If your kids are like mine, they are excited for Christmas. In fact, the Thanksgiving dinner is never cleared from the table before my kids are asking when they can decorate the Christmas tree.
I have to admit, I’m excited about Christmas too. I enjoy the festive decorations, spending time with friends and family, and celebrating the birth of our savior. I also enjoy giving presents!
photo credit: wintersoul1 2017-01-03 05.44.42 via photopin (license)
Gift giving is always something I do with great consideration. Especially regarding my children. My gift giving mantra is, “tools, not toys!” I want to give gifts that will spark my kids’ imaginations, and not just entertain them. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite selections:
I know everyone recommends legos, but seriously, you can’t go wrong! If you have little ones, start with Lego Duplo. As they grow, add a Lego Classic Box. If your kids develop a love for building with Legos, tell the grandparents. Legos are easy to shop for online or at local department stores. We have been adding to our collection for several years through five children. They never get old!
We were introduced to KEVA planks while visiting a science center. They are pine planks used to create and build by stacking. They are wonderful tools to help kids develop an interest in architecture, building, and design. Our favorite set is KEVA Contraptions. Recommended for ages 7+. This is a great non-electronic activity for older kids!Domino Race Set
If you haven’t experienced a classic domino race, you haven’t lived!! The added tunnels and stairs in this Domino Race Set makes it even more fun. My kids will spend hours setting up creative domino runs, and timing which run was the fastest. Just don’t bump the table during set up! Some of these race sets can also be found on Amazon if you need to compare shipping options.
These little critters are fun to encourage pretend play. My daughter does not play with dolls, so I was initially hesitant to make the investment. She is an animal lover and adores these little critters. Calico Critter families and accessories are usually sold separately, so adding pieces can be an investment. In addition to online shopping, I have found them at Shopko and Walmart. Occasionally I find a discount deal at Tuesday Morning.Puzzles
Assembling puzzles develops fine motor skills, eye-hand coordination, and promotes problem-solving skills and logical thinking. We started our kids on wooden puzzles from Melissa & Doug and continued with larger pieced jigsaw puzzles as skills grew. Ravensburger offers high-quality puzzles with beautiful designs. Not only can you order higher grade puzzles online, but check the toy sections at local stores like Tuesday Morning, TJ Maxx or Ross for discount deals.
This is a unique construction set that promotes creativity. These sturdy, yet flexible straws can be held together with special connectors and clips. The connectors are small enough not be recommended for children under 3, but easy enough for small hands to assemble. This is a fun construction set that builds motor skills and imagination for all ages.
ZOOB is like no other building set I’ve seen. The pieces include gears, axles, and joints that snap together to build flexible creations. The pieces fit firmly requiring more developed fine motor skills, therefore the recommendation of ages 6+ is appropriate. Musical Instruments
Beginner instruments are a great way to introduce kids to music. If you have a natural drummer, like I do, a cajon is a good start. A cajon doesn’t take up the space of a full drum set, but still provides quality drum sound. I don’t guarantee your child will stop drumming on everything around the house though. Other good beginner instruments are youth guitar, harmonica, or introductory keyboard.
Giving in to my children’s interest in electronic devices, Snap Circuits was a great place to start. Using easy to assemble plastic modules, kids can build a number of working projects like a radio, doorbell, and more. Sets come with project manuals that increase in complexity. The kits provide a fun hands-on introduction to electronics.
Stop Motion Animation
We were introduced to the techniques of stop motion animation during a science center visit, and my son was hooked. Using legos, toys and many other props, he has written and created his own mini movies.
A pocket knife seems a rite of passage for boys. After lessons from dad on proper usage and safety, my guys have taken up whittling. Not to be outdone, my little tomboy has reached an age to have a knife of her own. She prefers one in pink, of course. My husband chose to purchase pocket knives from local stores, but whittling project books can be found online.
There are many wonderful tools available to engage kids, encourage creativity, and help them grow and develop. Although not an exhaustive list, these are some of my favorites. The only thing I left out was books. My favorite gift giving book choices would be too long a list, and deserve a separate post.
I’m always looking for suggestions on great gifts for kids that will spark imagination. What tools have you found to engage your children?