My ULTIMATE Gender Neutral Gift Guide for 1 - 5 Year Olds!

Friends in my online mothers group are always asking for gift ideas for their little ones, so I thought I'd put together a collection of gift ideas for one to five years olds - suitable for both boys and girls. I'm a firm believer that boys can play with dolls and girls can play with train sets... The days of 'toys for girls' and 'toys for boys' should be behind us as we encourage our little ones to just enjoy their PLAY! So I've kept that in mind with my recommendations in this post. {not sponsored}

Keep scrolling to the end for some gift ideas suitable for almost ANY age.

One Year Olds

  • Musical Instruments e.g. bells and rattles that can be shaken. Xylophones are great for this age too {pictured above is the Melody Mix available from Finlee and Me}
  • Dolls/teddies - my little girl still adores special dolls and teddies she was given at this age.
  • Bouncy balls to encourage throwing and catching both indoors and outdoors.

Two Year Olds

  • Toys to encourage imaginative and dramatic play eg, play kitchen + accessories such as wooden food, tea set, etc.
  • Building blocks - so much fun to knock over a tower of blocks when you're two! Invest in a quality wooden set that will last {pictured are Rainbow Blocks from Finlee and Me}
  • "Little People" range from Fisher Price - ideal for two year olds. There's so many in the range to choose from.

Three Year Olds

  • Kinetic Sand - the most magical sensory experience ever! Perfect for three year olds as they play, mould and sculpt.
  • Duplo. In recent months Miss M just got the hang of connecting duplo bricks together, and there are so many in the Duplo range to choose from these days.
  • Play dough will keep most three year olds busy for ages. Grab a couple of tubs with some cookie cutters or a play dough activity set and they'll be sorted.

Four Year Olds

  • Train set - little kiddies have hours of fun with these. Get extra accessories like trees, signs, cars etc to create entire cities!
  • Art supplies / Activity Sticker books - you can always have more of these and they're a great cheap option.
  • Bike! This is actually Miss M's 3rd birthday present, but idea for 4 year olds as well.

Five Year Olds

  • Special stationery (you can't go past Smiggle)
  • Back pack, lunch box, drink bottle for school (now that they're BIG kids!)
  • Find out the latest movie or the child's favourite TV show of the moment - and see if the stores have toys and merchandise. Currently The Good Dinosaur I believe :)

Any Age

  • Clothes (don't forget to consider size and season)
  • Books books and more books! You can never have too many books! Go for board books for under 2s and regular page turners for over 2s. Here are my 10 Favourite Alphabet Books and my 10 Favourite Number Books if you're looking for something educational. 
  • Puzzles - do think about the age of the child and level of difficulty of the puzzle when making your selection.

I hope you found some useful ideas in this list!

Lauren :)

The Moment You Realise You're a Mother of Two

Just over a month ago I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy – what a little champ he is! He has an adoring big sister, a superhero daddy, and we are now a family of four. That makes me a mother of two. It’s taken a while for this new label to sink in. No longer is my daughter the centre of my world or can claim my full attention 100% of the time. No longer can I attend to her every request instantly. There’s another little person now who relies on me for absolutely everything.

These are the moments I’ve experienced, some that broke my heart and some that melted my heart, and some are just moments…

  • The moment when your child walks into the hospital room to meet her baby brother and it feels like she’s grown a whole year over night.
  • That moment when she cries uncontrollably because she wants to stay home with you.
  • That moment when she tells you she misses you when you were in hospital.
  • That moment when you realise you have mastitis on day 5 and feel like you've been hit by a bus.
  • That moment when your husband says he'd like to go for a bike ride and you burst into tears because you realise he's been doing so much to take care of all three of you. 
  • Those moments when both children conspire against you and cry at the same time.
  • That moment when you ask what her favourite activity with her grandparent was and she says "when daddy came home". 
  • That moment when the new baby sleeps peacefully in his big sisters arms.
  • Those moments when she helps and brings things the baby needs for bath or nappy change time.
  • That moment when you see the baby settle in his daddy’s arms.
  • That moment when she sings to him 'twinkle twinkle ' and 'abc' or reads him a book.
  • That moment when you collapse on the couch when both kids are asleep.
  • That moment when you get to leave the house for the first time.
  • Those moments when you’re able to pick up toys off the floor again as opposed to when you were heavily pregnant.
  • The moments when you try your best to keep up with the dishes and washing but it never lasts long.
  • The moment when you just try and make it from one feed to the next, and one day to the next...and you soak up those days before your other half goes back to work.
  • The moment when you learn how to manage the capsule + pram + baby + toddler all by yourself.
  • That moment when you think you’re supermum taking the kids to the park until you get attacked my mozzies and make a mad dash home.
  • Those moments at 5am when you are praying that the baby’s cries don’t wake up the toddler!
  • The moment when she says to the baby “I missed you when you were in mummy’s tummy”.

"It's holding one person's hand, while making room for two others (when we only have two hands); its finding time to be an 'us', and to be a 'mom' and a 'dad' and an individual too." – 
Jennifer S.White - "The hardest part of being a parent" - Huffington Post 

That moment when you realise you can do it.


As featured on My Tiny Wardrobe.

About Being a Goal Rocker

This month I embarked on my first ever online course... Now you may be thinking that I'm crazy because I have a one month old and a toddler, but before you tell my I'm crazy, hear me out :)

The course is called 'Rock Your Goals' and is taught by life coach and writer Sarah Jensen. (You may remember this post when Sarah interviewed me and I shared our pic from the Adelaide Instagrammers meet up? Just to help you put a face to the name). Anyway, Sarah workshops the course in person (wish I had made it to this - if you have the opportunity GO!) as well as online which allowed me to go at my own pace. 2016 is my year to be BRAVE and put more effort and energy into my blog to see where I can take it! In two years I've built a pretty solid foundation and think that I have some great content - but where to next? This is where Rock Your Goals comes in...

Sarah guides her goal rocker tribe step by step through the process of identifying how we want to feel, what makes us feel that way, what our specific goals are and why, as well as some great strategies to achieve those goals - which obviously is what the course aims to do. Sarah's support is ongoing through the wonderful Facebook group and she's really encouraging and inspiring. In each lesson of the course you get a detailed email, audio and a workbook, plus beautiful quotes and social media images to use (I would quite often read the emails early in the morning rocking bubs in one arm with my phone in the other!)

Here are some key things I took away from the course - I feel that writing them here on my blog holds me accountable and hopefully in a years time I can look back and see how far I've come!

  • I was to feel enthusiastic, excited and positive about life. These are words I would have used to describe myself pre-children and I'd really like to get back there. My blog (and my job) helps me do this.
  • My main goal? To make Teacher Types work for me - and start earning a small income back from all the work and effort I put into it. This can happen in a variety of ways, and I've already begun reaching out to brands and seeking more guest posting opportunities.
  • I already have a great foundation, knowledge, something to say, a voice, and great connections established.
  • {Non blog goal} As a family we're also aiming for fun family holidays each year - thinking about the ages of our kids and destinations that would be most appropriate.

Also - I've just discovered podcasts (I think I'm 10 years too late LOL), but you can find Sarah over at iTunes as well chatting with other inspirational and motivated ladies. Here's the link!

Thank you so much Sarah! It's been a pleasure!

Click here to be a goal rocker too! (affiliate link)

Lauren xx

Combining Literacy + Numeracy | 10 Books About Numbers

Something I have always loved in my lessons, is when numerous curriculum areas come together to produce one holistic learning experience. If you are able to integrate more than one area, then you are maximising the students time and opportunities. One particular lesson which comes to mind was when we made symmetrical butterflies. Now this was technically done during an Art lesson, however, our Science theme for the term was 'Living Things', we were studying Eric Carle as an author in English, we were obviously tapping into concepts of symmetry in Maths, and to top it off we sang a Christian song 'If I were a butterfly' to conclude the lesson. That's 5 subjects rolled into one! I believe that it makes the learning so much more meaningful for the students if they can see all of these connections.

Anyway, getting back on track to today's post. I previously shared My 10 Favourite Alphabet Books, so I also wanted to share my 10 favourite number books. But, the beauty here is that we are combining literacy and maths in the one activity or story time session. Children are learning to read as well as count. Something so simple can be so brilliant if you look at it this way!


Ah the genius that is Dr Seuss! What a great one to start off our list. Add some rhyming to your counting and you've got a recipe for fun! Perfect for parents to read to very young children, and explore other early learning concepts - not just numbers.

Eric Carle is my favourite Author of ALL TIME and he has two gorgeous number books for young children. He has two specific number books (number concepts are often explored in various other books e.g. The Very Hungry Caterpillar). The one on the left is really interactive with tabs and flaps, whereas the one on the right is more simple and basic.

The loveable, cheeky and mischievous Hairy Maclary has his own Alphabet book and Number book for little ones. If your child is already familiar with the Hairy Maclary series, they'll see some familiar characters pop up in these fun filled books.

You can't go past Play School for early learning, and this Number book is just beautiful. Perfect for the very young.

Another favourite author of mine is Graeme Base... The Waterhole is a beautifully illustrate story where we countdown from 10 to 1 as the waterhole gets smaller and smaller. Most number books go from 1-10 so it's nice to begin to introduce backwards counting and early subtraction concepts to young children. This one is ideal for 3-5 year olds!

I adore these Alphaprint books. There's something a little bit personal about them, and plus the finger prints are textured so little hands can touch, feel and explore them.

Shop here at Finlee and Me!

Okay okay, this one is on Miss M's 3rd birthday wish list! We have the Alphablock book and would just love to have the matching counting book. Peek through chunky pages are cleverly designed and invite children to make predictions about what's hidden beneath. An extra learning opportunity with this book is that is doesn't just stop at 10 - but it introduces skip counting by 10s all the way to 100!

What a classic nursery rhyme that every child should know. I couldn't find an image of the book that we have, but the little ducks slide along a rod so you can move them as you sing and count. Adding real life objects (such as rubber ducks or finger puppets, even drawings) to this story makes it real for the children, and encourages 1:1 correspondence (this means touching an object as you say the number). Another good one for subtraction!

This is a fun one! "10 fat sausages sizzling in the pan, one went pop and the other went bang!". The tricky part with this story is counting backwards by 2s...great for 5-6 year olds, but younger ones will have fun doing the hand actions for 'pop' and 'bang'!

So there you go - do you have any to add to my list?

Lauren :)

Did you like this post?? Here's another you might find useful to help little people learn about numbers in a hands on way. {Click the image}


What Makes Good Teachers Great? {Guest Post}

I have a special guest blogger today. She is a retired Teacher & Principal with over 40 years experience! I was thrilled with Denyse reached out to me to collaborate I agreed without hesitation, as I knew she'd have a wealth of knowledge to share. Would you believe she blogs every single day!?! This article is such a valuable addition to the Teacher Types blog.

Denyse has compiled a list of 10 things that make 'good' teachers 'GREAT'! And she should know!

Linking up with the awesome Jess for IBOT.

P.S. I've been described as one of those teachers with 'infectious enthusiasm'. If you know me in the real world do you agree? If you don't know me in the real world can you imagine the kind of person I am??


Good teachers are everywhere and, I hope, aspiring to be GREAT teachers.  From my 40+ years of experience as a K-6 Teacher, Deputy Principal and Principal these are some of the qualities of great teachers.

Great teachers are:

1. Those teachers who see each child as an individual with unique needs who has come to school with prior learning from home and the world around.

2. The ones who ensure that the learning program, via the required curriculum, is adaptable enough to help children learn in the style which suits best.

3. People who listen well, observe and make note of learning behaviours which may ascertain if a child needs further assistance in learning.

4. The professionals  who establish learning environments which encourage risk-taking and question-asking, adding possibilities for child-centred research in a safe and flexible setting.

5. Lifelong learners who will belong to professional networks, attend courses and be on the lookout for ways in which to improve their knowledge and skills.

6. Those people with infectious enthusiasm and passion for their profession who will informally mentor and encourage others.

7. Self-managing and monitoring of their health and will admit the need to take some rest time, family time and to care for themselves well so they will  bounce back with enthusiasm and energy.

8. Flexible and adaptable whilst ensuring that school and life rules are followed, there is flexibility to allow for spontaneous and on-the-spot learning.

9. Encouragers and nurturers of children who will grow and change within the year to ensure the readiness for the next stage of learning at school.

10. School and community team members and community knowing this  is the way to get the ‘best’ from everyone and to provide equitable learning so that ‘everyone gets a go’ to be ‘the best they can’.

About Denyse Whelan B.Ed. M.Ed.

Denyse is a now-retired K-6 Australian schooling educator who has been a K-6 teacher, deputy principal and school principal, university tutor, and ESL teacher.
She has more than 4 decades of experience as both an educator and parent in the Australian schooling system. She has worked in schools including the small 2 teacher schools in remote NSW, Central Schools K-12 in NSW, large Western Sydney K-6 Schools and her principal role  saw her manage a school with mainstream students, a special education support unit, 2 ‘opportunity classes’ (GAT) and an Autism Spectrum Satellite Classs
Denyse believes in life-long learning and that learning takes place formally and informally in our lives every day.

Denyse blogs about education each week here:
Follow her on twitter: @denysewhelan1  Facebook Page: denysewhelanblogs

Tummy Time Tips {Guest Post}

Well it's a new month, hubby has gone back to work, I'm adjusting to being home alone with the two little ones, and just getting brave enough to do little short trips out with both of them. Little Man is one month old and loves tummy time!

In April last year, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cindy from Your Kids OT (you can read it here). It's so wonderful when other experts in the area of Early Childhood can contribute their knowledge to Teacher Types, and today Cindy is sharing her tips on how to go about 'tummy time' with new little babies. A great post for new parents, or a refresher for second, third or fourth time around parents!

Thank you and welcome Cindy!

“Back to sleep, tummy to play” was coined as a response to encouraging parents to lay their babies to sleep on their back to help reduce the risk of SIDS- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or "cot death".

Tummy time encourages a baby with the development of head, neck and upper body muscles.  This development is so important as baby learns to roll over, sit up, crawl, stand and walk.  All these activities need baby to have the strength to support themselves against gravity and develop postural tone.  Tummy time helps them to understand how to weight-shift and over time use both arms at the same time (bilateral coordination).  Weight bearing on baby’s arms and hands is an important benefit of tummy time and crawling that can be sometimes overlooked.  Tummy time also helps to prevent the development of flat areas on the back of their head.

Here are some tips to get started with tummy time!

1. Keep it short

Start with 1 or 2 minutes. Allow sufficient time after a feed.  If baby falls asleep, gently turn them over onto their backs.   You can increase the time as baby gets used to this position and develops strength.  There are no rules on time, however aiming for 10-15 minutes across a day is a good start.

2. Try different positions – Have you tried...

  • Chest to chest with a parent
  • Lying across a parent's forearm
  • Lying over a rolled up small towel or blanket
  • Lying over a parent's leg
  • Securely held on a gym ball or roller
  • Lying on an inclined surface (such as a cot mattress raised slightly on one end)
  • Lying across a parent's lap
  • With parent lying down, baby held up on parent's calves (see photo)

Remember to help baby to turn their neck so they alternate the cheek down. You may also want to check out some more photos of tummy time positions here.

3. Make it fun and interactive

A baby should never be left alone during tummy time and you can use this opportunity to interact with your baby.  Trying the positions which place baby on you as a parent.  If they are lying on their own, get down with them onto the floor or ask a sibling to lie down with baby!

Sing, talk or just gaze into their eyes.  Provide toys or a non-breakable mirror for them as they get older and start to use their arms to push up.  Turn a book or read your magazine so they can fix their eyes and develop visual tracking skills whilst on their tummy.

4. Don’t give up!

It’s true that not all babies like tummy time but don’t give up!  Remember the previous 3 tips and take a break.  Try again.  As a therapist, I have to often re-introduce tummy time to older babies and even young children.  They may have already achieved some developmental milestones; however they struggle with other motor skills or postural tone (eg. they need to lean against furniture when sitting on the floor, they have to hold their head when writing at the table).

Tummy time should not be a chore.  It can be enjoyable and your baby will love the interaction they have with you.  Do you have a tummy time tip for new parents?

Cindy is a registered Occupational Therapist practising in Sydney Australia with over 15 years experience.  She has two young children who are a constant source of inspiration and learning. Cindy loves working creatively to help children to reach their potential, finding opportunities in everyday living and making learning fun. Cindy is the author of the Occupational Therapy blog Your Kids OT.

Connect with Cindy at Your Kids OT: 
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