learning in the every day: classic, creative play

classic, creative play, cora mailboxAs much as I am an advocate of parents being teachers for their children and helping their kiddos to build a solid foundation for learning waaaay before those children walk through the shining school doors, I am also a strong proponent of play.

Free play, pretend play, independent play, group play, inside play, outside play, clean play, and good, ole-fashioned gettin’ dirty-in-the-mud play.

Any kind of play is cool in my book, really.

I know that not only is play an important element in kids’ lives–it’s a necessary one. For more reasons than I can count.

As a parent, from the very beginning, I reached for products that I felt would support Maddy, Owen, and Cora’s imaginations, curiosity, and learning.   And time after time, I found myself with products from one company: Melissa & Doug.

Here’s the skinny:

I’ve had a big-time company crush on Melissa & Doug for years now. 

So I was first completely and utterly thrilled when Melissa & Doug recognized the fabulousness of the we teach forum and requested to partner with us this year.


classic, creative play, melissa & doug trunkiThere’s nothing like free-bird, unstructured outside play time.


But then I literally danced around the house after Melissa & Doug declared 2012 as the year of classic, creative play (yay!)–and when they asked me to be one of their first Blog Ambassadors (double yay!)–I did a jig of joy like never before.  And then I hit them with a big, happy, totally over-the-moon yes, yes, YES!!

I’m excited not only because I’ll be working with a company that I can stand firmly behind, but I’m totally pumped because of what this means for the awesome and incredible teach mama readers.  It means you’ll be the first ones to learn about–and win!–new products, grab seasonal deals, and see first-hand the ways in which this company supports schools, families, and communities.classic, creative play, melissa & doug trunki walk

It also means that I’ll be working with the amazing and talented Valerie from Frugal Family Fun Blog, as Valerie is also a Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador.  Valerie is an expert in creating pretend play, making something out of just about anything, and sharing ways that parents and teachers can bring a little creative, crafty, frugal FUN! into their lives.   I’m so very excited and honored to work with her.


  • Melissa & Doug Trunki: We’re ready to kick off the 2012: the year of classic, creative play campaign, and Melissa & Doug would like to give away one Trunki to one teach mama reader and one Trunki to a Frugal Family Fun Blog reader!  SO fun!!

We are big Trunki fans over here.  We’ve got our own hot pink Trixie Trunki, and we bought a green Terrence Trunki for one of our nephews for Christmas.

Not sure what a Trunki is? A Trunki is a ride-on suitcase that works perfectly as a carry-on for airline flights or for an overnight at a buddy’s. 

But a Trunki can also be used in a million other ways.  Some use Trunki’s for organizing, cleaning, storing, exercising, or carrying. Stacking, transporting, or entertaining. You name it.

classic, creative play, melissa & doug trunki dog toysTrunki is packed and ready for an adventure!

All we needed was a sunny day, a hyperactive pooch, and three energetic kids to figure out that a Trunki is perfect for transporting dog toys, sidewalk chalk, water, and bubbles–everything we needed for a lazy weekend walk to the park.

Here’s how Maddy, Owen, Cora, and Brady play with our Trunki:


outdoor fun with Trunki

We really didn’t do much on this day but play outside.

Under the sun, chasing our dog, watching the water creep along the tennis courts.   Pretending that Brady was a lion and Maddy and Cora were princesses and Owen was the prince. 

And then once Brady’s water spilled, Maddy made Owen and Cora close their eyes while she tip-toed away, leaving behind wet footprints.  And then the two became spies, searching for their big sister by following her steps across the court, around in circles, and over the fence into the grass.

We colored with chalk (shhh!-of course NOT on the tennis courts!), drawing palm trees and butterflies and pretending that we were stranded on an undiscovered island.

Then we all got chilly, so we packed up Brady’s toys, locked up the Trunki, and went on our merry way, climbing mountains and trudging through forests, searching for our way back home.

That’s really all we did.  But that’s okay, because play is important.  It’s reallly important.

In fact, one of the Key Messages of the NAEYC‘s position statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practices in Early Childhood Programs focuses on specifically on play:

. . . Active scaffolding of imaginative play is needed in early childhood settings if children are to develop the sustained, mature dramatic play that contributes significantly to their self-regulation and other cognitive, linguistic, social, and emotional benefits. Adults can use proven methods to classic, creative play, melissa & doug trunki walkpromote children’s extended engagement in make-believe play as well as in games with rules and other kinds of high-level play (from NAEYC’s Developmentally Appropriate Practices, 2009).

What resonates most with me from the whole thing is this one, big-money statement: Rather than detracting from academic learning, play appears to support the abilities that underlie such learning and thus to promote school success  (from NAEYC’s Developmentally Appropriate Practices, 2009).  Love. It.

So not only is play good for kids, it ultimately helps promote school success. Fab-u-lous.

And we get to work with a company that is creating products that support classic, creative play?


Makes me love them even more.



GIVEAWAY: One Melissa & Doug Trunki (color of winner’s choice–blue, green, red, orange, pink, or purple!)

Do you want to win one Melissa & Doug Trunki?!

  • All you have to do is leave a comment here explaining one creative way your family will use the Trunki.

For extra entries:

  • Tweet this: Win a @MelissaAndDoug Trunki on @teachmama — celebrate classic, creative #play  http://wp.me/p1NAxy-1yA  #weteach #ece
  • Share this post on your Facebook page–very easy!
  • Share this post with a friend (just tell me who you shared it with!)
  • Pin this post (or another favorite teach mama post!) on Pinterest! (Use ‘pin it!’ button below post and just tell me what you pinned!)


By entering this giveaway, you are demonstrating your understanding of and compliance with the Official Sweepstakes Rules.

This contest ends this Friday, January 13, 2012 at midnight ET. Winner will be chosen by ‘And the Winner is. . .’ and will be notified on or around 1/14/12.  Winner must respond within three (3) days of notification or forfeit the prize, in which case an alternate winner will be selected.  All Official Sweepstakes Rules apply.

fyi: This is an unsponsored post, written by me as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program.  I received a Trunki from Melissa & Doug, and Melissa & Doug is providing one teach mama reader with a Trunki as well.  Opinions are all my own, influenced only by my three little ones and our brave, fierce pooch.  Links within this post are affiliate links.




  1. says

    I’m pretty sure my kids would use a Trunki to transport hurt stuffed animals to and from their animal hospital – which has been raging, of late. Or, it’ll be added to my 4 year old’s illegal daycare / hospital to care for the way too many babies that reside there. Although really, these predictions pretty much mean my kids will find something completely different to do with it. Who knows? Interesting to me is that this toy seems to have a feel so different from other Melissa and Doug toys (wooden food, wooden puzzles, etc.)

  2. says

    I think it would be great for transporting dolls or action figures back and forth to Grandma’s house. We will definitely get a lot of use out of this!!

  3. says

    Congrats on your work with Melissa and Doug! We love their products too and would use the Trunki when we travel! I love how it can be a seat in airports to keep my kids off the gross floors when there are no seats in the boarding areas!

  4. says

    My lil guy would love a Trunki!! I can see him stuffing it full of lego’s, or cars and pulling it around all day. I’ve been stocking him up with play/felt foods for his kitchen (calling him The Next Iron Chef) so this would be helpful for ‘catering’ events at friends houses 😉

  5. Dawn K says

    We’d use it as a raft to sail the open seas! My 20 month old LOVEs to crawl and sit inside of boxes, bags, etc. so this would be perfect!

  6. Christina says

    My kids would use the Trunki on our upcoming vacation to the North Carolina mountains, and will probably be using it for leaves and rocks once we get there!


  7. Gizala says

    My daughter was just telling me a few days ago she needs something in which to keep her dress up items. This would be perfect for all the little scarves, slippers and whatnots!

  8. AmyY says

    I think the Trunki would make a great carry on for our girls to pack some of their quiet activities for our upcoming plane ride.

  9. Sue says

    I would use Trunki to store some educational things for my granddaughters. I would also share it with the girls when they fly so they could have a safe place to sit/ride at the airport.

  10. Melissa Foster says

    I would use the trunki for so many fabulous play things. My son would imagine it being a trunk to take into space, etc. It would also be used for storage and of course trips to grandma’s house!

  11. says

    I discovered Trunki when I was Christmas shopping on the Melissa and Doug website. I think it’s the coolest thing ever! My 2 year old already climbs on top of suitcases and wants people to wheel him through the house, so I think a trunki would be a better fit. Although, if I win, I may have to get one in a girl color for my new niece who is coming home from China sometime this year!!! I think Trunki would make a good welcome home gift!

  12. Tiffany Miller says

    My girls (6 and 4) would love to use Trunki to go shopping or to take their babies to the park. We are constantly looking for good ways to transport toys and their special items that want to have when we go on car rides, or trips to see family. Glad to see you partnered with M&D!

  13. Tracy H says

    We live in an apartment and my daughter would love the trunki to bring her toys to the park that we frequently visit.

  14. Dina Levin-Nadler says

    I would have my son use his new Trunki as his carry on when we go visit my parents next month! We’d also use the TRunki at home for some less often used toy storage.

  15. Sarah Yang says

    I believe my daughters would use it to store their Barbies and then play with it as a Barbie house, pool, etc.

  16. Melinda Yeargan says

    My son likes to pack and unpack anything. He has been doing a lot of traveling lately by bus and train to and from different rooms in our house. This would be perfect for his travels. He would love the purple one, but any color would do. Great blog site! Thanks!

  17. Samantha says

    Our girls would LOVE this, especially if it was pink! I could imagine them using it in numerous ways. They love to play, “go on vacation” they pack all the toys they think they’ll need, inclurding lots of dress up clothes and they go through the airport, we all get on the plane and they make sure we have everything under the seat in front of us. Luckily, it is usually a very quick flight and then we go to the hotel and they get all their toys and clothes out to play.

  18. Samantha says

    Our girls would LOVE this, especially if it was pink! I could imagine them using it in numerous ways. They love to play, “go on vacation” they pack all the toys they think they’ll need, including lots of dress up clothes and they go through the airport, we all get on the plane and they make sure we have everything under the seat in front of us. Luckily, it is usually a very quick flight and then we go to the hotel and they get all their toys and clothes out to play.

  19. Melinda says

    My son would love the purple one. He has been traveling a lot lately by bus and train back and forth to different rooms in our house. He loves to load and unload everything so this would be perfect for him. Great blog! Thanks!

  20. Andrea says

    i’d give it to my daughter to haul around whatever her ‘baby’ is for the day, and then she could follow my son around as the house as he’s always dragging *his* suitcase around the house with his treasures. and then hopefully they’d stop fighting over the single suitcase we have now :)

  21. Aura says

    It’s really up to my kids imagination on how they would use the trunki although I think my little guy would use it to haul around his cell phones, keys and tools he likes to stick in his onesie when he runs out of hand space. My daughter would use it for her everlasting pile of “treasures” that I find hidden all over the house- prizes, stickers, rings from milk bottles… etc. and her twin would use it to ride on and make everyone pull him around. I would like it for our day trips when the weather gets a bit nicer. Now that my baby is almost 2 I would like him to stop using the stroller but the trunki would be great to carry around all our outdoor toys and snacks and I still have an option of pulling around the little guy (or the twins) if they get tired.

  22. Kelly says

    The Trunki would great for pretend play—pack a bag as if you were going on a road trip to visit family. I know lots of stuffed animals would be in there. Thanks for the chance to win!

  23. Katie says

    Andrew’s going to use this to store all of his treasures!!!! Soon enough it will be filled with dinosaurs, trains and rocks!!!!!

  24. Carmen says

    This would be perfect for us as we are planning on visiting the grandparents in Florida in a few weeks and need a good carry-on for our little one.

  25. says

    Love the Trunki! I hadn’t heard of it before, but what a perfect way to carry all your extra stuff for those long days at the park or street fairs, etc, where a backpack is a pain, but a wagon is too much!

  26. Erin Zackey says

    What fun! I could see my kids going on a “camping” trip to the backyard fort with this! Or on adventures to the school playground across the street, and definitely for real use on our big airplane trip this summer!

  27. Erin Zackey says

    Since I’m a new reader I’m have been PUMPED to pin lots of your ideas, the shoe tie box, me on the map, recyclables ideas,I could go on and on! Just this week we’ve tried probably half a dozen new ideas, yay!!!

  28. Debbie says

    Oh my gosh…so many things could be done with a trunki. What a great idea.
    I would use it when I take my 2 year old granddaughter on an “adventure”…that means going someplace we have not gone before (flea market, farmer’s market, etc) to get treasure (rocks, leaves, grapes, whatever) to take home to her mommy and daddy.
    (I will pin this for other granparents to find.)

  29. says

    We would use the Trunki to transport all manner of My Little Pony or Polly Pocket toys from one level of the house to the next. Either that or it would become an American Girl suitcase. I tweeted and pinned this!

  30. Lori P. says

    I would give it to my daughter. She would use it with her son, for their walks to the library and to church to carry all different things besides their book’s and bibles.

  31. says

    Oh my goodness, so MANY ways to use a Trunki. In addition to transporting various animals, dolls, Legos and then for actual travel to places like the beach house, playdates, visiting grandparents, and such, my kids would probably use this as a “stuffed animal/doll sled” to send items down the stairs (I didn’t say this would be an APPROVED activity, I just know my kids). I like Leticia’s idea of it being a great way to let kids sit in places where the alternative is a grimy floor! It could be a great way to transport a “keep busy but quiet” when I have to take one kid to another kid’s activity (cheerleading practice, Cub Scout meeting, etc.) Potentially a great way to pack the ten million wet items that invariably go back and forth to the pool in summer time (yay, Mommy no longer has to be a pack horse!) Oh… so many possibilities….

  32. Alana says

    It’s not very creative, but I’m sure the main use this would have for us is a constant-carryall for our daughter. I can totally see her cramming anything and everything in there and going on “trips” around the house.

  33. Nichole Weight says

    I was eyeing one of these around Christmas time but just never got around to it. We would use it to keep all of our “car puppets” in! Puppets in the car keep their imaginations going enough that there is no fighting in that 3rd row but they do end up getting scattered and stepped on. This could go right in between the older two kids for easy access and no reason to not clean up!

  34. says

    I love boxes and containers that are the right size for kids. I would use the Trunki for one of 2 things. We have a LARGE collection of toy tractors and farm equipment that goes with us to meetings, events where the younger sibling needs to be entertained etc, so tractor hauler would be my first guess of the use. My second thought goes to my little neice, in which all thigns dress-up would be a good start, but then maybe it would be food prep and kitchen stuff, hummm the possibilities are endless.

  35. says

    My son Holden is currently 6 months old. He LOVES standing up and leaning on things…so firstly I can see the trunki being of great support as Holden learns to walk and stand more. Holdens most favorite thing in the world right now (next to his mom and dad) is his best buddy and our pet dog – Bogie. I can see many hours of fun as we trundle our trunki around the paved driveway, pulling out treats to feed Bogie. The final use for our trunki would be to fill with our over night goodies for sleep overs at our gram and pappy’s who live a few hours away.
    Thank you!

  36. Julie says

    I can see our 4 year old carrying everything in the Trunki. I envision his doctor supplies, his vet supplies, his school supplies….all the toys he likes to take in car everyday. And definitely all his stuffed pals…so many uses!

  37. TaraO says

    My daughter loves to go to the park and have a picnic, so we would pack picnic stuff in thevTrunki (a stuffed animal to join us at the picnic, cups, napkins, juice, snacks, etc.)

  38. Epiphius says

    There’s no telling how my kids would use a Trunki! They LOVE to pack things into bags and packages and give each other presents or have them ready to go out the door at a moment’s notice! If I get to decide, it’ll be packed for park play in any season so we can just go when the mood strikes!

  39. Kate says

    My twins love to to fill our recycled grocery bags filled with the items they treasure that day. I can only imagine they would do the same with a Trunki!

  40. Janelle says

    I’m sure the Trunki would get most of it’s use taking dolls (and who knows what else) back and forth between Grandmas house!

  41. Janelle says

    My daughter is very into dressing up and changing her clothes right now. I have a feeling this trunki would be filled with many, many changes of clothes and accessories!

  42. Beth R says

    The trunki would make a great addition to our camping and canoeing trips. Our son would carry all his sand toys in it down to the river and then I am sure it would be great for taking his trains everywhere too! Thank you!!

  43. Rachel Eidson says

    We live very close to our public library so we would use the trunki to walt to the library and carry our books home :)

  44. Lauren says

    We are using our trunkie for Liam’s first airplane trip to carry all his goodies! And of course to occupy him in the airport!

  45. Lynda Thurman says

    My two young boys and I have many adventurous places within walking distance…playground, park, trails, library, etc. This would sure get a lot of use and get filled with many interesting things! Thankyou for the chance to win!

  46. Wendy Fox says

    My girl would use the Trunki to transport/walk her stuffed kitty when we take sister for a ride in the stroller and of course some bubbles and caulk would have to ride as well!

  47. Maggie says

    The Trunki looks like fun! My son is an infant, so right now we’d use it to store his books and they can go with us when we visit other friends/family. I want him to get used to always having books around, so the Trunki will be helpful!

  48. Christine Q says

    The Trunki looks like so much fun! I think my son would put Thomas trains and track in it to take with him to his grandparents house. So cool.


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