I love the holiday season, price but one part that I dread is the numerous little cluttery toys that the children get this time of year from friends and family. I am happy that people love giving my children gifts, but we live in a small house. Every new toy that comes in displaces another. This makes holiday season hard on my kids because they are often forced to get rid of old toys to make room for the new.
I know a lot of families go through this each year, which is why when I give gifts, I try to choose something that isn’t just another piece of clutter and that has more purpose. I’ve found that educational gifts are some of the best for this because not only do they not take up as much space, but they also provide real value to the child.
So, here are some of my favorite last minute educational gifts for homeschooled kids (or any other kid for that matter).
Now that Monkey is 8 1/2, she is starting to outgrow toys. However, she still likes engaging in fun activities. Art activities are some of her favorite. She loves art in all mediums. Christmas is a great time to find new art mediums for kids to try. In my experience, both boys and girls love art of some kind or another! You might try some of these:
When I was a child, some of my favorite gifts were magazines. At one time or another, we had a subscription to LEGO, National Geographic Kids, Family Fun, and Highlights. One year, I bought Monkey a subscription to Zoo Books, which she loved. I like to choose magazines that are educational in nature, but most magazines for children have at least a few educational activities. Another amazing benefit to a magazine subscription is that you can literally wait up until the last-minute to purchase it through Amazon.
Computer Games or Apps
Monkey loves playing computer games and apps. I love them because they do not take up space. I like to find games that provide some educational value, but I don’t necessarily stick to the educational genre. I look for games that boost reading or typing skills, puzzle solving, reflexes, strategy, or creative thinking. Games take up even less space when you download a digital copy. We like to purchase games from Steam for computer games and we often download games directly from our video game console. However, you can’t always find the current games that way.
Some of my favorite non-education genre educational games are:
- Long Live the Queen
- Sim City
- Rollercoaster Tycoon (just skip 3 because it is terrible)
- League of Legends
Now that we have two children, the toys are adding up even faster. I’m sure the more children you add the worse this problem gets. This is why we love build-upon toys. These are simply base units that you can add to over time without having to create an entirely new storage location for that item. Some of our favorite build-upon sets include:
- Kitchen supplies
- Little People, Playmobil, or Polly Pocket-style toys
- Marble runs
- Plastic animals
When I see toys like a play washing machine, I sort of chuckle to myself. I figure, if your child is interested in sorting laundry, why not have them actually help you sort the real laundry? I like to engage children with real-life tools as much as possible. Anything to foster creativity and the use of real-life skills are fine by me! You can make these gifts more fun by creating kits or bundles of several tools together. Here are some tool ideas to spark your creativity:
- Kitchen tools and cookbook
- Small hand tools and some scrap wood
- Crochet supplies
- Gardening tools or lawn care supplies
- Candle making supplies
- Small cleaning utensils for child-sized hands (you could cut a broom to a smaller size, for example)
- Car washing kit
- Science kits
You can’t go wrong with a gift of books! However, if your children don’t jump at the chance to read everything (so far none of my kids do), you may have to hunt a little harder to find what will spark their interest. Typically, children love action and adventure. However, my daughter Monkey actually prefers non-fiction books. So, use the preferences of the children in your house when selecting books.