Taming the Sprinkler

Aiden has never really loved water parks, or playing in sprinklers, because he has an aversion to getting water in his face. His ears are his most sensitive area (something that comes of having a very sensitive middle ear). Over time, through swimming and lots of exposure and just age, it’s getting better. And, as you can see, we’ve made a lot of progress!

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I actually took a lot of pains to find a sprinkler that was more tame. Most sprinklers these days are kind of over-the-top either spraying in many directions or shooting around or being gigantic. Who would have thought a simple sprinkler would be hard to find? I found this Melissa & Doug sprinkler last year and it’s been a hit. You can control how how it goes and it stays fixed and really not over-the-top. For younger children, or children who are more hesitant around water, it’s a great option. 

Damien’s New Bells

If you were to ask me what Damien likes to play with, I would probably tell you “not much,” since he’s really not interested in toys. You can direct him toward a toy or a puzzle or an activity, but on his own he mostly walks around in his own little world singing songs and randomly playing bits here and there. He will initiate pretend play, particularly in playgroup settings (he loves to make food in pretend kitchens), but at home he mostly gravitates to our instrument bin. 

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Our instrument bin contains everything under the sun, from drums and maracas to tambourines and xylophones and whistles and a little ukelele. Our latest addition is a set of Hand Bells, which at first I was hesitant to buy. Who wants that many bells? At first, we bought just one, but Damien lost it and he was miserable. We looked everywhere and it wasn’t until weeks later that we discovered it in the umbrella stand. 

So, we purchased the whole set, gave him one bell to replace the lost one, and gave him the rest for his birthday. As you can see, it was a hit. He carries those bells around with him and was so proud to show everyone his new bells. 

This kid LOVES music. He loves to sing, loves to make up songs, loves to drum out a beat to any song and is content making music all. day. long. 

Stocking Stuffers for a 4-Year-Old

Shopping for stocking stuffers is one of my all-time favourite things to do. I love finding just the right items for my kids. I buy stocking stuffers all through the year as I see them in stores, though I also buy a few select things online.

Stocking stuffers age 4

When Aiden was just over 1 year old, I shared with you the items I was putting into his stocking. Although I missed this gift list tradition, I’m picking it back up featuring the things I am excited to put in his stocking now that he’s 4 years old. These gifts are all quite gender-neutral, so they would work for a boy or a girl!

Stocking Stuffer Ideas for a 4 Year Old

  1. The gift of music – I believe encouraging a love of music is important in all its forms – and that includes whistles! I always give a small instrument as a gift or stocking stuffer. This year Aiden is getting a recorder and Damien is getting a kazoo, though my top suggestion for small and inexpensive is an harmonica
  2. LEGO – whether you are getting larger sets as gifts or not, there are some amazing small Creator sets that are perfect for the stocking. This year we purchased the LEGO Creator Mini Skyflyer, which turns into 3 different aircraft.
  3. Bath Crayons – I love bath crayons and markers, but they never seem to last a full year!
  4. Art supplies – art supplies make up a big portion of my stocking. This year I have glow-in-the-dark pirate stickers, glitter glue pens, themed-markers, and the Usborne Monster Doodles wipe-clean cards.
  5. Candy airplane – a Candy Pop Fan is the real name for what he asked Santa for.
  6. Chocolate – of course! I usually put in a couple of Christmas-shaped chocolates, but nothing excessive
  7. Candy – I bought some sugar-free fruit gummies and only a couple of novelty sweets like a Santa Pez, a gourmet candy cane from Whole Foods and a candy-filled school bus.
  8. Games – small games like Go Fish or Spot It! also fit perfectly in a stocking.

If you are looking for more ideas for other age-ranges, check out my list of Stocking Stuffer Ideas for a 1 Year Old.

For US residents, the above links (where appropriate) are to Canadian sites. You can find many of the same items on Amazon.com here: recorderkazooharmonicaLEGO Creator Mini Skyflyer, bath crayons, glitter glue, Usborne Monster Doodles, Candy Pop FanSpot It!

Top Uncommon Gifts for Kids

If you are looking for uncommon gifts, you may just find them at UncommonGoods! I was lucky enough to be able to choose a gift for Aiden this holiday season, which he in turn was lucky enough to play with before Christmas! It took me a long time to narrow my list down from all the wonderful options at UncommonGoods, but I’m happy to share with you some of my Top Uncommon Gifts for Kids, as well as a review of the two toys we received.

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Uncommon Gifts for Kids

Uncommong gifts 

  1. Pallina – as pictured with the family on the left, the goal of this game by Hape is to remove the colour sticks without letting your own coloured balls fall. This was an easy game to introduce and offered us a fun alternative to board games during family game time. Aiden loved how hands on the game was and it’s a quick game to play several times. It’s definitely a little larger than I expected though!
  2. Ogobild Hub – as pictured with Aiden on the top right, the Ogobild Hub is a construction toy with endless possibilities. Add feet, wheels, loops, propellers and more! Although at first the pieces are hard to put in, your little engineer will soon be inspired to create endless creatures and contraptions. Aiden quickly moved past his desire to create a creature exactly like on the box, which he’s yet to do with Lego. I call this a win!
  3. Custom Book Adventure – create a custom pirate adventure or a custom fairy book with your child’s name, hair colour, home town and more. How cute is that?! This is one of my top picks for next year!
  4. Storymatic for Kids or Rory’s Story Cubes – bring out the creativity in your kids by encouraging storytelling with prompt cards or blocks. I think these games could get many years of play, which is hard to come by. This is a for sure gift for next year from us!
  5. Make Your Own Snowglobe – I’m a little obsessed with DIY projects, so I love this kit. If your child likes to make things with Play-Doh or clay, I think they’d be ready for this kit.
  6. Stormy Seas Balancing Game – we have a similar game with a sailboat and it’s fun to challenge problem-solving on where to balance the items. Nothing complex – just a quick game. 

About UncommonGoods

UncommonGoods was founded in 1999 in NewYork and endeavours to feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts that are environmentally friendly – half of what is sold is made by hand, and a third is recycled or up-cycled. I spent a lot of time browsing the website wishing I hadn’t already finished my Christmas shopping! Luckily, I added a few ideas to next year’s list (and yes, I do have an app for that). 

If you are looking for some unique Christmas gifts, particularly some funky stocking stuffers or other gifts for women, you may just find them at UncommonGoods. If you have read my Guys’ Guide to Stocking Stuffers and are still searching for the right gifts, check out this scarf and the Storymatic game – both of which fit my stocking stuffer tips!

Disclosure: We received toys for review, the opinions of which are my own. I was not asked to create a list post or in any way promote additional goods. I just like them!

We Knew He’d Be a Train Boy

Even before he was born, we must have known that Aiden was a train boy… 

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Aiden can’t get enough of his trains… of his toy trains, of reading train books (that’s a post of its own!), of watching train movies or of riding the miniature trains at Confederation Park. When his independent play emerged in full swing, it was through his trains that it was most widely expressed. His imagination creates an endless supply of stories that can keep him occupied for hours going around and around the same track – it’s amazing! Just watch:

Almost every day, Aiden leaves the house clutching a train. His preferred trains to take from home are Toby, from the Thomas and Friends series, or his “big orange train“, a diesel train he got from Lonsdale Quay. He was obsessed with the Polar Express, though we put that series away until next year, and has recently become obsessed with watching videos on YouTube about miniature trains (ride-on or model railway). We also downloaded some Chuggington videos, though I prefer the Thomas stories.