Every year at Christmas, I think my kids have all the toys known to man. Then I visit Mastermind Toys and realize there is TONS OF COOL NEW STUFF. Here are my top picks for Christmas 2014!
1) Texture Painting Set
My kids have had these brushes for three years, and they are still intact, despite being chewed, tossed, and crushed by babies and toddlers. The kids love using the different brushes to create new shapes and textures in their paintings. These are great for kids of nearly any age!
2) Table Top Puppet Theatre
I've always wanted a puppet theatre for the kids, but I'm not prepared to commit to a giant one. This table-top theatre is the perfect alternative. I'm going to get my kids to make their own puppets. Bonus: I will get to sit on the couch while the children entertain me! Yay, rest!
3) Hape All Season Doll House
You can't put away large-scale toys like doll houses, so it's important that they are not ugly. This wooden doll house is so pretty, I don't mind having it out all the time (yep, I bought this). My kids (a boy and a girl) both LOVE playing with it. The roof panels come off - you can flip them over to change the seasons! One side has some green foliage on it, and the other side has snow. My kids will sit for ages and re-arrange the furniture. Which means I get to sit on the couch. Win.
4) Decorate Your Own Cardboard House
I love these cardboard things so much. My kids have coloured a rocket and a castle, and I'm totally going to buy them this. It encourages creativity both in decorating the house AND in imaginary play with the house when it's finished. These things hold up surprisingly well - our rocket is finally biting the dust after a full year of play.
5) Primary Science Set
I actually bought this science kit for my daughter last Christmas (I shop here a lot). It's still one of her favourite toys. It comes with all the science gear you need, sized just right for little hands. It also has nice big cards that explain basic scientific concepts with easy experiments. Our favourite is the erupting volcano in a beaker.
6) Indoor Tightrope Set
This slackline tightrope is for kids age three and up, but anyone under 125 pounds can use it. The blocks that hold it in place are non-slip. You should only buy this if you have space for a "Parent of the Year" trophy on your mantle.
7) Klutz Activity Books
There's a reason why Klutz books have been around forever - they are awesome. They're easy enough that kids can do the activities alone, but interesting enough to hold their attention. New this year: String Art, Loop Loom Bracelets, Mini Pom-Pom Pets, and Tissue Paper Crafts.
8) Tegu Magnetic Wooden Building Blocks
When I saw these blocks in the store, I thought the magnets would make them too easy for my daughter. I was so wrong. She started playing with an open set, and the magnets in these smooth wooden blocks allowed her to create structures that wouldn't be feasible with regular blocks. She made a cool tower, a sandwich, and a bike with a stand. She was so excited, she ran over and showed the bike to the Mastermind Toys cashier. Needless to say, she is getting these for Christmas.
9) Early Melodies Pound and Tap Bench
The quality of Hape toys is unbeatable. They are gorgeous, and they last forever. This bench combined the fun of hammering with the music of a xylophone. I'm totally buying this - I can tell my two-year-old will be fascinated by it.
10) B. Symphony in B
My daughter found this awesome toy, too. It's SO COOL. Each of the little rubber pieces is a different musical instrument. When you place one on the steps in the centre, that instrument begins playing a song. When you add another piece, the new instrument joins the music. If you take the pieces away, their music disappears as well.
My daughter played with this for 20 minutes straight in the store, and she only stopped because I made her give her brother a turn. My two-year-old loved trying to fit the instruments into their homes - you can match them based on colour, or based on the shape of the base. Both of the kids loved experimenting with changing the music. I loved that one toy teaches them about music, shapes, and colours, AND that both of my kids can play with it in completely different ways. On top of all this, the orchestral music is actually really nice to listen to, unlike many toys that play songs. My kids are DEFINITELY getting this for Christmas, and it's on sale right now if you want it too!
It's a good thing my kids can't read, because I am buying them basically all the things on this list. It's no secret that I love Mastermind Toys. I discovered their website a couple of years ago, and bought nearly all of my kids' Christmas presents there. I love that they are a Canadian company, and their customer service is awesome. On top of all this, the stores offer free gift-wrapping. I HATE wrapping presents, so this is a very big deal for me.
Mastermind has had stores in the Toronto area for over 30 years, but they've started expanding across Canada. This week, they are opening their third Calgary location in Country Hills! Go visit them from November 13 - 16 for free loot bags, cookies, giveaways, and a special in-store offer (THIS MIGHT BE A COUPON).
To help celebrate the opening of the Country Hills store, I have a $100 Mastermind Toys gift card to give away!! This would make a BIG dent in your Christmas shopping, so enter below!
Mastermind Toys $100 Gift Card
Disclaimer: Canadian entries only, 18 and older. Step away from the computer, 4-year-olds! Go get mommy or daddy! I was provided a toy for review by Mastermind Toys, but I loved them even before I had a blog.