Atlas turned two a couple of weeks ago, and per usual, most of the gifts were educational items. I would estimate that 80% of the toys and activities that Atlas has are educational, and I can usually find a way to fit a little learning in with the other 20% too.
On some of these items, you will see a suggested age range on the front of the box. Many times, items that I buy for Atlas are suggested for older children. We typically use his toys not only for playtime, but for structured learning activities as well. I like to buy items above his age range so that he can grow into them and so he’s always learning new skills. I modify as needed to fit his specific needs. For example, with the 12 and 24 piece puzzles I put the puzzle together myself and remove 6-10 pieces for him to put back. As he continues to work with the puzzles, I will remove more pieces until eventually, he is able to complete it on his own.
Without further ado, here are the gifts that Atlas got for his second birthday. He got a little of everything. From educational, to practical, and even a car!
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Atlas and I have used these to start working on practicing with memory. It comes with 26 pairs, but we only use 3 pairs at a time right now. The cards are made of thick, durable cardboard. Animal recognition with cute baby animals is a plus!
We use these for memory games as well. For independent play, I set out up to 10 pairs (face up) for him to match. I love the diversity in the faces on these cards, there are children of all races, with and without glasses, braces, wheelchairs, and more!
Now that Atlas can identify numbers and count to 30, we are practicing counting with one-to-one correspondence. These puzzles are perfect and I love that they are self-correcting, so there’s only one right way to put them together.
We recently finished learning lowercase letters and are continuing to work on sounds. Right now, Atlas is working on these puzzles by putting them together and naming the letters. As he continues to learn more sounds, we will sound out the words. These are self-correcting too!
Nope, that’s not a typo. $6 for four puzzles! This was such a good deal, I couldn’t pass it up. And Atlas LOVES puzzles, so I had to get them. Two of these have 12 pieces and the other two have 24 pieces. I use the modification described in my intro above.
This is a fun hot potato that plays music. You never know when the music is going to stop! I wanted this to work on turn taking and teaching Atlas to follow directions for games. This is a simple one, just pass back and forth until someone is “out”. (We don’t really do the “out” part, since there’s only three of us at most)
These are perfect for where Atlas is right now with lowercase letters. He loves this set! He is able to use them for independent learning and practice. When he starts to learn to read, I love that he can continue to match the words to the pictures on the back of the puzzle pieces.
This one was mostly a gift for me because I don’t usually let Atlas have these letters without me nearby. I use them for our letter and sound lessons right now. We each hold a letter and sing about the sound. Atlas also likes to match these letters to the letters on his mat. As he continues to learn, we will use them for word building.
We have hardwood floors and live in an apartment, so I’m sure the downstairs neighbors are even happier than we are about this one. But all jokes aside, it really dampens the noise, defines Atlas’ play area, and sped up his lowercase letter recognition tremendously! Being able to see the letters all of the time was so helpful for him.
Since we got the mat, I figured stomping on a giant piano was now in play. Atlas has so much fun playing this piano by running and jumping all over it. He gets to be active while discovering different instrument sounds. You’ll be happy to know that the volume is fully adjustable, so you can make it as quiet as you would like.
This is one of my favorites that we got for his birthday! The little frogs and the numbers are weighted, so you can actually balance the scale by using the correct digit and number of frogs! This is such a fun way to practice one-to-one correspondence. It even comes with flashcards for addition and subtraction practice. There are so many ways to play, and we will definitely be using it for a long time!
Soggy Doggy is a fun board game, and I can easily simplify the rules for Atlas. I’ll write a separate post on that instead of trying to explain it here. I love that the water and shaking dog keep his interest, and that we get to practice counting and turn taking in a new and exciting way. Side note: Yes, the game does use real water. It’s just enough to be fun, but not enough to really make a mess or get too wet.
I always want to make sure that Atlas gets lots of opportunities for imaginative play, so this pet vet kit was perfect. It comes with all of the medical instruments, medicines, and creams (empty bottles) that you see here. It also comes with the two stuffed animals! Atlas and I have enjoyed playing together and he loves independent play with this kit as well. Bonus: He gets to practice his fine motor skills while using the tools and opening the little jars.
At first glace, this may look like “just fun”, but there are plenty of ways to fit in some learning. There’s color and number recognition, plus addition if you’re teaching older kids how to keep score. Of course, gross motor and hand-eye coordination are the biggest skills being built here. Bonus: The pop-up bean bag toss game easily folds up into a small bag that can also hold the beanbags!
Mess free fun is always a yes in my book. I don’t mind messes, but ain’t nobody got time for that all the time. This is perfect for independent play while I’m making dinner or even in the car. The board plays music as you draw on it, so it’s a multi-sensory experience!
Now that Atlas is older and doesn’t need as much when we go out, we’ve transitioned from the diaper backpack that we used to use. This little backpack is the perfect size for him to carry on his own. It fits a few diapers and wipes, some snack, and a water bottle on the side. It’s also insulated and can be used as a lunchbox. Bonus: It comes with a strap (aka leash) that allows your toddler to walk independently while learning to stay close by.
One of Atlas’ friends had a bubble mower like this and as soon as I saw it, I knew that he had to have one too. Atlas loves bubbles. His first birthday party was bubble themed, so you already know, we don’t play about bubbles. Well, we do play with bubbles. Eh…you know what I mean. Anyway, this thing makes sooo many bubbles. It’s really fun!
This shirt was perfect for Atlas to wear to his party and also for his birthday pictures. As soon as you see it, you know exactly what’s going on. I love the simplicity. He looked so cute and was comfortable throughout the entire day.
And last, but not least…his own little car!
This little Lamborghini was too cute to pass up! We love that it comes with a remote control, so even though Atlas doesn’t know how to drive it yet, he can still enjoy riding as we control the speed and steering. Of course, he will be able to control it on his own once he learns how. We did a lot of research, and this particular model had the most interior space, so he should be able to fit inside of it for a few years. The doors are functional, with opening and locking capabilities. It even has working lights in the front and back, and a bluetooth radio! Literally everyone comments on it whenever we take him outside in it. I’m not joking. We have to mentally prepare ourselves to talk to everyone we pass because they absolutely do it every time and it’s kind of a lot.
What was your favorite item on this list? I hope the little in your life enjoys these toys as much as we do!