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Give gifts that allow children to explore and learn

Give gifts that allow children to explore and learn Give gifts that allow children to explore and learn

When shopping for holiday gifts for children, shoppers can easily be overwhelmed by the many toys, electronics, apparel and other items available for kids. Those who may not be up-to-date on the latest trends may even find shopping for kids a bit like solving a difficult puzzle.

While some shoppers may want to get kids the flashiest toy, others may prefer gifts that are both fun and mentally stimulating. Developmental toys and educational games for kids make for popular gifts.

Toy and game manufacturers continue to develop products that integrate logic, reasoning, language stimulation, and motor skill development. Shoppers looking for fun, educational toys and games for the kids on their shopping lists have a host of items to choose from.

• Building blocks: Blocks that enable children to design and construct are popular among youngsters of various ages. Blocks come in many different forms, from early education wooden blocks that fill nursery floors to the more intricate, interlocking building sets that are coveted by older children.

• STEM toys: Some of the latest trends in children’s toys veer away from regular video games and apps and cater to the rising interest in STEM. STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. Early introduction to STEM-related skills can pay dividends later in life, considering students who have an emphasis on STEM knowledge are highly coveted among employers. STEM toys may include robot-building kits, toys that help young learners test the boundaries of physics, apps that help kids learn computer programing, and even scientific experiment kits that illustrate cause and effect.

• Sensory toys: Young children can benefit from toys that stimulate the senses. Items to consider include water toys, sands (including the newer kinetic varieties), playdoughs, musical instruments, and bubbles. Even food-related toys, such as those that encourage baking or cooking, will appeal to various senses and can help kids learn valuable skills.

• Imaginative play toys: Imaginative play is an effective way to stimulate creative thinking and may help children become better learners. The Creativity Institute, specializing in toys for creative play, says playing is important to children and the way they practice growing up. According to an article that appeared in Psychology Today, “Systematic research has increasingly demonstrated a series of clear benefits of children’s engagement in pretend games from the ages of about two and one half through ages six or seven.” Dress-up toys, puppets, dolls, action figures, and toys that mimic reallife activities are all examples of products that promote imaginative play.

Educational toys can be included on holiday gifting lists. Not only will they encourage children to play and have fun, but they’ll serve as building blocks to a lifetime of learning as well.

Don’t overlook local artisans when doing your holiday gift shopping. Local artists and crafters can often provide unique gifts for those hard to shop for people on your gift list. For example this selection of intarsia pieces available at The Gift Shop in downtown Medford range from religious, to wildlife and even the fanciful.