Decorating a Tree with a Toddler

If you have a toddler who likes to “get into things,” you’ll be glad to know you can successfully have a Christmas tree! Last year, I was very worried that my little rule breaker would be kind of nuts with the Christmas tree. I wasn’t keen to involve him in the tree decorating process until the very last moment, when all the ornaments are set up for the kids to help and the lights were on the tree.

As happens so often, life didn’t work out like that. We weren’t able to get our tree on the day we expected, and I wasn’t able to get the lights up while Damien was asleep or napping, so we made do. Any it was surprisingly… awesome. Damien was interested in the process, but very surprisingly did not ask to be picked up (too much) or whine or destroy things during the process. 

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As you can see, Damien was very interested in what was going on with the tree.

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He loved the tree topper. Stars were a particular obsession of his at the time.

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He was keen to help hang ornaments too! We don’t have many breakable ornaments (and those that do are hung high by me), but the one above did bear teeth marks from when a little mouth bit it last year. I think we ended up having to move a couple of ornaments up during the following weeks, and sometimes had to replace ornaments taken down to explore, but generally speaking it was great! It’s amazing how quickly the kids were able to consider the tree just a part of the “background” after a while.

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We made it to Christmas morning! 

Stocking Stuffers for a 2-Year Old

If you have a 2-year-old, you know they are right on the verge of some major developmental milestones. Between age 2 and 3, their interests completely shift and they leave behind being a “baby” or “toddler” and move right into being a “preschooler.” Their interests and capabilities can emerge very quickly! Providing them with toys and tools that are open-ended can give them hours (and years) of fun. So, when it comes to putting presents in a stocking for a 2-year-old, I focus on things that are both fun for now and for later in addition to any chocolates or candies that may sweeten the deal. 

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Having had a 2-year-old already, I know that these items are both fun for a 2 year old and can last for several years to come! The BEST STOCKING STUFFERS FOR A 2-YEAR OLD are:

  1. Stickers of their favourite characters! A great tip for using stickers with little ones is to remove the “background” sticker portion, which allows them to easily pull up individual stickers on their own.
  2. A book that will still grow with your child. The Pete the Cat series is fantastic right past Kindergarten. Other favourites of this age include anything Robert Munsch or non-fiction books on farming or seasons or particular interests of theirs (like trains, cars, instruments etc). Damien is getting Stick Man this year.
  3. A musical instrument like a maraca, bells, recorder, kazoo or harmonica
  4. Play-Doh tools. Our favourites are a good solid roller, scissors and a fun press. This s a great basic kit you can disassemble to put in a stocking! Dollar stores often have knock-off sets that work as well.
  5. Scissor skills begin around age 2. Get a good set of scissors with a wide finger grip, metal pieces and that are not too dull (or you will end up frustrating your child) are a great investment. Some sets come with fun crimpers and other shapes.
  6. Pocket Etch-A-Sketch makes for a great car or restaurant toy. The larger Etch-A-Sketch is a classic toy, but I love mini items!! Both my 2 and 5 year old are getting one this year.
  7. Fun art supplies like glitter glue or smelly markers (my choice this year)
  8. A bath submarine or other small bath toy – this submarine has been a favourite bath toy for both of my boys, even though we have never introduced the baking powder!
  9. Bath colours or bubble bath – we take bathing seriously! Bubble bath, colour tablets, shaving cream to paint with, bath crayons, and bubbles to blow in the the bath are all great gifts to fill stockings!

See also my Stocking Stuffers for a 5 Year OldStocking Stuffers for a 4 Year OldStocking Stuffers for a 1 Year Old, and a Guys’ Guide to Stocking Stuffers for Her.

Joining Soccer in Kindergarten: Some Thoughts

This September, Aiden started with the North Vancouver Football Club, which is our local soccer organization. I have always been against “organized” sport before age 5, since I think play really is the most important thing. Up until now, Aiden has dabbled in sport through a Summer sport ball program (which he loved), gymnastics at Flicka (which he loved), and swimming (which he doesn’t love). 

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I think swimming is an essential program until a child knows how to swim, though we have come to the conclusion that private classes may be better for Aiden. That aside, I wanted him involved in another physical sport of some kind, to keep up the importance of physical activity. We do walk to and from school almost every day, but establishing a love of fitness is important to me. 

I had originally thought of registering Aiden in Flicka again, but I think now that Damien is older, we can no longer exclude him from these things… in part because it’s difficult to schedule a weekend activity where only one participates. The classes for both boys at Flicka didn’t line up this year. So, at the time I was weighing the options, Aiden expressed an interest in joining soccer and I jumped on it. It was late to register, but I went for it. 

The North Vancouver Football Club divides teams up by age and location, so I figured we would be ok having 1 weekly practice and 1 weekly game somewhere close by. It turns out, our “local” practice is near Grouse Mountain right at dinner time, so our practice day is a little hectic, schedule wise. The Seymour catchment actually practices down the street from us… had we known, that would have been perfect. And our “local” game is at Norgate at the worst time of day for Aiden – 12:30, when he really needs downtime.  

So, soccer for us has been a little challenging. At times, Aiden has done nothing more than cry during a game or ask to sit out. The Saturday game day alternates between 2 games or skills and a mini game. Aiden responds very well to the skills and to the skill-portion of his practices, but he tunes out when it comes to games. He has no interest in the competitive nature of the games and the child excited about soccer quickly turns into a child moping around the field.

We have toyed with the idea of letting Aiden drop out of soccer, but I have tried to teach him the importance of “team” and of supporting his team, even during times he doesn’t feel like he’s having fun. There are times when he has a lot of fun, and he loves his teammates, so it’s a real challenge. 

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During the year so far, Aiden’s skills have improved quite a lot. He has a lot more control over the ball and is learning how to support the other members of his team. One of the reasons I jumped on putting him in soccer was that many kids start at this age and develop their base skills. If he had expressed an interest in soccer in 2 years, he would have been so much further behind the kids who started at his age. This way, if he wants to step back for a year, I feel like he has a base of skills to fall back on if the interest ever arises again. But perhaps his interest will continue to pick up, we’ll have to see!

Should I have spoken with Aiden about what joining soccer really meant? Yes. Should I have looked at other options to let him play soccer? Perhaps. 

What are your opinions on early introduction to team sport?

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Stocking Stuffers for a 5-Year Old

I spend the whole year thinking about and purchasing the perfect gifts, big and small, for my little family. If you’re stuck thinking beyond the standard chocolate and candy fare, or want to go a different route, I bring you a list of mostly gender-neutral stocking stuffers your 5 year old will love! These are items already stored away for my 5-year old boy, Aiden!

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I am one of those people who shops for Christmas all year long. I have drawers and bins stashed around the house filled with gifts and stocking stuffers for everyone. I keep track of all my ideas and purchases in an app, so I know both what I have and what I think would be good to purchase. This year I’ve filtered out my best ideas and bring you the TOP GIFTS FOR A 5-YEAR OLD! Customize these items to girl or boy and you’re set for Christmas!

  1. Pencil Sharpener – You can never have enough of these, particularly ones that catch the shavings. My son loves to sharpen his pencils and pencil crayons, so this year I got him a special train-shaped one at an antique store, but any sharpener will do!
  2. Lego Minifigures are a great way to expand the play of your Lego set, plus it’s exciting to see what you’ll end up with!
  3. Pocket Etch-A-Sketch makes for a great car or restaurant toy. The larger Etch-A-Sketch is a classic toy, but I love mini items!!
  4. Cubebot brain teaser puzzle, mini is a recent find of mine from a local toy store. My son was enamoured with the little cube that transforms to a robot and it comes in a variety of colours
  5. Calendar is great for your child’s room or the fridge. Children love to know when special events or days are coming up, plus it’s a great way to reinforce days of the week, months and reading skills. 
  6. A travel size game like Qwirkle allows you to expand your gaming library without infringing on your storage space. Many travel-sized games are not actually more difficult to use, but offer the benefit of more compact and sturdy packaging (zipped pouches or tins). Qwirkle is a game I’ve wanted for a while!
  7. A wallet or coin purse is a lot of fun for your child, but also helps them learn how to manage their money. Whether they are spending their own money or you offer them a chance to pay for their own items (like a lunch or ice cream you would have usually paid for on their behalf), it’s a fun chance to learn!
  8. A kids magazine or chapter book like Flat Stanley, Geronimo Stilton or Magic Tree House. These are great introductory chapter books for parents to read or for early readers
  9. Lego Creator kits come in all sizes. The small ones like the train are great because they fit in the stocking, but can be used over and over creating the 3 different models. So much more open-ended than a single set would be!

I believe that you can give quality and useful gifts in a stocking without having to break the bank. You can find many quality art supplies at dollar stores, from stencils to glitter glue and pencil crayons, and even some games and books. If you avoid the poor quality dollar store toys and instead focus on items of use, you can create hours and days of fun for very little!

See also my Stocking Stuffers for a 4 Year Old, Stocking Stuffers for a 1 Year Old, Stocking Stuffers for a 2 Year Old and a Guys’ Guide to Stocking Stuffers for Her.

Stocking Stuffers for a 5 Year Old

By Arieanna Schweber

TOP GIFTS FOR A 5-YEAR OLD

  • Lego Creator Kit

    By Arieanna Schweber

    Small Lego Creator Kits like the train are great because they fit in the stocking, but can be used over and over creating the 3 different models. So much more open-ended than a single set would be!

  • Early Chapter Book or Magazine

    By Arieanna Schweber

    A kids magazine or chapter book like Flat Stanley, Geronimo Stilton or Magic Tree House. These are great introductory chapter books for parents to read or for early readers

  • Wallet or Coin Purse

    By Arieanna Schweber

    Both fun and great for learning about money! 

  • Travel Sized Game

    By Arieanna Schweber

    A travel size game like Qwirkle allows you to expand your gaming library without infringing on your storage space. 

  • Calendar

    By Arieanna Schweber

    Children love to know when special events or days are coming up, plus it’s a great way to reinforce days of the week, months and reading skills. 

  • Cubebot

    By Arieanna Schweber

    My son was enamoured with the little cube that transforms to a robot and it comes in a variety of colours

  • Lego Minifigures

    By Arieanna Schweber

    Minifigs are a great way to expand the play of your Lego set, plus it’s exciting to see what you’ll end up with!

  • Pencil Sharpener

    By Arieanna Schweber

    You can never have enough of these, particularly ones that catch the shavings.

Celebrating BC Playthings with Charlotte Diamond

BC Playthings has been an anchor in North Vancouver’s Edgemont Village for the past 38 years. BC Playthings has always had a focus on quality toys for kids, not gimmicks or poor quality toys. The toys have always been the anchor toys that allow for open-ended play with kids. Though the physical store is small, you are always sure to find a gem in store or online. The store recently welcomed new ownership, after flying under the flag of Pat Gallaher for all of these past years.

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Today they celebrated their 38 years with a huge celebration in Edgemont featuring Charlotte Diamond, a children’s performer that I recall with fondness from my own childhood. I’ll need to revisit some of her songs with my own children! We had a great time at the concert and picked up some amazing toys for the kids for Christmas. 

I have been jotting down my wish list of toys and games for the kids all year (I use an app on my phone to jot down gift ideas for all of us – myself included – to simplify shopping for birthdays and holidays) and it was nice to mark others as ‘purchased’! I am so happy to see my list of items purchased growing, even before we hit December. I’m one of those ‘early’ shoppers, but it takes all the stress out of the holidays and lets me just enjoy the time we spend with family. 

Today you can get 10% off your purchases at BC Playthings. If you have items on your list, or are looking for inspiration, you have a couple hours to go shopping today!

If you are looking for gift inspiration, stay tuned for my series of Gift Guides for kids and adults alike!