Why making the most use of the toys your child already owns is important?

Moose: Schleich, Red Deer: Schleich

If you ever feel overwhelmed by the number of toys your child has, or frustrated because the educational games that were meant to develop several important skills and cost you a fortune are now missing pieces, and your child hates them- you may find this article helpful.
My name is Gosia, and I show parents how to make the most use of toys their children already own, so they can save money, live more peacefully and create less waste.
I wrote a few free guides to educational activities featuring some popular toys for kids, and you can check them out here: animal figurines part I, animal figurines part II, vehicles, Lego Duplo

Why making the most use of the toys your child already owns is important? 

It boosts child's creativity
Kids have a limitless imagination, but with time, more and more borders appear in their minds. Society doesn't tolerate mistakes,  'stupid questions' and ignores the questions that require difficult answers. And at some point, children stop asking. And they have enough of people calling their ideas 'silly'.
The thing is that as teenagers and adults, we need that creativity to navigate our lives. So killing it is counter-productive. Teaching children how to make the most use of their belongings will help to nurture that creative sparkle in their minds. 
If they struggle to generate ideas, you can always help them by asking questions like- Which other toy you could use as an ambulance? What else could you use this toy for? What does the shape of this ball remind you of? 
Setting up invitations to play will be helpful too. Just pick a few random toys or objects that may not have much in common, and put them on a table, tray or rug. You will be amazed by the number of ideas your child comes up with. 
And just a quick reminder- if your child was never given space to expand and explore their creativity, please do not expect unbelievable results straight away. 

It teaches gratitude
Every object that we own was not only paid for with our hard-earned money but made by somebody that dedicated their precious time to their work. The designers, the manufacturers, the marketers, the shop owners, the delivery drivers, the shopping assistants, the cleaners- they all contributed to making things for us. 
If we understand that, and if we explain it to our kids, there is an opportunity for an important gratitude lesson here.

It helps to create a clutter-free space and saves time
The fewer things you have, the less time you need to maintain them. 
Studies have shown that children who have fewer toys are calmer simply because they aren't overwhelmed by clutter.

It helps to save money
I know just how overwhelming it is when you hear other parents talk about buying more and more toys. Then there are advertisements, bloggers, YouTubers, shop leaflets delivered to your door. Everyone wants you to buy something. Because every toy is 'educational', 'crucial for your child's growth', 'a must have'. Please remember that you do need to be keeping up with the Joneses.
We are lucky to have access to beautifully designed toys, and I truly appreciate their educational value, but let's be realistic.
If your child has 40 educational toys/games, 25 of them are missing some important pieces, 3 of them are probably at grandmas', and the dog just ate one of them, your child will make some use of only a few of them. 
But if they have 3-5 educational games related to what they are currently interested in, there is a big chance that they will make a lot of use out of these toys.
When you give your child a chance to make the most of their belongings, they won't have that constant urge for buying more and more toys. And you wont have that urge either. It feels good. 

It helps to reduce waste
When you make the most of the stuff you own, you buy less. When you buy less, you reduce waste. It's as simple as it sounds. 

Thank you for your time- I hope you found this article helpful. For more tips, please check out my Instagram

Have a beautiful day!
Gosia x


Montessori Practical Life: Striving for perfection

Hi! Today I want to talk to you all about striving for perfection and how that affects us, as parents and our children. 
In case you didn't know, I talk a lot about practical life skills over on my Instagram, as well as here, on my blog. If there is anything you would like to know, or get advice on, please leave a comment under this article, or send me a Direct Message on Instagram. I hope you enjoy reading. 

I often hear parents say that they don't want to teach their kids how to cook because they aren't that good cooks themselves. Or that they do not allow their kids to clean because a toddler or a preschooler will never do it perfectly. 

And that's the problem. We expect ourselves never to make mistakes and our kids to master skills without even having a chance to learn them. Or we never even try to teach them some practical life skills, because it either seems too hard, or we are afraid that we won't be able to come up with millions of activities every week.

That's not how it works. Your home is not a classroom, and you don't need to have 20 shelves with new activities on them every week. It is enough that when you water your plants, you invite your child to help you. Or when you are sorting the laundry, you sit your child next to you and explain that black clothes can not be washed with white clothes, or white with red. 

Then the next day, or next week, they help you put the laundry away.  You don't have to worry about having a strict plan, or activity schedule. You can just observe your child, see what they would like to learn, and invite them to help you. You don't need any special equipment. You don't need to invest any money at all, all it requires is a little bit of patience and consistency

Last year, I suddenly got very sick. It was just before the coronavirus officially hit the UK, and I was pretty much lifeless for 2 weeks straight. I never experienced anything like it before. One day, I needed to finally do the laundry, and Kian saw me trying to sort it and carry it to the washing machine. I struggled a lot. He stopped me, he took that dirty laundry, he put it into the machine, he put the powder and softener in, and he started the washing machine all by himself. And when the clothes were clean, he emptied the washing machine and helped me to hang them. He was only 3 years old. And even though for some people this may seem not very important, for me that day it meant everything. 

So what if your child doesn't vacuum properly under the table or doesn't fold the clothes perfectly? Let them do it once a week or once a month, and by the time they turn 18, they will be masters. These skills are crucial for life. Nothing annoys me more than parents expecting their kids to know how to adult the moment they turn 18, like if having an ID card was going to magically teach them how to budget the finances, cook, clean, apply for jobs, and repair their car. It's our job. And it's not scary or difficult at all. I promise.

That's all for today. Please let me know what is your experience, did your parents teach you any practical life skills? Did you start your adult life with confidence? Are you struggling with perfectionism? If so, how does it affect your role as a parent? I am really curious. Thanks for your time x



Montessori Practical Life: pre-cooking skills

Hi! Today I want to give you a few ideas for pre-cooking activities that will improve your child's confidence and teach them a few valuable skills that they can then use in the kitchen.

They would be perfect for toddlers, or older kids who never participated in preparing meals before.

Pouring is one of those things that children can help you with when cooking or baking. To practice this skill, you can set up a tray with two pitchers/ glasses/ jugs or bottles, and ask the child to pour the water from the right-hand container to the container on their left-hand side. If you want to, you can swap the water for tissue paper balls, rice or pom poms. If you are worried about your child using glass or china, provide them with plastic or bamboo containers. This activity will strengthen their hands, improve their visual-motor skills, and fine motor skills. Please give them a cloth to dry any spills. 

If you ever read any of my activity guides on my website, you know that I always recommend this activity. It's a fun way to work on focus and expanding children's attention span, and it strengthens their hands a lot. Kids can transfer any small objects from one container to another using wooden or metal tongs. These can be vehicles, Lego, Lego Duplo, stuffed animals, wooden blocks, plastic animals. Spoons. Anything. 

Scooping is so much fun. Give your child a container with paper balls/pom poms/conkers/rice or pasta and an empty container. And a few tools: spoons (teaspoons, tablespoons, salad spoons), wooden scoops, handy scoopers. Anything that you have at home and that is safe for them to use. Ask your child to scoop these items using the tools provided and to transfer them to an empty container. 

If you are worried about allowing your child to use a knife in the kitchen (I am talking about kids-friendly knives only), they can practice on playdough using a completely blunt playdough knife. This activity with boost their confidence, your confidence, and improve their grasp.

Thank you for your time today. Let me know if you found this article helpful. 
 If you need some more ideas on how to raise an independent and capable children, please check out the 'Practical Life' highlight on my Instagram Profile. Have an amazing day! 
Gosia x


Bird figurines for children- my reviews

Hi! I am coming with something new today. My son is obssesed with animals, and he has always been this way, therefore animal figurines are his absolutely favourite toys in the world. Anytime I talk about them either here, or on my Instagram, I receive questions regarding my recommendations. So I decided that every month, or every other month I will be showing you the figurines here, and shortly reviewing them to hopefully help you decide which figurines are worth investing in. Because if you know me, you know that I always make the most of everything I own.

Before I begin, I want to mention that these figurines are not biodegradable, so I chose to buy them second hand. Probably over 95% of pieces in my son's collection have been owned by somebody else before. And  I am sure that my son will pass them onto somebody else one day. 

Please bear in mind that some of these figurines are pretty small (the AAA's hen for example) and therefore are not suitable for babies/ young toddlers. 

If you are looking for some ideas on how to use these figurines to educate your kids, please check out these two activity guides: part I is here, and part II here 😊

Some of the figurines you will see here today are marked as dupes of brand figurines. I bought them in a bundle, second-hand, and upon doing research I realised that they were dupes. Nonetheless, I will always recommend getting an original piece to respect people that dedicated their precious time to create something special. 

OK, enough rambling. Here are the figurines: 

AAA Peacock
I found this figurine in a car boot sale last year. It's large and beautifully crafted. Despite its size, it is quite light. The feathers are made of a softer, slightly bendable PVC, and thanks to that they are safer for the children. The intricate carving of the tail provides a fantastic sensory experience for a child. I like the way the peacock is painted, although the colours of it are not as bright. 

Ostrich by AAA, and emu by K&M
This is yet another large figurine by AAA. I like its shape a lot. The head, neck and wings are softer and slightly bendable. The neck of the ostrich could have been painted in a more realistic colour and the painting in general could have been a little bit more detailed, but this is probably a very old figurine. I know that it originally came in a set with 2 more figurines: a chick and a hatchling, and I hope to find the hatchling soon. I believe that it would a wonderful addition to Kian's collection.

Emu by K&M and ostrich by AAA
This is a small figurine, especially if compared to the AAA's ostrich. I like its shape, especially that it is pretty detailed for its size. Probably the only con of it is that the head could have been shaped and painted a bit more precisely. But it is teeny tiny, so I know that it would be almost impossible. All in all, this is a great little figurine. 

AAA Goose and Goslings, AAA Hen and Chicks, AAA Rooster and chick, AAA duck and ducklings
This goose figurine is very cute. It is pretty detailed for its size. It's great for small world play, and decorating purposes.

Blue Footed Booby dupe of Safari Ltd. figurine
BLUE FOOTED BOOBY (no name, but it is most likely a dupe of Safari Ltd figurine)
This figurine is generally very nice. I like its sculpting, and the painting is not bad at all. However, the design of it is slightly off. You can make the booby stand on his feet, or he falls on its beak. The only way to make it stand is by leaning it back on its tail. And it can be quite frustrating for the child. From what I have seen, the original figurine is correctly balanced. 

Puffin by Schleich
PUFFIN Schleich
This figurine is small and light. It is very realistic, although I wish that the painting of the bottom part of the wings was more detailed. But in general, this is a great figurine

Dupe of a Stork by Schleich
STORK (no name, but this is probably a dupe of Schleich)
This is a beautifully sculpted and painted figurine. It's very detailed. The top part of it is much heavier than the bottom, but because it is cleverly and correctly balanced, it doesn't fall over. 

Peregrine Falcon by Schleich (2011)
This is a lovely figurine, and generally I love how it is sculpted and painted. I think, though, that peregrine falcons are darker than this model. But all in all, this a beautiful bird to have in one's collection.

A dupe of the Great Grey Owl figurine by Bullyland
GREAT GREY OWL (no name, but it is a dupe of a model by Bullyland)
This model is stunning. I love its shape and detailed sculpting. It is beautifully painted (except for the eyes). I wish I could find the original one somewhere. 

Emperor Penguin Chick by AAA
I found this figurine in a charity shop, and I bought it thinking that this was the adult emperor penguin. However, after doing some research online, I realised that this is meant to be a chick and that it originally came in a set with an adult. Emperor chicks look completely different, so I don't know why this one is painted the way it is. We look at it as if it was an adult :) 

Rooster and chick by AAA
I love the intricate sculpting of this rooster. It's very impressive, especially since this figurine is small. It's a lovely addition to the collection. 

Eagle figurine by Nayab, Eagle by Schleich and Eagle chicks (dupe of Schleich)
EAGLE (probably Nayab)
This massive eagle was the first figurine in Kian's collection. I am not sure where it is from, but after doing some research, I think it is from Nayab. This eagle can be also hung up as a decoration because it has two tiny holes in the wings. It is made of a rubbery, bendy material, and it makes sounds when you press his body. It's beautifully made. Kian has played with it almost every single day in the past 3 years.

Eagle by Schleich (2010)
EAGLE Schleich
This is a much smaller eagle than the Nayab one, but it's just as beautiful. I love the details of it, especially on the wings, and the light coat of gold paint that makes this figurine very special. If you have this figurine, you probably realised that the beak was originally a bit different. Ours arrived broken, so Kian's dad re-shaped it. 

Kingfisher by Papo
This gorgeous kingfisher is the newest addition to Kian's collection. Kingfisher is my and Kian's favourite bird, and we had the pleasure of observing it at a lake in Poland, back in 2019. I love everything about this little figurine by Papo. It's just perfect. 

Snowy Owl (dupe of Schleich)
SNOWY OWL (no name, but it is a dupe of a figurine by Schleich)
This is a lovely, very realistic figurine. It is permanently attached to a branch. It stands nicely, and it doesn't fall over. 

AAA Duck and duckling, and AAA Rooser with chick, AAA Hen and Chicks, AAA Goose and Goslings
This is a very cute figurine, perfect for a child that loves farm animals. It is pretty well detailed for such a small model. 

Eagle Chicks in a nest (dupe of Schleich)
EAGLE CHICKS (no name, but this is definitely a dupe of a figurine by Schleich)
This figurine is cute and very detailed. The nest and the chicks look realistic. A lovely piece. 

Emperor Penguin (no name)
I have no idea where this penguin figurine comes from, but it's pretty realistic and detailed. There is a hole running through it, from the top of the penguins head, so I guess it was a part of some decoration piece. 

Budgerigar Parakeet by Schleich (Budgie)
BUDGERIGAR (Parakeet) Schleich
This cute budgie has been retired for a while now- it came out in 2002. This figurine is just perfect, it is beautfully sculpted and painted. The paint rubbs off a little bit, which is sadly a common problem with Schleich figurines (the new models are even worse), but other than that, if you find it somewhere, buy it. It is worth it, especially if your child loves birds.

SSS Kiwi Bird figurine 
This kiwi figurine is absolutely divine. The bird looks like it is about to peck something off the ground. It's pretty heavy and solid for its size. I love both the sculpting and the painting of this figurine. 

Hen with chicks (AAA) 
This figurine is one of the smallest ones we have. Despite its size, it is beautifully sculptured. It's covered with good quality paint, that doesn't rub off. The colours here are simple, there is no shading on the feathers. Hen's eyes could use some more definition, but all in all, this is a very good quality figurine. 

Keel-billed toucan figurine (no name)
This beautiful figurine is an almost identical copy of Belize's national bird- the magnificent keel-billed toucan. It's nicely made, the paint doesn't rub off, which is just wonderful. The bird can not stand on its own, so you need to attach it to something if you want to display it. 
Sadly, I can not find any information on what brand made it. 

That's all for today. Next month I will be reviewing my son's dinosaur figurines, so please check back if you are interested. Thank you for your time. Stay safe!

Gosia x

Montessori Practical Life Skills: Kitchen Gadgets. Best cooking untensils for kids.

Hi, thanks for stopping by! Today I will show you kitchen gadgets my son has, and shortly review them, to help you decide what to buy, and what to skip.

But before I begin, I just wanted to let you know that every Saturday I post practical life-related content on my InstaStories. If you missed any of the episodes, you can find them in the highlights on my profile. Also, please remember that a cooking child requires supervision 😊

Cutting is one of the cooking skills that many kids want to master because it seems so grown up. I introduced Kian to cutting when he was probably 1,5 years old. At first, he was using a round butter knife and cutting only bananas. Once he has mastered that, he started cutting boiled veggies, like potatoes, carrots, beets etc. When he was older and had a more firm grip, I gave him a slightly sharper dinner knife, and he started cutting fruit and veggies that are a little trickier to cut. Then I bought him this set of plastic knives for children, and it is good, but I think that this wasn't a necessary purchase. He would be ok using just the dinner knife. However, these knives are ok. They are pretty easy to work with, and easy to clean. But again, not that necessary to have. 

Veggie peeler (Kuhn Rikon):
This veggie peeler is great because it's light, small and sharp. I have waited for Kian to turn 4 to introduce him to peeling, and it's going great. So this is a very helpful kitchen gadget.

Apple divider (Wilko):
This is a gadget that I thought we would use a lot, but we actually hardly ever use it. First of all, because Kian eats apples without cutting them, and second of all because this model is not very practical for kids (they would need much bigger handles). And also, apples, especially organic apples, are not that easy to cut using the divider. 

Egg Slicer (Ikea):
This is just a slicer we have had at home for many years. It is great for slicing eggs, obviously, but we use it for slicing strawberries, kiwi and cooked beets. It is a helpful gadget to have, because even a toddler can prepare a snack for themselves using it. 

Potato/ Veggie masher (NUK):
This veggie masher came in a set with a bowl, and my partner bought it when Kian was weaning. We hardly used it back then, but now Kian uses it to mash avocadoes, chickpeas, bananas and potatoes. It's very helpful.

Rolling pin (Wilko):
I bought this small wooden rolling pin in Wilko. We actually have two of them, one for clay and playdough, and one that Kian uses in the kitchen. 

This rolling pin is quite light, and it works well. It is a helpful gadget, and I would definitely recommend it.

That's all I have prepared for you today, I hope you found it helpful. Thank you for your time! Stay safe.

Gosia x


Montessori Practical Life: snack and self-care stations in a small space and on a budget. What are practical life skills?

Hi! I am a firm believer that the more independent, the happier and more confident the child is. If you're looking for advice on how to start implementing practical life skills into your child's life, and how to create a self-care and snack stations in a small living space (and on a budget!), I've got you. If you need a weekly dose of ideas for practical life skills activities, please check out my Instagram account

What are practical life skills and why they are crucial for the child's development?

Practical life skills include everything that a person needs to master in order to become independent and live in a society. Obviously, that all depends on the person's age and abilities. 
Independence boosts confidence like nothing else in this world. 
Teaching kids some practical life skills take a lot of patience and persistence. And do you know what do they learn besides cleaning, cooking and doing laundry? Patience and persistence. The core of success. 

Kitchen drawer instead of a snack station

When Kian was a baby, I had all of his cups and plates in a cabinet high up. But when it was a time for him to gain independence in a snacking department, I decided to swap whatever I had in one of my drawers (tea towels and kitchen cleaning clothes) with his stuff. So the tea towels now live in a cabinet, and Kian can easily access his belongings without having to ask an adult to help him. 

Inside his drawer, there are some cups, his plate and a bowl, metal straws, his cutlery, as well as kids-friendly kitchen knives and his bottle for when we go out. 

I always leave a clean kitchen cloth for him as well, so he can deal with any spills independently. 

He drinks only water, so when he is thirsty he grabs one of his cups and then pours some water from the water dispenser that we keep at all times on our table. 

He has a foldable step-stool that he uses to get fresh fruit from the fridge. Our fridge is pretty small and light, so it is easy for him to open and close its door. We often make ice lollies at home so he can get them directly from the freezer. Obviously, it is important to ensure that the freezer drawers are not damaged nor over-filled with food. This way, instead of having to build or buy a pretty chunky snack station, I found some easy ways to incorporate Kian's kitchen tools and tableware into existing furniture. And because the water dispenser is always on our table, we are well hydrated. 

If your child normally eats some snacks in wrappers, you could leave them in their drawer as well. Some parents prep snack caddies for their kids, so anytime their child wants something to eat, they take it from that caddy. 

I created an alternative to a Montessori self-care station by incorporating it into existing bathroom furniture.

Self-care station

I love the self-care stations that parents make for their kids, and if only I had somewhere to fit one, I would definitely build it for Kian.

My tiny bathroom, however, came with no storage at all. Luckily last year I found a narrow but capacious cabinet that I can fit all of our products and backups into. I still wanted Kian to have some sort of care of self station, that's why I created it on one of the shelves.

This basket used to store Kian's nappies and hairbrush when he was tiny, and because it is in a perfect condition and fits on the shelf, I now use it to store his hair accessories, a washbag, his sunscreen and his hair brushes (for those who don't know, my son has a very beautiful, long hair). On the side, there is his toothbrush and toothpaste, and a small mirror. He can now easily reach the sink, but before he used to use his step-stool (the same one he uses in the kitchen). His towel hangs on the radiator just next to the shelving unit, so everything is easily accessible for him. 

That is all that I have for you today, but check my InstaStories on Saturdays for weekly practical life activities for kids. If you missed any of the episodes, you can find them in the
'Practical Life' highlight on my profile.  Thank you for your time! 
Gosia x

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