Dream Big this Holiday Season

The holiday season is already upon us, and therefore, gift giving is just around the corner!

Are you in search for the perfect present to give your loved ones?  

I partnered up with Mastermind Toys again this year, and my kids and I brought along my best friend Marlena Ochnik with her toddler A.

I know that I generally blog about early childhood education, the Reggio Emilia philosophy, my workshops, and all things creative, however, sometimes it's kind of nice to let you inside my world as a Mommy...

Now that I also wear the parent hat, I am beginning to realize this notion of finding the perfect gift in a whole new light.  As a kindergarten teacher, I always equipped the classroom with materials that I felt were stimulating and enriching to learning.  There was just something about purchasing a new item and seeing the looks on the students' faces when they discovered it! None of this has changed for me, in fact I value the experience even more now...  I guess seeing the excitement in my son's eyes makes all the time and effort worth it!

And in case you are wondering, even though he's just shy of two years old, he already knows exactly what he likes and wants!!  Of course I do my best to listen and pay attention...

Here are the top 5 gift considerations that I love to give and appreciate receiving for my own kids or classroom spaces:

  1. Anything creative - Visual Arts, Music, Drama, or Dance
  2. Books, books, and more BOOKS!
  3. Wooden toys and puzzles
  4. Open ended materials that can be used in multiple ways
  5. Whatever I can find that encourages exploration and inquiry learning (outdoors, indoors, water play, etc.)

If we want our kids to dream BIG (the theme for Mastermind Toys' 2017 gift guide) then we need to start thinking outside of the box!

What we provide them with in the early years, for instance the toys/materials that they interact with, will set the stage for their future learning.

Marlena shares some of her advice:

When going out shopping for holiday gifts, I always have the child in mind first! Once I know what excites a child or peaks their interest, I begin my search with that in mind. If a child likes art activities, I try to find items that allow for multiple experiences with the same item. For example, a play-dough set or various paint sets. With this, you can then set up different types of play stations with the same object. Paint can we used on a canvas, foil, rocks, etc. This allows for endless and new forms of play with the same item. 
I also always love giving books that perhaps tie into the family's interests or the child's favourite things. This helps bring to life a story about something they can familiarize with. 

For older children, I love to get the puzzle books or activities books available at Mastermind. They provide thoughtful experiences for the child beyond the words. It also keeps their interest because the activities are varied and exciting. 

These are the types of gifts I also like to receive for my daughter because I like when a gift doesn't get old quickly - and if it's not engaging enough, that tends to happen. Multiple experiences with the item that foster creativity in the child are perfect for the holiday season. 

Here are some of our gift suggestions from our recent shopping experience at Mastermind Toys.  They are sure to get those little hands exploring and those young minds thinking!

While we were shopping, I was reminded of the gift guide that can be accessed online or with the help of toy experts in stores.  Using some of the images from their online shop and their gift finder tool, I created my #TransformEdFaves collage/wishlist:

Thank you to Mastermind Toys for reaching out to me again for this collaboration, and also to Marlena and A for joining our holiday gift search!

Wishing you all a pleasant shopping experience this holiday season, whether it's in person or online!  Just don't wait until it's too late!  

Special mention to the Richmond Hill store (and store manager Heather), where I used to work in university and their knowledgeable, helpful, and friendly staff.

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Please note that all of the above opinions and advice are my own or that of my friend...

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What are some of the toys on your/your children's/your students' wish lists this year?  Leave a comment below.  I am curious to read about new products!!


Never let it be said that to dream

is a waste of one's time,  for dreams are

our realities in waiting. 

In dreams, we plant the seeds of our future.

-author unknown

Share your thoughts :

  1. Actually, I am trying How to create dream big. Impressive written blog and valuable information shared here.