With the holidays quickly approaching, you’re probably making your list and checking it twice as you attempt to create a balance in the gifts that you buy for your children, nieces, nephews and other young family members and friends. The kids want gifts that are fun, fun, fun, and you want to give them something that has at least some educational value. It’s what moms do! Here are some ideas for gifts that will stimulate their brains in fun ways, so they won’t even realize that they’re learning:
- Jigsaw Puzzles My kids love these, and they aren’t even aware that they’re improving their spatial and logic skills. Your little ones would probably enjoy the wooden puzzles that have the picture behind them. They have really cute and well-made ones at Melissa & Doug. Kindergarteners can often handle 24-piece puzzles with some help at first, and elementary school-aged children usually like 100-piece puzzles. As they grow, the piece count can, too; our teenager enjoys 500- and even 1000-piece puzzles. A great option is to buy a large puzzle for the whole family to work on during the cold days of winter; anyone can sit down and work for a few minutes or a few hours! Glue it all together at the end with Modge Podge or something similar, and you can hang it up in the playroom or your child’s bedroom.
- Chess and Checkers Chess is a game that helps to develop logic skills in kids of all ages. While my kids learned the basic rules when they were around six years old, I can really see the development in foresight and logic in my preteen. If you don’t know how to play chess, try asking the children’s librarian; some libraries have a chess club that’s open to children as well as adults. Checkers is another good one for developing logic skills, particularly in younger kids.
- Other Classic Games (with a twist for the littles) Scrabble and Yahtzee are fun and educational games that my kids love. When they were littler, we would pour out all of the Scrabble tiles and they could take their time looking for the letters that they needed to make words on the grid. We would also play an abbreviated Yahtzee game, where we’d only concentrate on the top part of the scoresheet. As they got older, we moved toward the actual rules. Now they’re responsible for adding up their own scores, which adds to the brain workout!
In your quest to provide your children with gifts that will stimulate their minds, don’t forget about other types of learning. Sports equipment and art supplies are other great toys that help to develop various skills in our kids. Musical instruments are another good bet. Think through the different types of skills that you’d like to encourage your children to develop, then look for fun items that will help bring about those skills.
What are some of your favorite educational (as well as fun!) gift ideas for kids?