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I am a home schooling mom to three amazing kiddos.  We primarily use the Montessori pedagogy to guide our journey.  We also enjoy aspects of classical education and are part of Classical Conversations community. 

I write a Montessori column for Practical Homeschooling Magazine.

I am still a geek at heart and at times miss my former career as an Information Architect/SharePoint Specialist.  I don't have much free time but if I do, it is spent on comic books and video games.
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Fifteen Favorite Gifts for a Toddler

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With the holidays fast upon us, I want to share a few of our favorite items for toddlers. Keep in mind that this selection focuses on things that we tend to use outside of the classroom. One of these days I'll compile a list of our favorite classroom essentials. Until then, I hope you enjoy this list of items that have kept my toddlers intrigued.

1. Buckley Boo
The varying buckles have provided hours of fun for my children all while helping to develop fine motor skills. There are several choices of animals and even a smaller version that only has 3 buckles.


2. Original Toy Company Pop Up Toy
Not only is it fun to put the pegs in the slots but each slot is spring loaded which adds an extra point of interest. Over time, my children have figured out the color matching aspect.


3. TAG Toys Shape Sorter with Mirror
This shape sorter comes with five removable lids allowing you to increase the difficulty as the child learns. When the shape is matched, it tumbles out the bottom. My children love watching themselves complete the work in the mirror.

4. TAG Toys Tumble Down Pegs
This set comes with 10 pegs and 10 interchangeable plates. The number on each plate has been carved in so it can be easily traced, which my son does naturally. After inserting the pegs a quick pull on the handle sends them tumbling down.
5. Safari Ltd Incredible Creatures Set
The Incredible Creatures line from Safari Ltd are high quality replicas. Most are sized appropriately for a younger child. I prefer these for both the detail and the fact that they are phthalate free. The offerings are unusual and well beyond your typical farm animal set. This is set 2. There are three sets total or you can purchase them individually.

6. Guidecraft 1 to 5 Ring Counter
Initially, my children simply enjoy putting the rings on the pegs. They would match colors and count the rings further down the road.


7. Remo Kids Percussion Floor Tom
As a classically trained percussionist, I absolutely adore the Remo line of percussion instruments for children. This is a real drum that produces a loves sound. It is raised off the ground so the lovely bass tone can resonate. The drum comes with two mallets. My youngest loved banging on this drum as soon as he could sit up.

8. Learning Resources Staking Shapes Pegboard
While I'm typically not a fan of plastic toys, this one has captivated all three of my children for years. It is simple enough for my youngest to stack while my older children love to sort and stack by color and shape.


9. Melissa and Doug Primary Lacing Beads
These lacing beads are wonderful for a toddler. Not only are the shapes large but the holes are generous. The included laces are thick making them stiffer and a bit easier to thread. Given that these do include laces, this is something I only allow my children to use with my supervision.


10. Sarah's Silk Mini Playsilk
Playsilks are fun for a large range of ages but this size is perfect for a toddler.


11. Fisher Price Learning Piggy Bank
Yes, I am actually including a Fisher Price toy. :-) This gift has become a favorite. It's actually quite challenging to put the coins in the slot. The side them opens to retrieve the coins. It is reminiscent of the Montessori toddler coin bank. Yes, it takes batteries which you can decide if you wish to remove. This is good gift suggestion for family members who insist on buying toys.


12. I'm a Bunny Book
We adore books and already have more than I can count.  However, this one stands out as a favorite for my younger crowd.  The artwork is exceptionally engaging.  Even I enjoy studying the illustrations.



13. Hoberman Sphere
This sphere begins at 9.5 inches and expands to 30 inches.  I can't fully explain why this is so engaging but we are all enthralled with it.


14. Buddha Board
The Buddha Board is incredibly in its simplicity.  The board darkens in color with the addition of water and nothing more.  Then as quickly as the designs appear they begin to fade as the board dries.  It's available in several colors as well as a smaller size.

15. Plan Toy Pull Along Snail
This pull along toy is delightful.  The snail inches along as the toy is pulled.  It is a top three favorite for my youngest.



Bonus! Melissa and Doug Latches Board
Don't get hung up on the age recommendation for this one.  My children have all had a strong interest in this board around 1 year of age, working at it for long spans of time even if they weren't able to initially work all the latches.


And stay tuned for my fifteen favorites for preschoolers and kindergartens later this week.

In the interest of full disclosure, the links provided are Amazon Affiliate links.
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