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10 Most Popular Educational Resources Of 2021

Magnetic Tiles construction on table

Let’s talk about learning resources and what makes some of them so popular! Is it the quality, reliability and value for money? Is it their sustainability and eco-friendly footprint on the environment? Is it the play value? Yes, absolutely! But it’s also so much more than that.

It’s the resources that are also innovative and open-ended. Resources that children use to engage with the world around them, that inspire and invite discovery through exploration.

Resources that nourish a child’s senses, that awaken and support their natural curiosity and imagination. Resources that incite wonder and encourage children to question and investigate to find new understandings.

Resources that equip children to develop new skills and build on existing skills as they flourish in a supportive learning environment.

Now that we’re all excited, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular learning resources in early years settings right now…


Creatistics Junior Eiffel Art Easel 

Easel in classroom setting

Made from oak hardwood, the Creatistics Junior Eiffel Art Easel brings both functionality and beauty to children’s artistic explorations. With their atelier feel, these easels provide children with creative spaces where their self-expression and big ideas can be nurtured.

But educators know that just because a resource might look good doesn’t mean it’ll last the distance – any resource needs to withstand the rigours of repeated use over and over again, each and every day, and that’s why these hard-wearing premium easels remain a favourite. Top marks also get awarded for the Perspex boards and smooth wooden finish that makes wiping off paint a breeze.


See-Through Sensory Balls 

child playing with sensory balls in classroom

Unlike anything else on the market, MTA’s See-Through Sensory Balls provide all the developmental benefits that ball games provide mixed with elements of STEM exploration for endless hours of mesmerising play. From floating feathers to jingling bells, sparkling sequins and bouncing beads, the various treasures inside these transparent bouncing balls offer children a wealth of sensory learning at their fingertips.


Spring-Loaded Drying Rack 

Art drying rack in classroom setting

Gone are the days of giant structures taking up the classroom with their hulking presence of dripping paint, always towering over the next activity or right in the way of where you’re trying to walk! How many of us have brushed past the day’s drying art and craft to spend the rest of the day covered in paint and glitter? Or check on children’s artwork only to find them all stuck together?

Not anymore!

That’s why these Spring-Loaded Drying Racks are so popular! They take A3-sized paper where artworks can rest flat (no drips!), layered racks (no stuck-together artworks!) and feature a minimalist design (no classroom skyscrapers!) and castors to roll this beauty right out of the way when needed.

Yes, please!


Jumbo Magnifiers with Stand 

child reaching for jumbo magnifier off stand

It’s easy to see why educators are adding magnifying glasses to their learning environments – both indoors and outdoors. Jumbo Magnifiers provide wonderfully hands-on provocations for children to explore their learning environment. Magnifying tools invite children to engage with their natural curiosity, imagination and wonder as they investigate and discover the world in grand scale magnification.

Seeing objects close up can provide observational possibilities that might have gone unnoticed, leading young explorers to analyse, question, compare and experiment – habits that lead to learning dispositions that will see children successfully navigate their way through their educational journey and beyond.

Little explorers discovering the small things today can lead to scientists making big discoveries in the future!


Max & Rosie Low Feeding Chair 

baby sat in Max & Rosie Feeding Chair

Mealtimes aren’t just about meals, and that’s one of the reasons why Max & Rosie Low Feeding Chairs are chosen by the education community. The low height of these chairs ensures children feel a sense of belonging at the table, being part of the group where they can meaningfully socialise and engage with their educators and classmates at eye level.

This low ‘highchair’ is not just for mealtimes; it’s a comfortable chair where young ones can interact and learn from each other throughout the day – perfect for engaging with painting and messy play, storytelling and music activities or general exploration and discovery with their peers.

Educators tell MTA they also love these low chairs for their functionality – easy wipe-down cleaning, removable padded cushion and tray, 5-point harness and foldability to store in tight places.

What’s not to love!


Translucent Magnetic Tiles 

Magnetic Tiles construction with sunlight reflection

Magnetic tiles make for incredibly satisfying open-ended play and take colour, shape and STEM exploration to a whole other level. If you’ve ever seen the awe and wonder in children’s faces when sunshine flows through these tiles, cascading their bright reflections onto the walls and floor, you’ll know why magnetic tiles have made the Most Popular list!

Encourage the development of problem-solving, logical thinking and creativity with 2D or 3D shape building, scientific magnetism experiments or add the magnetic tiles to light panels/light tables or overhead projectors for an explosion of colourful light, shadow and reflection.

MTA’s Translucent Magnetic Tiles boast stronger magnets built right into the tiles’ construction to ensure a stronger and more durable resource, enabling you and your students to build truly epic classroom structures.


MTA Spaces Hex Tray and Stand 

child playing with Hex tray in classroom

A quick internet search for ‘tough trays’ will bring up literally thousands of inspirational learning activities for young children – images, videos and how-to guides inspiring educators’ classroom set-ups.

But how did this craze begin?

It all started with a builder’s mixing tray that protected customers’ premises from the messy mixing of building materials – sand, cement, soil etc. These tough yet lightweight plastic trays were quickly adopted as a terrific solution for containing children’s messy play with an easy clean-up. A brilliantly functional piece of equipment!

The MTA Spaces Hex Tray and Stand joined the movement as an exclusive and stunning resource to complement learning spaces. Inspired by the unique shape of the honeycomb, these tough trays in neutral tones are excellent for messy play, creating mini-worlds, painting and exploratory play – every day they can be used in a new way!

With the height-adjustable stand, these Hex Trays are suitable for a wide range of ages; the tray on its own is suitable for babies (even from birth), making the Hex Tray an absolute favourite.

Messy play here we come!


Connecta-Mat Exercise Mat 

Kids ding front roll on exercise mats

Used on their own or connected together to make a super-sized safety area for children to explore their physical capabilities, the Connecta-Mat Exercise Mats ensure a soft surface to exercise and play, increasing children’s confidence while they gently and safely experiment with their full range of movement, improving their proprioception and gross motor skills along the way.

Exercise mats also provide a shock-absorbent base for high-energy activities, protecting children’s developing joints from high-impact tension as they explore risk-taking in their movement.

Entirely phthalate-free, the PE foam encapsulated in a durable polyester cover ensures these mats can be cleaned and disinfected as needed – an especially timely necessity in any education and care setting – elevating these exercise mats to even greater heights on safety rating checklists.


Natural Maths Sorting Kit

Natural maths teaching resources spread

From classifying and comparing sizes, shapes and weights to adding, subtracting and dividing quantities, maths is all around us in the form of natural loose parts! Nature has provided us with an abundance of wonderfully visual and tactile objects to spark children’s natural curiosity, inspiring creativity as they explore and discover early mathematical concepts.

Through natural loose parts, children can literally play with maths, investigating the foundational areas of early maths and mathematical concepts and connecting these with the numeracy involved in their everyday lives.

These wooden sorting trays, along with the plethora of intriguing natural loose parts, provide an inviting provocation for children to tinker with maths.

Where will their mathematical adventures take them?


MTA Spaces – Outdoor Play House 

Wood playhouse outside in park background

It’s the unique combination of the open yet protected sides and back of the MTA Spaces Play House that creates an intimate play space for children that also allows for maximum visual supervision. And it’s the open-ended flexibility of this furniture piece that also makes it a favourite – its design ensures endless possibilities. Children can use the minimalist structure to inspire their imaginations with free reign.

Is it a house? A fire station? The local juice bar?

This engaging Outdoor Play House can support children’s invitation to play with the addition of props too – blocks and building tools can transform this piece into a bustling construction zone. Comfy cushions, a rug and books can turn the Play House into a snug reading area or quiet nook. Add a little kitchen inside with tables and chairs outside and a restaurant is ready for customers.

What will it be today?

Did your favourite learning resource make the list?


Featured Products

Creatistics Junior Eiffel Art Easel

MTA’s See-Through Sensory Balls

Spring-Loaded Drying Racks

Jumbo Magnifiers

Max & Rosie Low Feeding Chairs

Magnetic Tiles

MTA Spaces Hex Tray and Stand

Connecta-Mat Exercise Mats

Natural Maths Sorting Kit

MTA Spaces Play House



About the Author
Penny Groen is an Early Childhood Teacher who has been working in Early Childhood Education and Care settings for 17 years. She has a passion for working in meaningful partnerships with families and communities, providing a responsive and engaging curriculum where everyone feels welcome to contribute. You can see Penny’s interest in the natural world with all the weird and wonderful experiments growing both inside and outside the classroom. Penny is also known for equipping children with the tools to explore their interests and celebrate the discoveries each day brings.



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Mirrors And Reflections In The Learning Environment

Mirrors and Reflections Preview

We see reflected and mirrored images wherever we go. From our own reflections looking back at us in the bathroom mirror or a shop window to the reflections of nature on a still lake or in our car’s rear-view or side mirrors – we are surrounded by reflections! Mirrors and reflections can bring curiosity, fascination and discovery for all of us, including children.

You’ll likely remember the look of surprise when a baby recognises themselves in the mirror, or the look of wonder and concentration as toddlers examine the details of their facial expressions or the happy giggles of pre-schoolers as they dress up and march past the mirror in their fancy and creative costumes. Mirrors and the reflections they make can be a source of fun, intrigue, inquiry and experimentation and have so many incredible learning opportunities. Let’s have a look at some mirrors and reflections activities ideal for the early childhood learning environment.


Mirrors + Nature

The great outdoors is filled with an endless supply of beautiful and interesting objects. Leaves, pebbles, sticks and twigs, flowers, feathers, pinecones, seedpods and grass to name but a few! You might even be fortunate enough to find an old birds’ nest on the ground after a windy day. It’s a wonderful opportunity for a nature treasure hunt, and the children are able to bring back their treasures to place on the mirrors ready for further exploration. There are all sorts of shapes, textures, colours and shades to investigate. With so many incredible reflections happening, many questions can arise and conversations can take place, welcoming further inquiry and exploration. This is also an ideal activity for magnifying glasses, opening the door for even more opportunities for reflective surface exploration.

Mirrors and Reflections, natural loose parts in mirrored tray

Featured Product:

Reflective Mirror Tray


Mirrors + Art

Mirrors are a great addition to the art space. They allow children to experiment and explore all the angles of their painting subjects, from still life paintings of fruit and flowers to exploring light and shapes in multiple dimensions. Mirrors can also be a fun way to combine art with the exploration of a child’s self-image by using their own face as the painting subject. Children are able to look at their reflection in the mirror and, using a brush with paint, they can apply the paint directly onto the mirror to create a portrait of themselves using the mirror as the painting surface. Simply wipe the mirror clean and it’s ready to go again.


Mirrors and Reflections portrait activity featuring childs painting on a mirror and paint pots

Featured Product:

Non- Spill Paint Pots

Reflective Mirror Tray

Mirrors + Loose Parts

Mirrors and loose parts go so well together. Loose parts play is all about the open-ended possibilities to use loose items to make and mould, to tinker around, to build and construct, to form shapes and patterns, to transport and carry loose items around or to use as visual representations for children’s imaginings. There’s really no limit to loose parts play. With loose parts, each day becomes a new way. Adding in mirrors provides even more possibilities for wonder and discovery, bringing mirrored images and reflections to the learning space for an extra added dimension to loose parts play.

Mirrors and Reflections buttons and jewels reflecting on Mirrored table

Featured Products:

Mirrored Sensory Tray

Mosaic Pieces



Omni Wooden People


Mirrors + Rainbows

So often children are fascinated by rainbows. The giant presence of a rainbow in the sky when the sun comes out after a rainy day is truly spectacular. There are bright colours to explore, all nesting neatly into each other in gradually increasing arches. When rainbows are reflected over a still lake there are even more opportunities for wonder and exploration. Recreating the magic of rainbows in the learning environment can be done using mirrors combined with colourful wooden rainbows. The rainbows can be rearranged in so many combinations of colour and size and can also be combined with all sorts of resources for building, loose parts exploration or small world play. The only limit is their imaginations!

Mirrors and Reflections rainbow arch refelcting in mirrored tray

Featured Products:

Three Panel Folding Mirror

Large Wooden Rainbow

Reflective Mirror Tray


Mirrors + Print Making

Another creative way to use mirrors in the learning environment is with paint as a print-making surface. Paint is added onto the mirror, ready to be smoothed out with brushes or sponges, or, for an, even more, fun hands-on sensory exploration, use hands and fingers to smooth the paint across the mirror. Your print-making surface is now ready for the design process to begin. Simply use brushes, or fingers, to make a pattern or picture in the paint. Place a piece of paper onto the paint-covered mirror and gently smooth the paper down. Then, carefully peel and lift the paper off the mirror to reveal the picture or print that has been transferred over. It’s a wonderful way to explore the concept of reflections and mirror images through hands-on art.

Mirrors and Reflections pink paint printing activity

Featured Products:

Pink Finger Paint

Non- Spill Paint Pots

A3 Cover Paper

Reflective Mirror Tray


Mirrors + Sensory Exploration

Mirror trays along with sensory exploration are also a wonderful addition to the learning environment, allowing all sorts of fun and discovery to take place using sand, slime, goop or foam. Hands-on sensory exploration has so many developmental benefits, from allowing children to get a ‘feel’ of their fingers and hands and all the things they can do, to building strength and coordination of motor skills. This all allows children to carry out so many everyday activities and tasks including drawing and writing, brushing teeth, self-feeding, dressing and undressing, building and construction or working on fiddly and tricky manipulation objects. Children are able to use their hands and fingers to make lines and patterns in the sand or other chosen sensory material, drawing and even experimenting with making the form and shapes of numbers and letters.

Mirrors and Reflections_mirrored tray filled with sand and sandcastles

Featured Products:

Magic Sand

Reflective Mirror Tray


Mirrors + Construction

A mirror added to building and construction adds another level of interest and intrigue. Mirrors can be used as a building surface, or placed in and around the building space, allowing children to explore and experiment with the shapes and forms of their chosen building materials as their structure builds up into the sky. The best part of construction is knocking it down afterwards! We all know that happy sound of shrieking and laughter as a child knocks down their building when they’ve finished with it. Mirrors multiply the merriment, providing many angles of reflection as buildings go up as well as down. And when mirrors are added with more mirrors, they reflect children’s constructions infinitely. It’s an activity-rich in exploration and learning!

Mirrors and Reflections LEGO Duplo on mirrored table

Featured Products:

LEGO Duplo Brick Set

Reflective Mirror Tray


How do you use mirrors in your learning environment? We’d love to hear from you!


About the Author

Penny Groen is an Early Childhood Teacher who has been working in Early Childhood Education and Care settings around Sydney for 17 years. She has a passion for working in meaningful partnerships with families and communities, providing a responsive and engaging curriculum where everyone feels welcome to contribute. You can see Penny’s interest in the natural world with all the weird and wonderful experiments the growing both inside and outside the classroom. Penny’s also known for equipping children with the tools to explore their interests and celebrate the discoveries each day brings


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