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.
Uncommon Gifts for Kids
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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).
My friends and family know that I can’t handle clutter in certain areas of my life, particularly with toys. Our living room uses a combination of existing cabinet space in our tv unit as well as two cube shelving units with removable bins. Our original configuration had just one unit, but we’ve since turned the unit upright and purchased a second one. Toys have a way of multiplying as kids get older! ;)
As our collection of outdoor toys grew, they became more unsightly and unruly. We had a big tupperware bin to store them in, but it was always impossible to find the “right” kind of ball for the sport Aiden wanted to play. I spent several months measuring our outdoor space and trying to find a storage unit that would accommodate the bin-based organizing that works for our family while also standing up to the elements. Harder than you’d think!
Although there are a couple of cube-based storage solutions in wood available online, they only came in very restricted sizes and we worried that they wouldn’t stand up to the rain in Vancouver, even if they were partially covered. Most garden sheds, we found, are quite large and difficult to customize with shelves (in fact, most don’t come with shelves at all).
We opted for the Rubbermaid Vertical Garden Shed that, while quite narrow in depth, still offered a large volume of storage space. The shed came with two wire shelves (must be a new addition, since it’s not on the manufacturer’s website) and a template to cut up to 2 more shelves. With 4 shelves installed, I went to a few different dollar stores to find bins that were the right size and really lucked out with tall bins in co-ordinating colours. I was able to split the toys into 7 of these bins, while keeping the taller toys stacked to the front of the shelves. I have a larger bin of balls at low level for easy access, along with some s-hooks to store things like our sprinkler. I just had to make labels as well.
Our back patio looks so much better with these toys tucked away. I’d like to say that’s all the toys, but we also have the bigger dump trucks, ride-ons and bikes stacked against the wall. Still, at least it’s neatly lined up now!
Even before he was born, we must have known that Aiden was a train boy…
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 Thomasstories.
For Christmas, Santa gave Aiden his very first board game: the I Can Do That Games Curious George – Discovery Beach. The premise of the game is to find hidden treasures. You select cards, look under the panels, and find the matching objects. You shake up the box so that the items always move about to different places on the board or become buried / unburied in the sand.
We don’t follow the rules of the game yet: we let Aiden look under all the panels, not using the spinning wheel, and we don’t collect cards we’ve ‘won’. So far, we lay out several cards for Aiden and he chooses one to look for – he will pull up panels until he finds what’s on his card, though sometimes we have to shake up the box again.
Aiden has a lot of fun playing this game. He loves looking for the cards that are more open ended, “any brown” or “any shell”, and cheers whenever he finds a matching item. He’ll happily sit and play this game with us for a solid half hour.
Aiden is a huge fan of the Thomas and Friends franchise. He actually received his first set of Thomas trains when we were still in the hospital with him!
Since then, his collection of trains has grown to include 3 different sets as well as a few extra train pieces. If we had more room, we would for sure have a train table. Until then, Aiden makes do with various smaller configurations of trains on the floor – always featuring at least one hill. He loves hills and bridges.
Aiden’s favourite train is Percy, so we got him a motorized Percy for Christmas. It caused a little bit of initial frustration for Aiden, when he couldn’t push it on his own, so now he has a classic wooden one too.
Aiden’s love of Thomas and Friends includes many toys and books, including:
Aiden may love Thomas, but it’s not yet an obsession. He’ll read about any train; his current favourite train books include Busy Trains and The Little Engine That Could. Additionally, while you’d expect Aiden to watch a lot of Thomas videos, he actually prefers Dora the Explorer.