We love pairing books with a toy or crafting materials for the holidays (and birthdays) and we wanted to share some of the books we are currently loving this season! 

* Some of them we purchased ourselves, while others we given a copy to review, but we only share things that we truly enjoy!  (Nor do we use affiliate links)*

Literacy Invitations to Play Cards from Imagination Tree

  • This is fantastic way to develop your child’s understanding of literacy (all that encompasses reading and writing etc.) in hands-on ways.  When I was an educator that was always my preferred method of teaching!  These cards are written by an experienced teacher and mother of 4, Anna, whose website The Imagination Tree (https://theimaginationtree.com/) and membership group has lots of dedicated followers for a reason!  You might be familiar with her Kindness Elves (https://theimaginationtree.com/kindness-elves/) and her Sensory Invitations to Play Cards as well.  The introduction of the cards talks about why learning through play is important particularly for early learning (my kids are school age and love the activities in the cards), how to build literacy in your home and/ or school, how phonics, sight and high frequency words work and then over 50 different things to do to develop these skills.  Each card has a list of needed items, a “Make” and a “Play” section and the purpose of the ideas.  I would give this to friends that have kids (perfect for preparing kids for schooling and wonderful within themselves) and those that are teachers as the ideas are great for in the classroom setting and the cards are in a handy, easy to use format!  See one of the projects we tried below!

Pin this idea

Invitations to Play: Literacy We had the chance to review The Imagination Tree's Wonderful literacy cards, perfect for in the classroom or at home!

Super Sensory Bins

  • Happy Toddler Playtime (https://happytoddlerplaytime.com/) is a website full of neat ideas to do with your little ones at home.  Mandisa, mother of 3 (and shout-out to a fellow Canadian) just recently published this sensory bin book that I ordered for my nephew along with things that he has loved seeing the cousins play with over Face Time. (Can’t wait until we can be together again! When he and his mom would come over, we would always have a sensory bin set up for him in the kitchen.) Our kids could literally play with sensory bins for hours even still as older children.  When we lead yearly programs in the summer, the children always flock to the daily sensory related bins and activities (from ages 6-10) and on more than one occasion I have seen parents at groups etc. dive right in there with the kids having a great time!  Sensory bins are a great opportunity for play, learning, exploring different textures and materials and interacting with others.  We have seen the success of them in our children’s pre-K, Play school and Kindergarten experiences so this book would also be great for educators!

Find the book here (full list of retailers)  https://happytoddlerplaytime.com/exciting-sensory-bins-for-curious-kids/

  • Canadians:

- Chapters/ Indigohttps://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/exciting-sensory-bins-for-curious/9781645671688


  • Americans: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Exciting-Sensory-Bins-Curious-Kids/dp/1645671682/

Here’s a video about what we popped into our bin (our nephew likes seeing dinosaurs playing in lava hence the baking soda and vinegar addition).  We recommend a SHALLOW BIN for sensory play (we ordered ours online and accidentally got the wrong one!). What would you add to your Sensory Bin?

Pin this idea

Sensory Bin Labels (as well as a Happy Holidays and a Happy Birthday label and a book suggestion for yours!)

Happy Tot Shelf

  • Growing up, I was so lucky to have two wonderful sisters and now my children have that opportunity with siblings.  Being home during the pandemic and doing online school together, the kids spend a lot of time together!  We are unable to see other families (aside from our house to our neighbours/friends at the sidewalk), being immunocompromised (The kids definitely connect with their pals on Facetime, on the phone and through the mail.) so this book is perfect for the kids!  We spend a lot of time on building strong sibling bonds in our family and Fynn of  Happy Tot Shelf  (https://happytotshelf.com/has written this great book of learning, play and creating together!  These projects are still excellent opportunities for a single child to do with a friend and/or to do as a collaborative activity in a classroom.  Fynn’s background is in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math)- she holds a degree in Chemical Engineering, a post graduate diploma in Education and she was was a Math and Science teacher.   Now she shows you accessible ways to infuse learning into your home (and hers!) for multiple children of multiple ages!
  • Find the book here:
  • Canadians:

- Chapters/ Indigohttps://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-happy-learning-book-for/9789811224348-item.html  - Amazonhttps://www.amazon.ca/Happy-Learning-Book-Siblings-Activities/dp/981122434X/

  • Americans: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Happy-Learning-Book-Siblings-Activities/dp/981122434X/

Pin this idea

The Happy Learning Book for Siblings by Happy Tot Shelf

Mini Masterpieces

  • We consistently enjoy The Innovation Press https://www.theinnovationpress.com/ for their diverse set of published books- particularly their biographies, stunning picture books and their focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math).  This book is written by Laura Lohmann of Painted Paper (https://www.paintedpaperart.com/).  It is a great way for children to explore art history and the styles of various artists through projects using different mediums!  This would make a lovely gift for the winter holiday from school along with some art supplies or give it to a teacher to use in their classroom to bring their art curriculum alive!  Art was always one of my favourite things to teach- we would learn the concept, the students would apply the ideas in their own way and then we would listen to music and talk while we created- the best way to spend the last period of a Friday afternoon!

Pin this idea

Mini Masterpieces from the Innovation Press

Sewing Simple Softies

  • Trixi of Sew a Softie (https://www.sewasoftie.com/) formerly Coloured Buttons has been teaching sewing for almost thirty years and it shows.  I like her approach to children’s creating this craft form, focusing on learning the process, with lots of handy tips!  She is a softie designer and has written books for both parents and educators to use.  Each year Trixi also hosts Sew a Softie events online (often in July and sometimes like this year, during the Festive season) with contributors from all over the world!  Trixi has collaborated with another author (Deborah Fisher) on this book and seventeen other designer including US!
  • Find it here:
  • Canadians:

- Chapters/ Indigohttps://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/sewing-simple-softies-with-17/9780764361272-item.html


  • Americans: 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Sewing-Simple-Softies-Amazing-Designers/dp/0764361279/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=sewing+simple+softies&qid=1599656860&sr=8-

Sewing Simple Softies



Parade Family Book Club

Happily Ever Elephants Book Club

  • Want to get your kids digging deeper into understanding reading while connecting with them?  Reading together is my favourite time of the day with the kids and this e-book allows you to extend that experience in meaningful ways.  Written by Children’s Librarian and one of my favourite book reviews, Lauren of  Happily Ever Elephants https://happilyeverelephants.com/, you will be impressed with the thoughtful suggestions of books and how to explore the themes in them!

Paper, Recyclable & Nature Crafting

The recycling bin is a constant source of inspiration for kids to create with!  And paper is something that is often inexpensive and readily available.  Here are a few books that the kids  (and other we have gifted them to) have enjoyed from various authors:

Red Ted Art Paper Project Book

  • Fun and Easy Crafting with Recycled Materials: Written by Kimberly of The Best Ideas for Kids https://www.thebestideasforkids.com/, this is fantastic way for kids to be creative while taking care of the earth, reusing items for different purposes.  We could tell this book was a hit when we sent it to my niece as a gift this year because she sent us tonnes of photos of the creations and a book filled with stickies to make so many more!  We have given it to both kids and teachers alike! Find the full review and where to buy it here: http://make-it-your-own.com/recycled-craft-book/

Fun and Easy Crafting with Recycled Materials: 60 Cool Projects that Reimagine Paper rolls, Egg Cartons, Jars and More: Kimberly McLeod


  • Sticks and Stones: Written by Melissa of Fireflies and Mudpies (https://www.firefliesandmudpies.com/), this book has the most beautifully photographed projects!  We are lucky to live close to a river valley so our children have had the opportunity to have once a week Forest School in this beautiful green space.  Getting out and appreciating nature is so important to children’s development!  This book takes items found in nature and shows you how to create with them.  We have given it as a gift to teachers!  Find the full review and how to purchase this book here: http://make-it-your-own.com/book-review-sticks-and-stones/


  • Paper Crafts for Kids: Written by Stefania Luca of Non-Toy Gifts for Kids,  https://nontoygifts.com/we gave this book to my niece who loves to make stuff for Canadian Thanksgiving!   This is a good book for kids who are just getting into making items as there are templates included which they can use and then expand upon as they learn how to put things together!  It would make a great stocking stuffer (just gently curve it)!  Find the review and where to purchase the book here: http://make-it-your-own.com/fall-fingerprint-cards/

Paper Crafting Book from Non Toy GIfts

  • Rock Art Handbook: Written by Samantha Sarles of Color Made Happy (https://colormadehappy.com/), this book is THE go-to for rock painting!  It honestly has the best suggestions for materials that work really well and tonnes of creative projects to get you started.  When asked, I always send people to this book if they like creating with a rock canvas!  Find the full review here and how to purchase the book: http://make-it-your-own.com/rock-sunflower/


Picture Book

Rainbow Gift Ideas

What books would you add to this list?


Please like & share:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.