It’s that time of year again, when I get the real pleasure of searching for the best toys in the UK that would make fantastic Christmas presents for primary aged children. This year, I’ve split my gift guide into 5 main sections and I hope there’s plenty of inspiration to help you with your Christmas shopping. *
Feel free to look back at previous year’s gift guides too for inspiration here
Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM)
Perhaps it is having been a science teacher, but I always think STEM toys are the best! STEM are the toys that incorporate some science, technology, engineering or maths into them. I’ve a whole collection of recommended STEM toys and books for young kids, but here are some of my favourites for Christmas 2022:
- Wonders of Space Sensory Activity Set – I love this gorgeous little activity set. Not only because its packed full of lovely resources that children can use to create space pictures (including play dough, pom poms, sequins, cutters etc.) but it all packs away in a nice neat, mess free box! Win Win! Great for fine motor skills, sensory play and learning about space! It’s also really novel, I can almost guarantee your kids haven’t already got something like this.
- Numberblocks One & Two Playful Pals, Plush Toys – I wrote a while back about how fantastic I think Numberblocks (the TV programme) is for children’s maths development in my post about Recommended Maths Resources for Primary School Children here and therefore I was delighted to discover that you can now buy plush toy versions of Numberblocks One and Two! And how cute are they?! A lovely gift for children who are enjoying developing their maths skills.
- K’NEX Imagine Creation Zone 50 Model Building Set – This is a brilliant engineering style gift for kids and a real classic toy that’s stood the test of time. What I particularly like about this set is that it includes instructions for no less than FIFTY different models that you can make from the 417 pieces! Literally hours and hours of creative STEM fun!
- RAAR! Dinosaurs Portable Educational Poster Board – One area of science that many children are fascinated by is Dinosaurs and I adore this Portable Dinosaur Educational Poster Board by Needi. It’s high quality, covered in really realistic dinosaur pictures and has a little stand too – so children can pop it on their chest of drawers, or toy box and display their favourite dinosaurs. I also think it’s great that its portable, so your dinosaur-loving child can take it with them to show off their dinosaur facts to Grandma and Granddad, or whoever else they are keen to impress!
- Dinosaur Collection Plus Playmat – Staying on the dinosaur theme, I’d really recommend this collection of dinosaur toys. The 11 figures come complete with a lovely play mat and a handy box to keep it all tidy! It’s also really great value.
Imaginative play is a fantastic and enjoyable way for children to play. And whilst in most instances you need little more than a cardboard box to play pretend, there are some really lovely toys out there to enrich this type of play. Here are some of my favourites this year:
- Learning Resources’ Pretend and Play Doctors Kit – This has to be the best pretend play doctors kit out there. It’s absolutely brilliant. And most importantly, kids love it. It has everything they need to dress up and pretend to be a doctor, including a pretend stethoscope, syringe, dental mirror, scalpel and much more. And did I mention the stethoscope is battery powered so little ones can hear sound effects of a beating heart when they listen using it?
- Pokèmon Clip and Go Belt Set Charmander Glumanda & Pokemon Balls – For older children who enjoy imaginative play, this Pokémon resource is wonderful! And a great way to get them off the screens whilst still playing something they are interested in. They can pop on the wearable Belt and pretend to be a Pokémon Trainer! It includes a Poké Ball and Lucy Ball (both attach to the belt) and inside the Poké Ball they can put their Charmander Battle Figure that is included!
- Robo Alive King Cobra Snake – This toy is a real favourite with kids this year and it’s not surprising why! This realistic (ish) looking King Cobra snake can move across the floor like a real snake! Great for pretending to have a pet snake but also for playing cheeky tricks on siblings and grown ups!
- Melissa and Doug Pretend Play Pizza Set – This lovely wooden pretend pizza set is fantastic and a lovely unique gift. It includes six pizza slices that kids can pretend to cut and more that 50 toppings that they can pretend to add. What a great way to learn about making pizza’s and play pretend.
Building and creating things is wonderful for so many skills, in particular fine motor skills (find out about fine motor skills here). And construction toys can make lovely relaxing gifts for children, giving them opportunities for quiet play where they can have the time and space to enjoy building something they love. These are my current favourite construction toys:
- Lego Minecraft The Fox Lodge – Minecraft is huge right now and this lovely LEGO set is another great way of encouraging screen-free play whilst still focussing on their interests. This set has lots of lovely details and includes a zombie, fox, baby fox, Arctic fox and a hero figure in a fox ‘skin’.
- John Deere Build a Johnny Tractor – For younger children, I love this build a tractor set by John Deere. What’s great about it is there’s two ways to play with it. Kids can play with it just like a chunky tractor toy, pushing it around or playing pretend farms. Or they can have fun taking it apart and building it back together again with the pretend motorised drill (which is great for fine motor skills).
- Lego Friends Animal Adoption Cafe – Possibly the cutest LEGO Friends set out there at the moment, this Animal Adoption Cafe is just so cute! The purrfect (sorry!) gift for children who love animals and LEGO! It’s also brilliant again for fine motor skills and imaginative play.
- Lego Amazing Vehicles – These LEGO books that include mini models to build make brilliant gifts. There’s lots to choose from, this ‘Amazing Vehicles’ one is particularly good. I love the idea of children learning about vehicles and then being inspired to build their own.
If you’re looking for a couple of things to go alongside a satsuma and a chocolate bar for a child’s Christmas Stocking, here are some lovely small gifts that might just be perfect:
- Mash’ems – These make fab stocking fillers and there’s lots of different types to fit with your child’s interests including Jurassic World , Paw Patrol, Spiderman, Marvel and Minions. They are just the right size to pop in a Christmas stocking and children can enjoy collecting them.
- Hallmark ‘Batman Itty Bitty’ Soft Toy These super hero soft toys are adorable and also fit really well into a Christmas Stocking. I chose the Batman one to show on here, but there’s a whole range of super hero plush toys available here
- Animal Torch Projector – These torches are genius! And are really great value. Children swizzle the disc in the torch round to project lots of different pictures of animals on their wall/ceiling. I was genuinely, very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the picture they project – it’s very clear. And I love that they have so many different projector torches available, the Dinosaur version for example, is particularly terrifying!
- BrainBolt Brain Teaser – Choosing a stocking filler for children over 7 can be a little tricky, but this BrainBolt Brain Teaser solves that problem. It’s fantastic. You can play it by yourself or against someone else. Simply put, the aim of this game is to try and remember the light sequence. It’s great quality, screen-free and fantastic for developing memory skills, coordination and motor skills. A must buy for older children this year.
- Snowman Snap – On the other end of the age scale, this is the perfect stocking filler for younger children. A lovely, chunky and Christmas themed version of snap that young children will adore. The snowman characters on the cards are particularly funny too!
Encouraging Reading and a Love of Stories
- Bring a Book to Life – I cannot recommend these boxes enough! If you’re looking for a lovely gift that also helps to develop a love of reading… then have a look at the Bring a Book to Life’s website here. Each box contains a book and a collection of resources/toys that relate to the story.. and quite simply, as the name suggests, they help bring a book to life. I absolutely adore the multi-sensory approach of these boxes and can imagine children’s faces lighting up on Christmas Day opening one of these. For obvious reasons, I’m sharing a photo of one of their Christmas themed boxes (specifically their dyslexia friendly, reluctant reader Christmas set), but there’s so many boxes to choose from for all ages, interests and abilities – from ‘Little Readers’ all the way to ‘Confident Readers’.
- VoxBlock – Wow! These are incredible, and I’m annoyed with myself that I hadn’t heard about them sooner! They are a very unique, very cool audio-book device for pre-school and primary aged children that’s completely screen free. The little book-like ‘blocks’ can be placed on a bookshelf, like regular books, for kids to choose and then pop into the Voxblock player to listen to. I love how accessible this is, that there’s no screen’s involved and the wide selection of stories for children to choose from to suit a large range of ages, abilities and interests. A wonderful Christmas present to help encourage a love of stories.
- How to Boost Reading and Writing Through Play – Sorry, I couldn’t resist! Please accept my shameless plug for my own book ‘How to Boost Reading and Writing Through Play’! My latest book, published last week is packed full of play based activities you can do with your children to help develop their literacy skills through play. The foreword was written by Theo Paphitis (from dragon’s den!) and it’s had some lovely reviews already, including one from Michael Rosen! Buy it here. And don’t forget my first book 100 Ways Your Child Can Learn Through Play .
*Full disclaimer, I was sent some samples for the purpose of review – but all opinions are my own.