Children are naturally curious, creative and imaginative. Why not choose gifts for them this holiday season that promote these natural, amazing characteristics? While the latest “hot” toy might be popular, it may, or may not, be the best choice for children. There are several key questions to ask when choosing gifts for children. Here are just a few:
- Is there more than one way to use this toy or material? Quite simply, if the answer is, “No,” then it is much less likely that the toy will naturally be used in an imaginative and creative manner. Look for toys that can be used in many different ways by children. This puts children in the driver’s seat and invites them to think creatively, problem-solve and express their imaginations For instance, playdough can be used in many ways to create many different things. It can also become part of a more elaborate dramatic play experience. For instance, children might choose to make “food” with playdough and then pretend to cook it on a toy stove or in a pretend oven.
- Does the toy require a lot of adult assistance to put together and use? Toys that require adults to do everything leave very little for children to do. That fancy racetrack might be fun to play with once it is put together but…if it takes 2 hours to get it to that point, what fun is that? Plus, if the track can only be put together in one way, does that really leave anything open to the imagination? Probably not.
- Does the toy promote an expression of ideas and emotions? Art materials are wonderful for achieving this goal and so are dress-up clothes. Too often, we think of both of these materials as “girl” gifts but in reality, boys are just as likely to enjoy them as girls. Think about it…what boy does not like to get his hands dirty? Finger paint is fun for everyone! Boys also enjoy dressing up and pretending just as much as girls. At one time, a superhero was flying around our house! The key is to pick items that will appeal to boys and their interests. All that takes on your part is a little questioning and observing.
Here are a few excellent choices to consider when purchasing toys and play materials for children this holiday season. Of course, make sure to check all toys for choking hazard warnings before purchasing. Toys with small parts are not appropriate for children under 3.
Blocks – any type Toy vehicles Child-safe binoculars
Play food People figures Balls – all types
Playdough or modeling clay Recorded music Art easel
Paint, markers, crayons Dress-up clothes Riding toys
Oh, and do not forget…those empty boxes that toys come in are wonderful tools for promoting creativity, imagination and fun!