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Worthwhile Toys, And Other Gifts, For Children Of All Ages

Updated on May 4, 2012

When we look for gifts for children, we often look for gifts that are just plain fun. There is nothing wrong with just plain fun, but children learn a great deal from the toys they are given, so it may be wise to give toys a bit more thought. I have listed five types of toys that I feel serve a purpose beyond plain entertainment. Here they are.

1. You cannot go wrong with toys that encourage children to become more active. With obesity becoming epidemic throughout many parts of the world, encouraging activity is a parent's duty. For infants and very young children, brightly colored balls are a must. They should be soft enough to be picked up easily, and interesting enough to encourage reaching, crawling after, or chasing. Next come the push and pull toys, with bells and whistles attached. Then come all the more sporting 'toys', balls associated with sports, along with ice skates, roller skates, skate boards, trikes, bikes, skis, etc. There is at least one activity-inducing toy that would appeal to even the most sedentary child.

2. Books are essential to a child's future welfare. If a child can read well, there is literally nothing they cannot learn. If you are unsure what type of books to choose, ask your librarian or the child's teacher. You can start to read to children when they are only a few months old. Nursery rhymes are best for infants. The sound of your voice along, with rhyme and repetition, is appealing to very young children. You can read as long as the child does not become restless, or at least is not squirming to get away. With toddlers, you want to engage them in the process, so choose books with lots of pictures, that you can talk about together. Point out small details and, talk about what just happened or might happen next. Read to young children every day, Make sure they have a small library of their own, made up of old favorites and new adventures. Many children who can read quite well themselves, still like to be read to, so continue reading to your children as long as they enjoy it.

3. Craft sets and building toys encourage children to be creative, and improve manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination. Make sure you can buy add-ons for these sets, such as more building blocks, more beads, clay, etc. Sets that only make one thing are dead-end toys. For very young children, avoid sets that have very small or sharp parts.

Other toys that encourage creativity are things like crayons, pencil crayons, paints, chalk, colored paper, scissors, and rolls of newsprint.(you can often buy small end rolls from local newspapers). Go for quality over quantity, especially for items like crayons and pencil crayons. Let children use these items on their own. If you want to encourage creativity, do not suggest things to paint or draw, and do not point out the lack of eyes or the placement of limbs. Let them be proud of their scribbles.

4. Puzzles are enjoyed by most children. Start off with large wooden puzzles for small children and then advance to more adult jig-saw puzzles. Make them of a challenging but not discouraging size. Jig-saws teach shape and color discrimination, eye-hand coordination, and patience. Books of word and number puzzles may not seem initially exciting, but some children love them. Good quality puzzles can teach problem solving and mathematical skills, as well as improving memory.

5. Board games are a great way for the family to come together. The games should be geared to the age of the child. Many games are a waste of time and money, so,if you are unsure what is suitable, ask your child's teacher or an informed salesperson in a 'good' toy store. Board games can teach children to take turns, to be gracious winners and good losers(its up to you to set an example here - and yes, you can win sometimes, but not always). Board games can also teach counting, manual dexterity, and eye-hand coordination. Games for older children can improve spelling, and increase language skills.

Here are two, non-toy gifts, that I think are great for children.

A. Lessons. These could be music lessons, skating lessons, dancing lessons, golf lessons, cooking lessons, swimming lessons, skiing lessons, or literally anything that you know the child has an interest in learning.

B. Tickets to games, concerts or events that the child enjoys. For younger children these would include the whole family, but for responsible teenagers, they could include a relative or friend.

I hope you have found some of these ideas useful.


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    • billips profile imageAUTHOR

      billips 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Hello sparrowlet - I appreciate that you took the time to read my hub, and also make a comment. - B.

    • Sparrowlet profile image

      Katharine L Sparrow 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Very useful hub, I'll come back to it at Christmas time!

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR

      billips 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Hello Vendetta - so glad you found the hub useful - thank you for reading and commenting - regards - B.

    • VendettaVixen profile image

      VendettaVixen 

      6 years ago from Ireland

      Thank you very much for the great gift ideas. It's my godson's birthday soon, and I wasn't sure what to get him. You've given me lots to think about, though.

    • profile image

      Derdriu 

      6 years ago

      Billips, What a helpful, practical, useful summary of Christmas gifts which fill the lives of children of all ages with meaning! In particular, you do a great job of listing gifts which appeal to imagination and practicality, such as crafts, music lessons and puzzles. Additionally, I like your emphasis on sound mind, sound body.

      Thank you for sharing,

      Derdriu

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR

      billips 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      You have very lucky grandkids - there's more to life that store-bought toys and dizzying rides - thanks for your kind, and pretty on-the-mark, comments - B.

    • anndavis25 profile image

      anndavis25 

      6 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      You sound like a grandmother, or teacher, or both. I'm a the queen of thinking up things to do with and for my grandkids. They had rather come here than to go to Disney World....maybe I exaggerate a little.

      Great hub. Up Interesting awesome

    • billips profile imageAUTHOR

      billips 

      6 years ago from Central Texas

      Hi Canada - thank you for you replying at such length - the geographical puzzles are great - I remember having one as a child - curiosity got the better of me and I found out by 'googling' that they are still available - of Canada, of the United States, and even one of both (that's unity for you) - not cheap but then they are useful and reusable - I agree that most toy stores sell predominantly junk - it does take both time and thought to find appropriate gifts - I like the idea of special wrap with special messages - gives added meaning to the season - take care up there in my native home - Happy Christmas to you and yours - B.

    • Timothy Donnelly profile image

      Timothy Donnelly 

      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      billips, great hub for those that draw a blank when trying to choose something appropriate for a gift; rated UP!

      You do mention the purchase of puzzles for gifts, and I think this is a great idea, especially if they are of the sort that one might use more than once or twice (or perhaps display upon completion). One example my Mom came up with is purchasing a puzzle of a MAP of Canada for the young grandchildren. This way, they can actually learn more than the important things you suggest, such as patience; they can also lean the geography, highways and even a little of the politics of their nation. Also, their Dad is a long-haul trucker, so they may grow an appreciation of what he does in order to support his family.

      UNFORTUNATELY, NOBODY seems to sell these items, to our astonishment! All of the stores - even the ones that specialize in childrens’ toys - only seem to sell gadgets, frilly stuff, and money-makers, most of them manufactured far, far away. Sure they have some nice stuff, but most of it is “disposable”, except for a few of the games that may be brought out of the cupboard from time to time. Because a lot of the stuff is disposable, one may find some great “hardly used” gifts in second-hand stores - just try and stay away from the stuff that is unsafe or contaminated.

      This of course, leads me to also suggest that people put some real thought into their purchases and avoid the throw-away expense of last-minute silly purchases or ostensible gift-giving that places the benefactor in unnecessary debt.

      Finally, I think that special gift-wrapping goes a long way to the excitement of receiving a gift for the youngsters. A little jingle or a card that must first be read before the child may open the gift is also worth considering. The message can remind them that they are each a precious, loved and special person and family member, and that the reason for Christmas is the anniversary and celebration of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, the Son of our Heavenly Father. Little children LOVE to hear that they have a real Father in Heaven who created them for a purpose, and that we, as parents and family members, are the ones who hold the responsibility of teaching them of His messages for us, including exemplifying the blessing of prayer, which is a promised channel for us to communicate with Him in real-time! Merry Christmas!!!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 

      6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for all the great ideas for great Christmas gifts for kids.

      Vote up !!!

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 

      6 years ago from Neverland

      These are all great ideas. I love that you even included some ideas that wont take up space in the house like lessons and outings :)

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