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Thursday 24 September 2020

Play-Based Learning Gifts for 3 year olds

Are you looking for gifts suitable for a 3 year old, which also have an element of 'learning through play'? Within this post, I will be showing you some of my top choices for play-based learning gifts for three year olds, and explaining which areas of development they help to cover...

play based learning gifts for 3 year olds

NB: Some of these items were gifted items for us to review honestly for the purpose of this post. Some items we bought ourselves and others are from my own shop ChildLedPlay.co.uk. This post may contain affiliate links. Any gifted or affiliate items will be highlighted with an asterisk next to them. 

It can sometimes be tricky to see the learning potential with certain toys and resources, or, to know which areas of learning you should be focusing on at this stage. This blog post will guide you through some gift options and explain the learning opportunities available...

  Smelly Wellies by Orchard Toys*:

Aside from the humorous name that most children couldn't help but find hilarious,  this game is perfect for working on those early pairing and matching skills, recognising similarities and differences whilst also talking about shapes, patterns and colours. 

This game can be extended by turning over the wellies and playing a memory matching game, placing a pair of wellies onto a monster only once you have collected a matching set.

My children loved looking at the fun pictures on this one, and talking about which wellies suited which monster the best, swapping them around and mixing them up!

Swap a welly or two over and see if your child can spot the mistake!

(Click on the title link above to buy.)

smelly wellies game

A classic children's toy, and one that I'm sure many of us will remember from our own childhood (I know I do!) but have you considered the learning opportunities available with this one?

Learning to brush and handle hair and hair tools is a real skill for young children - it works on those upper body movements and shoulder rotations...arm and chest muscles and also fine motor skills when using smaller hair accessories. All of this gross and fine motor work helps to build up the muscles needed for writing later on, yet it doesn't feel like literacy does it?? It just feels like play - but the learning and development is still happening. 

Using a product such as this can also aid role play and speech and language development. My own daughter chats away to her girls world doll whilst doing her hair (and makeup!) discussing colour choices, and her plans for the day. 

The girls world does come with makeup already painted on her face, but this doesn't stop you adding your own if this is where your child's interest lies (like mine - Makeup obsessed!), which again helps with fine motor control,choosing colours for a purpose and handling tools and resources effectively.

The pink hair also grows or can be made shorter by pulling it through the head and is held in place with an attached string underneath .

My only point for improvement here would be that there was somewhere provided to keeo all of the small accessories, such as a small bag or a cover for the underneath of the doll where the items could be stored.

(Click the product title link for more info).

PS: If you would like to know how to braid your hair like the second photo, have a watch of my hair tutorial here: https://youtu.be/oIX2Fy2PYfU

John Adams girls world

The Natural Play Makeup Company - Little Stardust set*

Charlotte has really sensitive skin, and our only attempt at face paint last year left her with a sore and itchy face. She absolutely loves makeup and applying it to her own face. She regularly breaks in to my makeup bag and covers herself in it (luckily i tend to use bareminerals makeup which is very natural) which can become costly!

I was absolutely delighted to discover the The Natural Play Makeup Company who specialise in play makeup for children that is natural and wont irritate sensitive skin. The makeup in made from loose powders which are very subtle but you can also mix them with water to make face paints and create a stronger effect. They are AMAZING. Honestly, i'll be using these on myself! 

Charlotte was SO happy to use these and her little face when she looked in the mirror to apply it and saw the results was just lovely. Look how excited she is!

The mineral powders come in cardboard shaker tubes which are actually great at minimising the amount the comes out....unless your child sees you using the 'tap the end' trick and promptly copies at full force...do keep supervising!

It would have been nice to have a small dish included for mixing the powders with water, but then this was easily solved by using a snack pot lid, and any that was left over we just left the water to evaporate and were left with powder again at the end. 

This set has been so well thought out, plastic free packaging for the products themselves, lovely colours which aren't too bold and bright for little ones to experiment with and with eye catching designs that appeal to young children. 

I'd absolutely purchase this again or add more colours to the collection moving forward.

Perfect for early mark making skills using a variety of mediums, choosing colours for a purpose and fine motor control.

(More info in the product title link above)

the natural play makeup company

 A new take on a classic outdoor game of 'tig' - just without the contact 'push'! The rules of this game are the same as tig, you have to 'tig' someone for them to be 'on' and therefore be the the one who chases after everyone else and has to tig them until they are on....except...rater than a 'tig' with the hand ( which let's be honest, is usually a hit or a push) you have to throw the tig-tag toy at someone and if it hits them, then they are on. 

The toy is really light weight and very gentle upon impact. It does add a slightly trickier element to the game as you have to aim and throw rather than just hit someone, but this does give an extra bit of challenge. Its a bit like paint-balling, but without the paint and without the pain!

tig tag game

This little set is very well thought out, it folds up with a handle like a carry case - and all of the playdough and accessories are stored in the middle, making it great for taking out and about! On one side there is a vegetable patch and the other side has a picnic spread. Both children were able to play with this set together and enjoyed choosing the right colours to make different food, manipulating the dough with their hands and the tools provided and role playing their food growing and eating!

NB: for children with allergies, you an find gluten free playdough sets here.

picnic patch play stuff

Memory games are brilliant for developing and working on a range of different skills. At the very basic level, you are teaching and asking your child to follow instructions, and notice carefully the differences and similarities between pictures. For the youngest children, the easiest way to play this is to have all of the cards facing upwards with their images on display - then, ask your child to find matching pairs just by looking and comparing. For older children, you can play this game as it is intended - with all images turned over, with the challenge of finding a pair by attempting to remember where certain images were. 

The bright colours and fun pictures in this game are much more visually stimulating and exciting for children than other traditional versions of this game, and we have used them as story telling aids too!

superhero city memory game

If you're looking for a fun and exciting way of encouraging writing and mark making in young children, then this fairy spell writing kit from ChildLedPlay.co.uk is jut the thing! It includes items to spark curiosity and imagination such as a glass potion bottle with fairy crystals, a magical key with wing, a natural fairy mixing bowl, magical mini pumpkins, and a tiny letter from a fairy. Fairy peg dolls are also available separately to really bring the magic alive!

fairy spell writing set

This Curvy board from Young and Learning is absolutely fantastic for physical development in young children. It helps to work on balance and co-ordination, teamwork, the trajectory schema, sensory feedback and also role play when using it in alternative ways! 

The nice thing about this company is that they are supported by Cambridge Social Ventures, with a social cause to support child development through play, and an environmental cause to reduce waste in toys.

We bought the curvy plus, which is their biggest board and is string enough for adults to use too!

Click on the product title link for more info. 

curvy board plus

Loose parts are great for open ended play, allowing your child to take ownership of their learning and play and select items and objects for any purpose that they choose, without it being too prescribed!

Whether using it for role play food, pattern making, filling and pouring, counting or sorting, loose parts are a versatile resource to include within your play set up at home. Childledplay.co.uk has a number of loose parts such as chickpea pearls, felt acorns, felt balls,  and natural items, as well as treasure baskets, play sets and gluten free playdough kits.

Add in some vintage bowls and containers and you have a wonderful set up that no child would be able to resist!

Smaller loose parts are perfect for working on the pincer grip - but please remember that adult supervision is required at all times as they are a choking risk.


felt acorns

mini pastel rainbow felt balls

Which play resources do you find works best for learning through play?

Sarah x 
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