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