'He's playing, but is he learning? These kids' items are on my 2019 wish list.'

Thanks to our brand partner, Officeworks

Who knew an almost three-year-old could create so much mess? Not pre-child me!

But what I also didn’t realise was, the mess can be a sign of essential child development. From sorting skills to colour and shape recognition and the alphabet, little people are little learning sponges. And yes, in that process, they absolutely take over your home and turn it upside down. You can only hope they’re learning something while rearranging your place, right?

If you’re one of the 90 percent of parents who say they don’t have enough time to dedicate to their child’s development, I hear you loud and clear. That’s me to a tee. But we only have the hours we have, so the trick isn’t time, but having the right materials around you.

We have fun, but is he learning too? Image: Supplied

My go-to is Officeworks' Learn & Grow range. With more than 4000 high-quality educational tools in their range, they've got all bases covered for kids from birth to 12. I’ve made my wish list, but you might have a completely different one depending on your child's personality and their stage. Let's get inspired:

For the teeny sculptor

So, my toddler has been known to redecorate the kitchen sometimes...with food. I'd rather him channel his skills in home decoration into something productive, like Kadink's range of paint and dough. I remember playing with dough as a kid - it's one of those things that never goes out of fashion. I can already see us rolling out dough snakes, squeezing dough spaghetti and building rocket ships. Hmmm, who's having more fun here?

Exclusive to Officeworks, this Australian-made range is non-toxic, and the dough is washable, too. It's creative, and the dough comes in seriously cool colours like fluoro yellow and orange. Much prettier than mashed potato wallpaper, I might say.

For the puzzle obsessive

Current toddler obsessions are construction sites, zoos and airports. Ravensburger has puzzles to suit all these interests, but I know my little one will love the Busy Airport Puzzle... which looks like a whole lot more fun that traipsing a real airport with a small child!


The pieces are nice and big, making them easy for small hands to grasp and place. I really enjoy watching my son in "puzzle" mode - that look of concentration as he tries to work it out. If I’m lucky, it may even take long enough for me to enjoy a hot cuppa. Once he’s big enough, my sights are set on the 3D puzzle range, which includes the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben and Empire State Building.

For the junior forecaster

“Are we seeing Grandma and Grandpa tomorrow mummy, or is it music class?” Let’s just say we’ve reached the stage where routine and planning are essential parts of the week. And with every question, comes another why...

Melissa & Doug’s My Daily Calendar can answer those questions quick and fast. It's the perfect activity to do together in the morning or even the night before. We could even build it into our night time ritual, after a bath and before bedtime stories. My little one will love moving the pre-printed magnets into the correct spots, and there’s space to note the weather, any special events and mood (very, very sleepy - we can only hope!).

For the lead singer

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, N-N-N-N, P. Ah, the alphabet. On repeat and at full volume! Bless their early, wildly inaccurate (but ridiculously cute) renditions of the classics, as young children develop and master the skills of language. It’s a learning explosion, and each day is full of new connections. It makes me so proud as a parent to watch such important milestones unfold. Anything that helps this developmental progress gets a big yes from me, including the Gillian Miles brightly laminated wall charts, which help develop word, shape, colour and number skills and also look pretty darn fabulous.

wall charts
Gillian Miles wall charts: I love this alphabet one, and the birthday chart is super helpful. Image: Officeworks

For the pint-sized artiste

“Mummy, I want to paint!” says my toddler each morning at 8am. And, let’s face it, when you have a little artist in the making, but that artist is prone to putting paint-covered hands absolutely everywhere, it’s tempting to put art in the ‘too-hard’ basket. But it might be time to embrace the chaotic creativity and worry less about the mess. (You can check back in with me later!) After all, Crayola non-toxic Washable Paints are water-based and completely safe. The washable formula can be removed easily with warm water and a sponge. Too easy. Come on Picasso, to the playroom with you.

For the intrepid traveller

The wheels on the bus go round and round and round...and round. On a long car trip to see his nana, it’s so hard to know what to pack for entertainment that won’t just be thrown on the floor of the car or tipped over. Sultanas tucked down seat crevices anyone? Anyone? And, there’s only so many rounds of I Spy you can play. Everyone needs a little bit of quiet time - and if you can throw in incidental learning while they're at it, it's a double win.

So for our next trip, I’m going to give the Crayola Dry Erase Travel Pack a go. Its two reusable drawing surfaces encourage creativity while travelling. And because it easily folds away, it won’t take up much room, which is just as well...because packing to go away for a weekend with a toddler? That’s luggage with a capital L.

I think the Christmas wish list is now complete, full of ways to while away those long summer afternoons, playing and learning together. For more about Officeworks' Learn and Grow range, which also includes much-loved brands Oxford University Press, Plasticine, and Play-Doh, visit their website.

What's the best educational toy your child loves? Tell us below.

This content was brought to you with thanks by our brand partner, Officeworks.


At Officeworks, we know most parents want to dedicate more time to their child’s development. That’s why we’ve introduced a Learn & Grow range to help you combine your kids’ playtime, with exciting new ways to learn and grow. And with thousands of quality educational tools at low prices, Officeworks has everything you need to make at-home learning easy and fun.
Shop our full Learn & Grow range online at