Before you head out to buy a lot of Christmas toys this year, ask yourself — what happened to the toys from last year? Forgotten? Bottom of the toy box? Never taken out of the box? Interesting for only two days? These are common mom observations, and it can be a challenge to find meaningful Christmas gifts.
No surprise, I look for gifts that are fun and encourage learning, so here is my list of the top 10 educational gifts for kids this year:
1) Building Blocks — For the younger set, there is no better toy for developing imagination and fine motor skills than wooden blocks in various shapes.
2) Books — Remember your favorite book when you were the child’s age and give that to him. Give it a personal touch by signing the inside cover with a message that tells the child why it was special to you.
3) Brain Builders — Find challenging workbooks and kits, such as Sylvan’s Kick Start or Sylvan’s grade level reading or math workbooks, to keep brains busy during the holiday break and make tough subjects fun for months after the holiday.
4) Brain Games —
Blokus, for ages 5 to adult, is a great strategy game.
Word Winder, for ages 8 to adult, is a combination of Scrabble and Strategy created by puzzle guru David Hoyt.
Rush Hour is a classic stocking stuffer for kids ages 8 and up.
Tapple is a word skill builder for ages 6 to adult and moves quickly for kids who lose patience with slow board games.
5) Marbles — The store, that is. I love everything they sell in that store! It has brain teasers for kids ages 3 – 100. Be prepared to lose yourself playing in the store. They also have online retail.
7) Building Sets for the Older Set — LEGO® building bricks, the Goldie Blox Spinning Machine and a classic bird feeder construction set all give kids the satisfaction of creating their own piece of art.
8) Sketch Pad and a Set of Pastels — Even the non artist child will be delighted and inspired to create a masterpiece.
9) Gifts of Experience — Tickets to a museum or a play are both gifts of experience. (The Broadway in Chicago tickets that Santa brought my family years ago changed our lives!)
10) Academic Confidence —Gift cards for academic programs to ensure kids are excelling in school and confident in their ability to learn are gifts that pay the greatest dividends.
There are a lot of lists of top 10 educational gifts for kids, but make sure you avoid toys where “no child is required.” If the gift is all electronic and has no interaction, the average child will tire of the toy within two days. And remember, with all of the games, toys and experiences, the best gift is one that allows you to spend time with your child.
If you had to pick the No. 1 educational gift for kids, what would it be?