It is the gift giving season! What gifts can you give a child to ignite learning?
I have found with my children that the right toys inspire learning. So together, with other Kent ISD consultants and parents, I have populated a list of educational gifts that we have seen engage our children and students.
I have categorized the ideas, but many of these really could fit into more than one category. I encourage you to read through each list. Please share with other educators and parents!
- Spirograph– The classic geometric drawing toy creates mathematical curves that are a lot of fun to make.
- Arts and Crafts– You can easily go to the dollar store and create a simple gift that your children will love.
- Zentangle Books– Never heard of Zentangling? It is an easy to learn method of drawing using repetitive patterns. Many people find it relaxing. It also helps with creativity and focus.
- Perler Bead Kits– My children spend hours creating designs, patterns and characters with these little beads. They use math and creativity to design. And my iron has never seen so much usage.
Family game night can be a much richer experience with the following games. These games can develop strategy, geography, literacy, math, etc. Some of these games can be played with as little as one person, making them great for long car rides too.
- Bananagrams, Appletters, Word-A-Melon, or Pairsinpears
- Mobi-Numerical Tile Game in a Whale Pouch
- Rush Hour
- Monopoly and Monopoly Deal (can be played in under 20 minutes)
- Stratego or Risk
- Gravity Maze Game
- Crossword Puzzles
- Word or Picture Searches
- Zingo (Reading or Math Versions)
- Shut the Box
- Even Steven’s Odd
- Ticket to Ride
- The Settlers of Catan
- Apples to Apples Jr.
- Games for Math by Love: Prime Climb and Tiny Polka Dot
- Amazon Echo Dot (27 Best Alexa Games to Keep You Entertained)
Do you know a child that is interested in Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics? These toys will give them hours of education and fun.
- Snap Circuits or Little Bits
- Sphero Mini Robot
- Micro:bit Basic Starter Kit
- Kiwi Crates – hands on science and art projects delivered monthly
- Magic School Bus Engineering Lab –hands on building
- Osmo (there is even a coding game)
- Gravity Maze
- KOOME Coding Board Game: On The Brink
- Think Fun Roller Coaster
Reading and writing is so important in all aspects of education. I have been amazed at how much both my children love simple items such as a notepad and colorful pens. They let their creativity take over.
- Bob Books are great for beginning readers
- How Many? By Christopher Danielson (Math)
- Which One Doesn’t Belong? by Christopher Danielson (Math)
- A Hundred Trillion Billion Stars by Seth Fishman (STEM)
- Journal or Diary and fun pens and pencils
- Magazine Subscriptions: Ask, Click, Ranger Rick, Spider, Lego Magazine (FREE), Owl, Dig, Muse, Cobblestone (History), National Geographic Little Kid, beanz (Kids Code and Computer Science) Magazine, ChopChop, Sports Illustrated for Kids, etc
- Any Books! Just getting books into the hands of a child is so important. Don’t miss the Scholastic Book Sale going on from December 5 – December 15th
- Audible Subscription
- Mad Libs
- Gift Cards to a bookstore
Fresh air and sunshine is always good for the body and soul. So try these gifts to encourage your children and students to get outside and enjoy nature.
- Sidewalk Chalk
- Gardening Kits
- Bug Kits
- Exploration tools (i.e. compass, flashlight)
- Solar Balloon
- Chinese Jump Rope
“Actually the best gift you could have given her was a lifetime of adventures.” Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
This quote is true, sometimes the best gifts are not toys and games but experiences. Here is a list of some great local places that would make incredible learning experiences for families to share. Plus, many of these places have summer camps, which would make a great gift too.
- GR Museum
- GR Ford Museum
- Escape Room
- Painting Classes
- Gym Membership (YMCA, Kroc Center, MVP Sports Complex, etc. )
- Children’s Museum
- Fredrick Meijer Gardens
- Michigan Sea Life Aquarium
- Veen Observatory
- John Ball Zoo
- Air Zoo
- Binder Park Zoo
- Boulder Ridge Zoo
- Impressions 5 Museum
- Howard Christensen Nature Center
- Blandford Nature Center
- The Critter Barn
- Grand Rapids Ballet
- Civic Theater
- Deer Tracks Junction
- Ice Skating at Rosa Parks Circle
Do you have other ideas for educational gifts that you do not see on this list? Please share your ideas in the comments below. Enjoy your gift giving!