The shops may be adorned with brightly coloured plastic toys that do everything from recite the Chinese alphabet to pooing themselves (yes really) but what if you want something more stylish for your little one? Classy doesn’t mean boring it just means more interesting, and a break from the norm for many young minds this Christmas. Here’s our pick of the most interesting, ethical, educational or just good old fashioned fun toys for tots.
Invest in a Wheelybug for your 1-3 year old in a Bee Design and you’ll be helping to save the rare Shrill Carder Bee from extinction. Manufacturers Hippychick donate a percentage of proceeds of Christmas sales of the Bee Wheelybug to the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a national charity devoted to raising awareness of the plight of Bumblebees. The Wheelybug Bees can be delivered for Christmas complete with activity sheets designed to encourage children to develop an appreciation of the humble bumble and the vital role that bees play in our lives. The Bee Wheelybug retails at £59.95 (suitable for ages 1-3) and £69.95 (suitable for ages 2-5) and is available from Hippychick.com .
It’s a testament to a toys staying power when you want to bbuy the same thing for your offspring as you had all those years ago. And though nostalgic there’s nothing outdated about PlayMobil. With sets ranging from £10 to £100 there are great scenes to create from animal ark’s to fairylands and dragon lairs. Boys and girls will love playing make believe with the colourful characters, and they still have the same haircuts all these years later!
How do you get your children to understand when it’s time to get up? An age-old question, but now there’s a very good answer – “stay in bed until you see the sun!” This cute clock uses images of the stars and sun to communicate when to go back to sleep and when it’s time to get up. There’s a feature allowing parents to choose whether or not to display the digital clock during the usual ‘stars to sun’ countdown, so older children can start to learn digital time, as well as look for the arrival of the sun. The Gro-clock, priced at £24.99 direct from the Gro website, also comes with a beautifully illustrated book which helps to encourage children to stay in bed longer, which means more sleep for them and, more importantly, more sleep for you!
Phonics with Peppa
With eight great games, Peppa Pig guides children through the activities to learn about phonics, spelling, letters, first words and more, while having lots of fun. The brightly coloured buttons light up during play and feature everyday objects, as well as some favourite characters from every kid’s favourite show, including Suzy Sheep, Danny Dog and Emily Elephant. At £19.99 it’s a good investment for Peppa fans and will keep them amused for hours.
Night Garden Projector Torch
This great stocking filler from KD Planet is fun before bedtime as kids twist the torch to project images of their favourite In The Night Garden characters onto any surface in a darkened room. With two game modes, preschoolers can learn about colours, numbers and shapes with the help from Igglepiggle and his friends. Features original character sounds and five great tunes during light projection, RRP £14.99.
The perfect gift to help children with their reading, writing and listening skills. Kids just touch the pen to the colourful books to hear the words read aloud and sound out the words, or use the special no- mess paper to practice letters, numbers and words with stroke-by-stroke guidance. LeapReader, priced at £39.99, even plays vocabulary building games, and the fun character voices, sound effects and activities all help with comprehension skills for children aged four to eight.
This brightly coloured elephant shaped jigsaw has five numbered pieces with corresponding dots and numbers, helping children to learn as they play. Handmade in Sri Lanka from durable albesia wood, Jumbois a FairTrade present you’ll feel good about giving. A nice stocking filler at £6 from www.traidcraftshop.co.uk
These double-layered toddler dress up towels keep little ones snug as a bug, while incorporating play into the sometimes stressful task of getting them out of the bath and ready for bed! The towels come in a range of animal designs including dragons, ladybirds, cows and giraffes, but the cute reindeer one is our perfect pick for Christmas. They are made from organic cotton and eco friendly bamboo fibre, and the two layered design means they can dry a babe in minutes. From £34.99-£39.99 at www.cuddledry.com.