I wish Melissa & Doug had been around when my children were small – I do believe they would have been my best friends! The company is committed to tech-free play and has created products which promote problem solving and creativity, develop social skills and sharpen cognitive skills – all so very important in a child’s development.
I think what Melissa & Doug does very well is understand the child as a whole and caters for their developing needs. And the quality of their products is just brilliant – we all know I love a wooden toy but they have so much more – designed to be robust, versatile, and still of interest over many years. BrightMinds have a huge range of Melissa & Doug products aimed predominantly at the early years to upper KS1 but with some activities and toys which older children will love equally as much.
There is something immediately appealing about this wooden train filled with farm animals! Aimed at 18 months plus, the pieces are brightly painted and chunky enough to be grabbed by the smallest hands. They stand up on their own with a gently rock on their curved bases. Popping the animals into their carriages starts your child using all manner of skills (over and above the gross and fine motor skills). Decision making and problem solving come into play – Is there an order in which they should go? What happens if the carriages come apart? Encourage your little one to tell you the story of the animals – where are they going? Where have they been? Who is the driver of the train? And so on.
I love a shape sorter and this shape sorting clock is just brilliant for your young ones! Again, the colours are bright and attractive, the pieces are lovely chunky wood and there is a definite purpose to the activity. Lots of skills to develop here as well and a great opportunity for some family time as you can discuss the colours, the numbers, the shapes and begin to think about telling the time.
You can introduce the 2D shape names (yes, I know these are 3D – you can do those as well if your child is at that stage!) I get very happy at the pieces 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8 which all have the same amount of sides as their number! Feel free to throw in a bit of maths language history for the shape prefixes: tri means three (Greek and Latin) – a triangle literally has three angles, quad means four (Latin - a square is a quadrilateral), penta = 5 (Greek), hexa = 6 (Greek) and octo = 8 (Greek and Latin)!
Story telling plays a huge part in the Melissa & Doug catalogue. There is an enormous range of roleplaying accessory sets and dressing up costumes with which children can devise wonderful re-enactments of the world around them and build a whole other universe of fantasy. I really do get excited about this puppet theatre, though, as it brings together so many different elements of storytelling, drama and an endless delve into creativity and imagination.
One of my favourite end of year projects with my classes would be to build a stage with working curtains and lights (lovely pulley systems and circuits!). The children would write their own play (using all the devices of script writing), make their puppets, advertise the play, rehearse it, learn the lines, perform it and then bask in the glow of a job well done!
There really is something for every child in the Melissa & Doug range and with Christmas looming on the horizon, now is the perfect time to have a peruse!
by Allie White, educational consultant to BrightMinds
As a parent and former-teacher, Allie has a hands-on approach to home learning, believing that the best learning is done together in a relaxed environment.
Our mission at BrightMinds is to foster “a brighter way to play” to inspire your child to be curious about the world around them & encourage creativity in a fun & relaxed way.
We curate a world-class range of educational toys, games, gifts & books which are good quality, safe and backed by our extraordinary customer service. Melissa & Doug toys are our speciality and a Melissa & Doug toy from BrightMinds is a wonderful gift for your special girl or boy. Backed by our 90 day guarantee we are the number one site for thoughtful toys for kids!