal objects in their pencil case while listening at the same time.
10. Putty Peeps – €7+
Choose from different colours and effects (change colour putty and magnetic putty). These little tins are perfect to pop into your child’s pencil case. Each tin has a hand full of putty and two eyes so that they can mould it into shapes or creatures.
I hope that school starts well for all children next week. If you have a child that needs fidget toys to get along in school, I’d love to hear what other toys have worked for them, as I feel my range is quite small but I’m not sure what else to add and I’d love some parent’s and teacher’s opinions.
If you haven’t already stocked up on some fun stationery for your child, check out this blog post.
Thanks for reading and supporting my small, Irish business,
I love how creative this age group are and I love that when they reach this age, they need less adult guidance to make masterpieces that they are proud of! Arts and Craft activities for this age are very popular on my website but there’s my top ten!
This set is probably more suited to children aged seven and under. The pack includes 4 double-sided glitter bracelets with velcro closures and 101 stickers to decorate them with. It’s simple, mess-free and really pretty.
2. Modeling Foam Dinosaurs – €10.75
With this kit, you can make your own dinosaurs by modeling the foam clay around the body shapes and waiting for it to dry.
3. Fischer Tips – Unicorn – €14.99
Fischer Tips are dyed protein starch shapes. Simply cut them to size and dampen them and they stick to each other. This huge drum of Tips has over 600 Tips and clear instructions on how to make a unicorn from them. After you have made the unicorn and rainbow, there will be lots of leftovers for other creative projects.
4. Deluxe Scratch Art – €17.99
Scratch Art is the simple project of scratching black (or white paper) to reveal a different colour underneath. This set comes with 15 scratch art boards, a stencil sheet with over 30 shapes, 2 styluses, frames, and instructions.
5. Paint your own Russian Dolls – €11.50
This set of wooden Russian Dolls comes with a paintbrush and paints so that your child can paint them as they wish. This craft probably suits children aged 7+ or adult help may be needed to draw finer points likes faces on the dolls.
6. Paint your own Wooden Boxes – €10
7. Craft Caddy – €14.99
This Craft Caddy from Galt has everything a boy or girl would love to make their own crafts with – pompoms, googly eyes, sequins, shredded paper, pipe cleaners, foam shapes, blank cards, zigzag scissors, glue, glitter glue, and an ideas sheet.
8. Step by Step Drawing Kits – €13.99
Choose between a pink box, a blue box or a box that focuses on learning how to draw animals. These kits have a whiteboard, a marker, and 24 cards, each showing steps to complete a different picture. They are very clever and before you know it, your child will be able to draw items you never dreamt they would be drawing.
9. Shrinkles – €6.50
These boxes a full of fun colouring pictures but what is different about them is that when you pop them in the oven for about a minute, the coloured pictures shrink into smaller and tougher plastic. Choose between Unicorns or Farm Friends. Each box also has a background to colour and stands for the completed characters. Or, I also stock a slim but larger pack of Stegosaurus Shrinkles that make keyrings. It costs €7.20. All three sets come with colouring pencils.
10. Make your own Jungle Wind Up Toys – €17.99
Using air-drying modeling clay it’s now possible to make you very own wind up jungle characters that can race each other along the included race track.
Well, there you have it. My top 10 Arts and Craft Kits for Children aged 6-8 years old. I didn’t include any of the sewing kits I stock, as I blogged about them recently. If you missed that blog, you can see them here. Or, if you missed my blog with Arts and Craft Kits for 3-5 Year Olds, you might enjoy reading it here.
Thanks for taking the time to read this,
I can’t believe that we are already in August! The summer holidays are really flying by and my children are constantly asking me when they can buy their stationery for the next school year! Personally, I hate thinking of it because it makes me feel like I’m wishing away the holidays but I don’t think that’s the case for them. I think they just love stationery.
For us, stationery shopping is a bit easier than for most people, since I own a shop that has a nice selection of school stationery. Here are some of our favourites.
- Mini Grafic Colouring Pencils – €6.50
I am tired of buying cheaper colouring pencils and find that the nibs just keep on breaking. This box of 12 colouring pencils from Djeco, won’t disappoint you or your children.
2. Djeco Box of 100 Stickers – currently reduced to €4.50
Having a quirky new pencil for the school year is a must for every pencil case and these wooden topped pencils will go down a treat.
4. Glitter Gel Pens – €5.75
Younger children probably won’t be allowed these in school but older children will love them for writing or colouring with.
5. Magic Markers – €6.50
Your kid will be able to wow all their friends with this set of magic markers. Colour using the marker and then colour over using the white marker to change the original colour to a different one.
6. Big Box of Colours – €39.99
Your child may not be able to bring such a huge box of colours into school but having this set at home will make homework a little sweeter!
7. Googly Eye Pens – €2
Have fun writing this these GoGoPo Googly Eye Pens. They are blue biros with fun jiggly eyes.
8. Light Up Fluffy Pen – €3.99
Not only do these cool pens have a purple fluffy/feathering end but when you use them to write, a little light on the tip (underneath the fluff) lights up.
10. Chunky Crayons – €6.99
These chunky crayons are perfect for pre-school and infant classes. What makes them extra handy, apart from their size which is perfect for small hands, is that you get 16 colours but they only take up the same space as 8, as they are double-ended crayons.
11. UV Spy Pen – €3.50
I usually try and keep my blog posts down to 10 items but I just couldn’t leave out this really cool UV Light Spy Pen. When you use the pen, you can’t see anything, then use the light that’s built into the lid and the secret message appears. Perfect for sending secret messages to your friends in school!
Well, that’s my favourites. I hope you all have a lovely August and you make the most of the last month of school holidays.
As you are probably aware, I did a whole series of gift idea blogs for certain ages earlier this year. I stopped at age 10 but have since had a request to do one for 11 and 12 year olds. So, here are some toys I’d choose to give to eleven or twelve year olds. As always, I’ve chosen toys ranging in price from €8.65 to €21.99 and I’ve just chosen ten. If you can’t find someone perfect from my suggestions, I’m sure you might find it from my full range of toys for this age group.
- Origami Wild Animals (8.65)
Learn the art of folding paper in a way that they look like wild animals. This kit comes with visual instructions on how to make 5 different wild animals, along with 55 sheets of double-sided, patterned origami paper and stickers to complete the animals.
2. The Story Telling Game (€14.99)
Use your imagination to tell the wildest story you can, using the cards you have been dealt but watch the clock and your opponents!
- The Science of Codes and Riddles (€10.99)
This science kit is really well priced for what you get. It has a good mixture of crafts and science to learn how to solve codes and riddles.
- Chess in a Tin (€13.95)
This little tin has a fold-out wooden chessboard and all the pieces needed. The perfect size for bringing on holidays or storing in a small bedroom.
- Galileo Thermometer (€14.99)
Another great science kit which allows you to make your own Galileo Thermometer and understand the science behind its workings.
- Don’t Say It Game (€15.99)
Taboo is still a little difficult for this age group. This is an age-appropriate version where you have to guess what the person is describing but they are limited as they can’t say certain words.
- Knitting Art (€17.50)
If the child hasn’t already learned how to knit, now is the perfect time to learn and to take pride in their creations. This kit comes with two sets of knitting needles so two children can learn together.
- Space, Stars and Slimy Aliens (€17.99)
Learn all about the universe in a fun and gross way with this science kit.
- Skribble Head (€19.99)
The challenge with this game is to be able to draw a picture on the whiteboard attached to your forehead in a way that your team can guess what it is. Easier said than done and great fun to play.
- Bananagrams (€21.99)
This game is similar to Scrabble only everyone is making their own crossword. It’s very fast-moving as every time someone shouts ‘Banana’ you need to take an extra letter from the middle pile.
I know people often find it overwhelming to buy gifts for older children and often resort to giving money instead. However, there are lots of fun toys out there which kids this age will really enjoy playing with.
I hope these suggestions have helped you. If not, don’t forget to check out my full range of toys for 11 and 12 year olds.
Game Review: Bingo
Last month we went on holidays and one of the evenings we attended a Bingo night. To say that the children enjoyed it would be an understatement! They loved searching their cards for the numbers that were drawn and the suspense that each one brought, not to mention the competitive edge. When we got home, I decided to look out for a similar Bingo game that we can play at home and I sourced this one!
It comes in four pieces in the box but is easy enough to assemble despite there being no written descriptions. The box has a description on it of how to assemble so make sure you don’t dump the box or rip it open. Children will need help assembling this game. Once assembled it is sturdy. I don’t think it is made to be dismantled and assembled every time it is being used which means that you can’t store it in its box. My daughter keeps it on her shelf and I quite like that she can see it, as it means she will be reminded to play it regularly!
It comes with 90 balls, each with a number printed on it. I like that they are bright orange, so if they fall on the ground, they are easily identified and not dumped! These are easy to slot into the large, clear ball. Once they are all inside, you turn the handle and one ball is released at a time. It slides down the shoot and then the number is called out and the ball is placed in its place on the board.
Each player has a card with 15 numbers. When a number is called, if it is on their card, they cover the number with a blue foam counter. The game comes with loads of cards and counters. If you are playing this with a group of kids (or adults), you can give a prize for the first person to cover all the numbers in one row, two rows and then the whole card.
Although it’s very simple, it can take some time for a player to win. This is the number of balls that needed to come out before we had a winner.
This really is a game that the whole family can enjoy or which can be played with a larger group. Perfect for a youth club or classroom.
This Bingo Game costs only €14.99 and I’m happy to recommend it.