I promise that this is the last gift guide of the year! Yet again I am teaming up with other kid bloggers to share our Top 10 gift choices. The category for this week was Pretend Play, and the category for the next week is Arts and Crafts, but here is the truth – my daughter is not artsy and she didn’t spend a lot of time in pretend play even when she was younger. I am happy that she is now actively participating in choosing her own gifts, even if it means fewer surprises for her. She is all about books, games, and building toys, and you can click on the links above to my other gift ideas. In this post I am going to talk about the gifts that are nourishing her other passions.
Smarty is not a child who will spend hours drawing. Actually, she is rarely inspired by an empty sheet of paper. She is more likely to draw when a “visual prompt” is given. She especially enjoys drawing if several people draw at the same time from the same visual prompt and then compare the results. This is why she likes Beautiful Doodles book from a big series of Doodles for Kids.
Our daughter always enjoyed playing with words. Last year she discovered Mad Libs. Even though she was still a reluctant writer then, she would write pages of Mad Libs and then entertain all of us reading the stories back. Mad Libs is a series, and you might find something that appeals to your child. She just got Hanukkah Mad Libs as a Hanukkah present, and we are getting her Christmas Mad Libs as part of her Nicholas’ Day gift. I am still waiting for her to start writing her own!
Many kids love cutting, pasting and painting. Smarty is not a big fan of these activities, however, she really enjoys creating with clay. This Fimo clay can be baked and hardened if desired. We read a couple of books about modeling with clay, and it’s interesting to see how her clay artwork is getting both smaller in size and more detailed. This Christmas Smarty is getting a pottery tool set to help with fine details.
A Rainbow Loom mania hit our house big time when we finally unpacked this birthday present. Smarty quickly mastered basic bracelets and then started watching Rainbow Loom YouTube channel. She learned from it how to make “fishtail” bracelets and spent most of Thanksgiving break equipping all of us with Rainbow Loom jewelry – it’s a good thing that the present came with extra packs of bands. It’s good to see her so excited and proud about making something useful from start to finish.
Smarty loves science, and we always tried to encourage her with science experiments and books. In general, I am not a big fan of science kits as I believe that most of science experiments for young kids don’t require special stuff. Still, I will write about two types of kits we have in the house.
We got this Big Bag of Science kit when Smarty was 4, and we still didn’t use all of it. In general I find substances included in this kit somewhat “gimmicky” – it’s hard to explain to a young child why they work the way they do. You also have to supervise your child closely if you want to extend the life of your kit. The best part of the kit is the plastic tubes that they could be reused later in the experiments with household materials.
We have several ScienceWhiz kits (courtesy of grandparents), and we like them more than the first kit. For once, each kit comes with a colorful book that provides a lot of details about experiments. Second, they are compact enough and still hold enough “oomph” for a couple of dozen of different experiments with most of the components available for reuse. Some of the pieces could be of better quality, but overall I am satisfied with value for money spent.
One of the best gifts that you can give to a young curious mind is new experiences. We do our best to travel and to visit museums, performances and state parks. As a gift for Smarty’s birthday we got a membership in her favorite science museum – Exploratorium in San Francisco. If at all possible, consider giving your own Smarty an “experience gift”.
Gifts for Imagination
As I said, our daughter doesn’t play pretend much. Perhaps it’s a plight of an only child who needs a playmate with the same imagination, but even during playdates she doesn’t like to play with dolls or have pretend tea parties. There are things, however, that get a lot of use.
As a proper German child (my daughter even has a German passport), she has a lot of Playmobil – mostly presents from her German side of the family. Her favorite Playmobil set is this Puppet Theater that arrived as a gift when she was only three. We put it away then, but she is getting into stop motion animation now, and this theater is perfect for setting up her own stories. I expect it to get a lot of use next year.
We had a similar (somewhat simpler) doctor kit from Learning Resources since daughter was 2 years old, and it still sees a lot of use. Smarty enjoys playing both a doctor and a patient, and lately added a writing pad to her kit to mark her observations and write prescriptions.
Smarty calls herself a “boyish girl”. She likes playing with boys, and loves climbing the trees with our neighbor. She also loves playing with his arsenal of Nerf guns. She has her own, but it’s a single shooter. When she had to choose her own birthday present because one of her classmates (or, rather, his parents) gave her an Amazon gift card, she looked at many options and finally opted for this Air Hunter Z-Curve Bow. The reviews on Amazon were positive, and I am looking forward to “hunting” with her.
Want More Amazing Gift Ideas?
I am giving away this ScienceWhiz Chemistry kit to one lucky winner
This giveaway is open to US and Canada residence, and will close on December 15. The winner will be notified by their entry email on December 15, after she/he is confirmed as entering correctly. The winner has 48 hours to respond to my email before another winner is selected.a Rafflecopter giveaway