The following is a guest post by Joyce Wilson of TeacherSpark.org. Visit her blog for more great articles and teaching ideas!
Many children spend a lot of time playing video games and watching television these days, and it can be a real challenge to get them interested in anything else. We don’t want them to be bored, but it is natural to want to give gifts that move them away from screens, since as ParentMap notes, too much use can be bad for them. Luckily, many educational gifts that are reasonably priced are easy to find. Here are some simple, budget-friendly suggestions courtesy of Grammarai Warrior.
Encourage Artistic Expression
Encouraging children to express themselves artistically has many emotional benefits and it doesn’t cost a lot of money to foster their natural talents. Art supplies like acrylic paint, brushes and a canvas or two make an excellent gift combination for youngsters. Other good options include modeling clay, charcoal pencils, watercolors, and calligraphy sets. Even simple coloring books and crayons can offer hours of creative fun.
Music is another form of artistic expression that can draw a child away from the lure of screens. Although a new musical instrument can be a big investment, a used one can be purchased from online sites like eBay or Etsy. As an example, a keyboard is relatively easy to learn and is a good way for a child to start making music. Be sure to throw in a book of easy-to-master songs and a pair of noise-canceling headphones to round out the gift.
Children love watching things grow and learning how substances react. A biology lab kit can be assembled by buying seeds, growing medium, and a few pots. Try to choose plants that grow relatively quickly like marigolds or beans so the whole operation won’t be abandoned. If your child is hooked on science, chemistry sets provide hours of interesting activity for children while teaching them about experimentation. Select one that is age-appropriate and meets your price point.
Another inexpensive hands-on learning toy is a set of building blocks like Legos and other creative construction toys. Parenting Science points out there is ample evidence that construction play encourages problem-solving as well as language, spatial, and motor skills. You can start with a simple set that can be added on to as the child’s ability to build expands. And you might be surprised to learn that if you visit Lego’s website, you can often find sales on their products.
For the Bookworms
Books never go out of style. Consider popular nonfiction titles or even a series of books. Many bookstores, whether online or not, have members’ clubs that offer discounts and special rates.
Also, consider shopping second-hand bookstores for first-edition classic titles or gently used selections. If you have an e-reader, download some freebies. With endless options on every topic imaginable, books are the perfect way to expand your child’s horizons and help them learn.
Family and Social Interactions
Meaningful interactions with family and friends are the best way to get children interested in leaving the world of their screens behind. Consider games and puzzles to brighten your child’s day, enjoy more family time, and, of course, keep them off the electronics.
Puzzles are both fun and challenging mental exercise and can be a super low-cost gift. A jigsaw puzzle of the world, for instance, is an excellent gift for helping kids to learn geography. Several puzzle books like crossword and word search are also a good choice. Finally, board games can teach a variety of skills like counting, spelling and even real estate.
Another activity you can do with your kids is to teach them about the practical skills you demonstrate at home everyday. You can talk to them about doing things with you around the house. You can ask them to help you cook lunch, tend to the garden, or wash the car. If they’re interested you can check different websites, and look at some project that you can do together.
Deciding on a screen-less gift for your child doesn’t have to be a difficult or impossible decision. Children love learning, creating and moving, so all of these options should provide a great first step. Don’t be afraid to get creative, and don’t forget to take advantage of online opportunities to help you save money.
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