Black Friday ads were full of items mostly related to movies, television, and the like. Many of these toys are long on commercial appeal but fall woefully short on promoting the development of imagination, creativity, problem solving, critical thinking and motor skills!
Below are a few suggestions for children’s gifts that can provide long lasting fun and interest but also promote development:
1. Puzzles – Putting puzzles together is fun and should be a challenge, though not beyond what the child can do with a little adult facilitation. Puzzles help develop small motor muscles, eye-hand coordination, visual discrimination, and spatial reasoning.
2. Non-electronic games – Think of the ones you (and your parents!) played, like Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Bingo, Trouble, Sorry, Connect Four, Old Maid, Crazy Eights, and Memory. Playing board and card games develops interpersonal skills and teaches children to share, take turns, and to be good winners and losers (sportsmanship). Many of the games also promote the development of cognitive skills as they involve matching, memory, counting, numeral and/or letter recognition and more.
3. Manipulatives such as blocks and other building materials – There are so many from which to choose! These materials promote creativity and imagination as well as develop small motor skills, eye/hand coordination and an understanding of weight, balance and symmetry. FYI, Magnatiles (or similar) are by far the favorite manipulative of the children in the Shorecrest Junior Kindergarten this year!
4. Arts and Craft materials – Include pads of blank paper, crayons, markers, pens and pencils, paint, brushes and sponges, finger paint and shaving cream, chalk (large and small), clay and play dough, and scissors and glue. Set up an art area for your child and include recycled containers and objects like buttons and old jewelry. Add some old magazines and catalogs. All of these things will entice your children to use their imaginations and come up with lots of creative ideas. They will also help strengthen the arm, hand and finger muscles they will need to write comfortably and successfully for handwriting in the coming and future years.
5. Books, books, and more books – Look for quality literature, rather than stories related to commercial toys. Base your choices on story content and illustrations as well as subject. Don’t forget, too, that children love non-fiction books about subjects of interest to them; there are many such books available on their level!
Remember, sometimes the boxes provide more fun than what came in them!
This is a post from the Head of The Experiential School of Tampa Bay, one of the best private preschools in Pinellas County. To learn more about the 3, 4, and 5-year-old program at Shorecrest, we invite you to schedule a personal tour.