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Best Non-Electronic Gifts for Kids

Updated on February 5, 2014

Gifts, Toys, Games & Activities for Children that Nurture a Child's Mind, Body & Spirit

Want your child to play with or to do something other than play a virtual golf game on Wii?  Or play something other than x-Box?  Or learn how to relate to people in a real face-to-face way rather than text-messaging?  Or actually be present rather than tuning-out with an iPod?

Well, the training begins at home.  And, the training begins with playing!

And who establishes the playing?  YOU!

Want help in how to do that?  You've come to the right place.

50+ Gifts for Children - All Selected by Me


Only personal highly-recommended games and activities on this Squidoo lens. All personal recommendations!

Of course, you might have to play with your child with some of these gifts, but that would be a gift in itself because it would provide you with some great long-treasured memories!

Bratz -free and Wii -free

Are you wondering about the same Bratz & Wii things I do?

Bratz - free: Do you ever wonder why parents try so hard to raise kids with good moral and ethical character, kind and loving kids, creative and productive kids . . . and then buy "Bratz" for their kids? Sometimes, I just don't get it.

Wii - free: Somewhere I keep expecting the continual reports on obesity in children and anti-depression drugs for children to be in a back-to-back news report on the increased use of Wii games. Does anyone want their kids to ever play a REAL game of baseball or golf ever again?

[If you thought that was a "soap-box," you should see the size and length of the average "soap-box" in my family!]

So, if you've ever wondered about this same stuff, you're looking in the right place for Gift ideas for your children or grandchildren!

My Favorite

Shut the Box

Okay, this is my new favorite game, "Shut the Box." Why? Because it's equally challenging and fun to play for ALL ages. It's a little luck and a little strategy - WITH THE BONUS of having kids practice addition (or multiplication or subtraction) without them even realizing it!

Oh my gosh, what could be better than that?

Well, there's more! Shut the Box is very portable and easy to play anywhere. Soooo, we take it to restaurants with us and play it while we're waiting for dinner! No more endless mantras of, "When will the food be here?" Time flies when you're beatin' your parents us in Shut the Box!

Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Shut-the-Box Game - 2 Dice
Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Shut-the-Box Game - 2 Dice

I like this version because the cover keeps the dice safe & sound inside, thus making it easy to carry to a restaurant.



Cranium Games

Want to laugh again with your family? Just play a Cranium game and the laughter will soon begin!

Cranium Family Edition
Cranium Family Edition

Cranium Family Edition is perhaps the most fun, most laughter-filled, most joy-inducing "board" game that I've ever played. We've made some great family memories with Cranium!

(Cranium Family Edition is for ages 8+, and requires at least 4 players.)


Top 5 for Age 5

Best 5 Non-Electronic Gifts for Young Children - Ages up to 5 or 6

Here are my 5 Top Picks - there are lots more choices below - but if my 3 to 6 year old got 5 gifts this year, these would be them! Also, they are the things (that along with crayons, paper, farm animals, and books), have been most loved and most used by my now older daughter.

Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set (Discontinued by manufacturer)
Play-Doh Fun Factory Deluxe Set (Discontinued by manufacturer)

Topping the list at #1 is Play-Doh. For oh so many reasons - imagination, creativity, dramatic play, motor skills, fun ... and the list goes on!

If you have an immaculate house (somehow accomplished despite children), then get a Play-Doh mat, or, get a few of them!

Also, a word about Play-Doh's competitors - I like Play-Doh brand the best, because of it's tactile qualities, anti-dryness, ease of cleaning up problems, etc.

Nothing entertains a child for hours like Play-Doh.

Nothing builds a child's creativity like Play-Doh.

Nothing helps a child work through emotions like Play-Doh.

Nothing develops a child's tactile skills like Play-Doh.

Play-Doh is an essential gift for children.

Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Peg Puzzles (Set of 3) - Numbers, Alphabet, and Colors
Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Peg Puzzles (Set of 3) - Numbers, Alphabet, and Colors

My child played with these puzzles for YEARS! And learned the alphabet and numbers while she played! Solid, wooden, colorful, good size!

Melissa & Doug Underwater Ocean Floor Puzzle (48 pcs, 2 x 3 feet)
Melissa & Doug Underwater Ocean Floor Puzzle (48 pcs, 2 x 3 feet)

Melissa & Doug make great floor puzzles! They're lots of fun for kids to do on their own, but also lots of fun and easy for parents to play on the floor with kids.

Original Memory
Original Memory

Get the Original, Toy Story, Disney Princess, or another version, but you must have the Memory game! No kid should be without it! Your child will learn and have fun all at once - and will probably beat you 100 times over!


Playing with Play-Doh

Did Your Child Play with Play-Doh?

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Science Gifts for Children

The Web is filled with gifts that try to teach children about science. There's only one problem with those gifts - kids (actually all of us) tend to resist being "taught."

BUT we do love being curious and following an interesting, intriguing journey of discover. In the end, we always learn something - but what motivates us to start the journey (or, in kids' lingo - what makes us open a box when we're "bored") - is our curiosity and a promise of fun.

These children's gifts about science offer your children the very curiosity and fun they crave! Go ahead, make your kid's day!

Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit
Snap Circuits Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit

My daughter was so excited when she connected the pieces & the power worked! Also consider kits that make radios, batteries, etc.

Scientific Explorer Disgusting Science Kit
Scientific Explorer Disgusting Science Kit

If your child thinks gross is cool, this is your science kit. Just a warning, give the gift, and step back, way back.


Bird Watching

Nature Gifts for Children - Backyard Bird Watching

Bird watching teaches math, science, reading, writing and critical thinking. Jam-packed goodness for kids! All bundled up with fun and curiosity! One of our major distractions while studying at home is watching our feathered friends visit our deck.

Birds of New Jersey Field Guide
Birds of New Jersey Field Guide

THIS is my FAVORITE bird book EVER! We've been using it for 5+ years now. The best bird watching book because it gives the basic information in a clear way that kids like. And, it's color coded (instead of alphabetical order) - so you see a bird - notice it's color 1st thing (rather than is beak size) - and flip to that color section of the book & voila!

If you don't live in New Jersey, Tekiela has a version for lots of other states.

Want to know more about Birdwatching with Kids in NJ? Go to my Squidoo page, Birdwatching with Kids: NJ Backyard Birds.



Best Gardening Gifts for Children

Kids LOVE to watch something that they planted grow! Actually, don't we all? My daughter now loves swiss chard because she helped grow it in our garden, and helped cook it with caramelized sweet onions. (Of course, now she won't go near the store-bought version!)

Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots: Gardening Together with Children

REALLY cool gardening book - it has kid-friendly suggestions about garden types and ideas for plantings. You're sure to find something you & your kids like in here!



Great Puzzle Children's Gifts

Puzzles are like books - I could recommend 100 of them. Here's one of my favorites.

Star Gazing

Best Astronomy, Solar System, Planets, Moon & Stars Gifts for Children

The unstressed spirit of youth is so connected to our Creator that they easily gaze into the Great Unknown and openly and curiously inquire about how, what and why.

Help them explore their curiosity and develop their enthusiasm for learning and at the same time ... keep them connected to our Creator!

Meade Instruments 70AZ-AR Refracting Telescope 04043 70mm Altazimuth Refractor
Meade Instruments 70AZ-AR Refracting Telescope 04043 70mm Altazimuth Refractor

Kids feel super special when they get to use real tools. Give them one that does what it's supposed to do - really works and really helps them find the constellations and planets that they're looking for!



Klutz for Girls (ages apx 6 to apx 13)

(The usual age range for these would be 7 - 12, but some 6 year-olds and some 13 year-olds still dig it!)

Chinese Jump Rope & Cat's Cradle are as necessary to 8 year old girlhood as sidewalk chalk is to 4 and 5 year-olds.

If your daughter or granddaughter doesn't have these at home, get them for her ASAP!

If you're a Dad or a Grandfather, and have absolutely no clue what these are, don't worry, just get them. Hey, they're games that don't involve boys, so, what could be better?! :)

BTW, get the Klutz brand. Klutz is EXCELLENT at making a quality product, with colorful pictures and great instructions that every kid loves.

(FYI, Chinese Jump Rope you play with 3 or more girls total, and Cat's Cradle you play with 2 or more girls total.)

Chinese Jump Rope (Klutz)
Chinese Jump Rope (Klutz)

Chinese Jump Rope is played by the rope (which is an oval) being "held" by the feet of 2 girls (one girl at each end of the oval), thus making a rectangle. And the other girl jumping and and out of the rectangle to various songs/rhymes and with various tricks.

The world is a good place when 8 year-old girls can have a good, fun time singing and jumping rope.

Cat'S Cradle Book Kit-
Cat'S Cradle Book Kit-

Cat's Cradle is a game that you do by one girl holding the string with both hands, forming a rectangle around her hands (think girl helping grandma roll yarn), and the other girl picking up and twisting the string to form different objects.

So, this is like the "rainy day miniature" version of Chinese Jump Rope.



Unforgettable Moments

Take Me Out to the Ball Game - Give the Gift of an All-American Experience

One of our favorite wedding gifts (long ago) was tickets to a Yankees game (we lived in NYC). We had a blast! Watching a ball game is an experience. When was the last time you had 4 hours with your child to just relax and talk about nothing and everything?

(I'm from Massachusetts, so the Red Sox are my team. But, if you're not from Boston, then by all means, go see a game near you!)

An Unforgettable Night with the Harlem Globetrotters

Basketball moves faster than baseball. And, the Globetrotters make you laugh. Seeing the Globetrotters with my family is one of my most memorable childhood experiences!


Chess, Chess, and Chess

Chess builds your child's logic thinking - so important in today's world where society, peer pressure and the media would prefer that we unquestioningly accept whatever they feed us! (My husband jokes that he knows when I'm sick because he wins at chess!)


Wonderful Magazines for Kids

Nurture your child's curiosity, creativity and character all year round! Here are 2 of my favorites, but if your child has a hobby or specific interest, you can find a kids' magazine that fits the bill.

Word Games

Scrabble - My Favorite

Can you use all 7 tiles on triple word score? Would your child have any idea what I'm talking about? If not, get Scrabble, creative problem solving, verbal-puzzle-making, connecting multiple ideas simultaneously ... sound like things you'd like your child to learn at school - how 'bout having him/her learn it around the kitchen table playing a game, Scrabble? Wouldn't that be great?!

Already have Scrabble? If you're missing pieces, or it's time to upgrade or time for something different.

Scrabble Deluxe Turntable Game by Hasbro Gaming
Scrabble Deluxe Turntable Game by Hasbro Gaming

Scrabble is one of my all-time favorite games. I love the whole turn-table thing that they came out with. I am dangerously close to being a Scrabble addict.

*** Now they have Scrabble branded by your favorite team!***


Boggle - My Runner-Up Favorite - It takes only 3 minutes!

(I could also add Quiddler and Bananagrams and Scattergories. )

It takes only 3 minutes to play. Who doesn't have 3 minutes to connect with a child? Almost anyone can play (probably age 10+ would find it most enjoyable though). And, don't tell the kids this, but a few of those 3-minute games put together will build a really great vocabulary!


Got 3 minutes? Then you can play Boggle with your kids. Even the score & give yourself an easy handicap (or give them one so they stop beating you!). No major game night needed for Boggle, just 3 minutes. Heck, I even enjoy playing solo (sort of like you would a Sudoku)!


Crafts - Age 7 to 13

Girls Age 7 - 13

I truly believe that girls who learn hand-crafts as children, are able to bring a skill and a gift into their adulthood that will comfort, entertain and reward them. Hand-crafts (like sewing, knitting and crocheting) are therapeutic - you can relax and sort of life's problems and unwind. Hand-crafts also connect you to other women - whose friendships are invaluable.

Creativity for Kids Quick Knit Loom – Teaches Beneficial Skills and Creativity – Easy to Use – For Ages 7 and Up
Creativity for Kids Quick Knit Loom – Teaches Beneficial Skills and Creativity – Easy to Use – For Ages 7 and Up

Teach a young girl a hand-craft, and you're teaching her stress-release, quiet-time thoughtfulness, pattern skills, concentration, and bonding with friends all in one fell swoop. What a blessing knitting and crocheting are to so many of us!




Card Games

My Current Favorite Quote

[Pass it on to your kids!]

Do What You Can,

Where You Are,

With What You Have!

- Teddy Roosevelt

Tell us in your own words!

Are these the Coolest Creative Nurturing Children's Gifts you ever saw?

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    • profile image

      KidsCancers 4 years ago

      Best gift to our kids this holiday season is a wish for their long healthy and happy lives!

    • TheresaMarkham profile image

      TheresaMarkham 4 years ago

      @blestman lm: Sharing games with kids - so true!

    • blestman lm profile image

      blestman lm 4 years ago

      Awesome lens. Thank you. Risk, Monopoly, and any game that you can share with your kids are well worth giving

    • fugeecat lm profile image

      fugeecat lm 5 years ago

      What an awesome collection of games.

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 5 years ago from Minnesota

      Yes, they are very cool. I've given several of these to my grandchildren over the years and they've loved them. I try VERY hard to not buy anything electronic! By the way, I agree....the bratz dolls are the worst dolls on the market. My opinion, of course.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image

      TheresaMarkham 5 years ago

      @JoshK47: Josh, Glad you like it! You betcha that it's great for "hand-held" to mean something other than electronic-city sometimes!

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      These are definitely some cool gifts! Gotta love breaking away from the electronic world for a while! :)

    • profile image

      PolyGlide 6 years ago

      Great share for any parent!

      PolyGlide Synthetic


    • bowfishing lm profile image

      bowfishing lm 6 years ago

      Cat's cradle takes me back to my early childhood and fond memories of my older sister. I wish more kids and parents would partake in a few of these activities and leave the TV alone. Blessed

    • profile image

      baby-strollers 6 years ago

      Well, yes, I think so!

    • AmyTK9 profile image

      AmyTK9 6 years ago

      Thank you for this lens! Lots of great ideas!

    • Harshitha LM profile image

      Harshitha LM 6 years ago

      Sorry. I meant non electronic, not electric

    • Harshitha LM profile image

      Harshitha LM 6 years ago

      Yes, they are. I love these wonderful toys. My nephew is always glued to the TV set and video games. I want him to experience the joy of wonderful non electric games. Great lens.

    • profile image

      SofiaMann 7 years ago

      Great ideas. Congratulations.

    • profile image

      poutine 7 years ago

      Excellent suggestions for non electronic games for kiddies.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image

      TheresaMarkham 7 years ago

      Great kougar! Glad this lens was helpful to you!

    • kougar lm profile image

      kougar lm 7 years ago

      Absolutely fabulous lens. I am always looking non-electronic gifts and things to do when playing with my grandkids. Thanks for taking the time to make this list/lens.

    • TheresaMarkham profile image

      TheresaMarkham 8 years ago

      Thanks Evelyn! With the fast-paced lives most of us live, we've forgotten that joy comes from laughing and working together!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 10 years ago from Royalton

      Teachers and parents who enjoy playing games and doing activities with their children will love your lens. I'm sending you some virtual Stars to add to the fun.