Gift Ideas for Young Children

Creativity at Christmas: Gift ideas for Young Children (UPDATED)

Below are some of the items on our Amazon list. I doubt Santa will be able to bring everything, in fact somehow I know for sure that he won’t, but having a big selection can help out come birthday time.

See Also: Making Christmas Cards: Lessons Learned

The DadsforCreativity Christmas List

Our Christmas list will ignite wonder, creativity, and the imagination

NEW ADDITIONS

K’NEX Hyperspeed Hangtime Roller Coaster – $30-75
K’NEX has a variety of sets that will engage creative thinking skills during their setup. This particular kit challenges the little ones to create a Hyperspeed Hangtime Roller Coaster, and comes with a blaster motor that sends cars flying through twists and turns while hanging upside down! See K’Nex

Sphero BB-8 Droid – $149
There’s a few different toy robots making their first Christmas appearance. Some are sold out, but lucky for us the Sphero BB-8 Droid is still available. These toys are designed to introduce children to computer programming, and might be a little too much for the younger children to play on their own (but I’m sure Daddy will love playing with them). Most also work along side a mobile app, so you need to consider this before making the purchase. See BB-8


OSMO – $99
The OSMO game system works in conjunction with an iPad, and offers apps that foster creative thinking by bridging the real and digital realms. The game system includes all OSMO offerings, including puzzles and activities that engage young children in drawing, problem-solving, and critical thinking. Visit Osmo

A puzzle solving game is one of the offerings in the OSMO Game System
The OSMO system comes with a little camera that follows the child’s progress through the activity.

Tiggly $20-$30
Like OSMO, Tiggly works in conjunction with the iPad, providing shapes that children use to engage in the interactive experiences offered through the Tiggly apps. Tiggly targets young children, and is helpful in introducing them to the interactive nature of mobile devices while also introducing them to shapes and form. Visit Tiggly

Snap Circuit Jr. SC-100 Electronics Discovery Kit – $30
There are a few electronic discovery kits on the market at the moment. This one doesn’t brake the bank and it’s 30 components allow children to create 101 different electronic projects. The pieces include snap wires, slide switches, an alarm circuit, a music integrated circuit, and a speaker, that all easily snap together on a plastic grid. Visit Snap Circuit

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Lego Motorized Mechanisms Base Set – $160
It wouldn’t be a Christmas without some Lego under the tree. Any boxset will offer an opportunity to engage Creativity, but the education sets with power supply allow young children to investigate motorized machines, calibrate and capture wind, and study gearing mechanisms. Visit Lego Education

Makey Makey – $49
Makey Makey turns the whole world into a keyboard. It’s a simple invention kit that allows young children to tinker with simple electronics and computer programing. One of it’s most known images shows some banana’s serving as a controller for a computer game.Visit Makey Makey

LittleBits Electronics Base Kit – $99 (NOW $69 on Amazon!)
LittleBits has been gaining traction as part of the Maker Movement, where educators looks to integrate tools that allow children to create and make. Like the Snap Circuit it introduces the basics of electronics with a set of tools that easily snap together, but LittleBits connect via magnets and come with a little more freedom to explore and play. Visit LittleBits

Magnetic Tiles – $50 – $100
When I reflect on the toys that Arthur has played with most it, his magnetic tiles are high up on the list. He’s built nearly everything imaginable over the years and now his younger brother is getting involved. It’s time to add to the set! See Magnetic Tiles

The magnetic tiles have been one of the most popular toys in our household and find their way into a variety of different games and imaginary worlds.
The magnetic tiles have been one of the most popular toys in our household and find their way into a variety of different games and imaginary worlds.

MindWare KEVA Contraptions Playset $45
All young children like to create and make. Most seem fascinated with cause and effect, and usually enjoy initiating some type of chain reaction. I haven’t got a lot of experience with the KEVA blocks, but this particular set has got my interest with it’s 200 wooden planks, ramps, and paths that are used to create some type of contraption. I heavily suspect this will be one of the items making its way down the chimney come Christmas Eve.

Stay tuned to this page as I’ll be updating my list as we get closer to the big day.


 

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Making Christmas Cards

Creativity at Christmas: Making Christmas Cards – My lessons learned

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I absolutely love the Holidays and consider it my duty to make it a magical experience for my two boys. At first merging family traditions with my wife was sometimes a challenge, but for the most part it’s been a fun experience and we’ve now been able to choose the best of both worlds, and more importantly establish some of our own along the way.

SEE ALSO: Five ways to engage Creativity at Christmas

One of my new favorites (which started last year) is the painting of a ‘festive’ picture for our family Christmas card, which also provides an opportunity for Creativity because it involves children in the making of a new and useful product that will be shared with friends and family.

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The picture for last year’s Christmas card. It shows our tree and fireplace.

Last year Arthur was three years old so I took the lead in sketching the picture with a pencil and gave him direction color selection and areas to paint. With the Christmas tunes playing in the background it was an enjoyable and extremely festive experience. I was pleased with the final outcome and wanted this year to be an even better experience, with Arthur taking more of a lead in the creation of the picture. However, because I wanted it better than last year, I unintentionally limited some of the opportunities for creativity because I had a predetermined vision of what the card should look like. This differed the experience from the spontaneity and ambiguity that existed last year.

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‘No let me do it’… Arthur said as I began to take the lead in sketching out the picture. Reluctantly I gave in, but told him to sketch the Christmas tree like a big triangle. He followed these instructions and the sketch wasn’t too bad. He then added some presents under the tree (all his he said), and an angel at the very top. Things had started off reasonably well, and he did a good job painting the tree with the green paint I had mixed. Feeling a little more confident I decided to offer suggestions as opposed to specific direction – this was when things started to go a little pear shaped. He took a BIG paintbrush and attempted to add some round ornaments, but the first was almost as big as the top of the tree. I showed him a little technique with the end of a pencil, which went ok at first, but then he got bored and wanted to paint snowflakes – WITH RED PAINT!!! No I said – Snowflakes aren’t Red. He said he liked the red, so I suggested he paint the presents red – he seemed ‘ok’ with this suggestion, but shortly afterwards realized we forgot the fireplace (which was in last year’s picture).

One of the few times Arthur was engaged. This year wasn't the fun and magical experience I remember from last year.
One of the few times Arthur was engaged. You can see how we had to add a second piece of paper to accommodate the fireplace.

‘Arthur we don’t need a fireplace in the picture this year, we can just have our tree’… ‘No we ‘need’ the fireplace’ he said. This was where I started to feel a little torn – I recognized that I wasn’t providing the type of freedom that he wanted, but at the same time I had my desire to produce a different and better picture from last year. My wants began to negatively impact the activity, and reluctantly I added an additional sheet of paper so Arthur could add the fireplace.

I forget to mention there was an additional element as well – Little Raymond, now 19 months caused a little more of a problem this year. By the time I had returned with the additional paper he was much covered in paint and I had to strip him down. This obviously changed the experience for me and I became tense and felt the pressure of time. Now having to distract Raymond, meant Arthur had less ‘suggestion’ and he had grabbed the BIG paintbrush again and started painting the flames for the fireplace – BIG FLAMES – bigger than the tree. Once finished he said ‘Daddy I’m done’ and walked away. I tried to get him back in engaged, but I knew that my input and direction had killed the activity and probably his creativity – I finished the card alone. Lessons Learned.

Man what a difference a year can make!

How to Make a Family Christmas Card

  1. Paint or draw the picture*
  2. Capture and crop finished picture using your smart phone
  3. Visit online printing company (I use Vista Print)
  4. Select a customized card option that best fits the size of your picture*
  5. Upload image and be sure to preview sample
  6. Confirm order

*it’s advisable to know in advance what size card you’re making the picture for


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Choosing Presents that Promote Creativity at Christmas

Santa… Claus… is coming to town! And this means lots of Christmas shopping for parents. My boys haven’t got to the age where they can identify a list of wants and send these off to Santa – and this means their choice of presents is mine to make!   So, what gifts can we buy that will create magic on Christmas morning, but also provide opportunities to nurture and cultivate creativity at home.

Below is a list of five items that I believe can be used to cultivate skills in creativity.

  • The Olloclip can be found on Amazon. It’s basically a micro lens that clips on to your smartphone and lets you take really, really close up pictures. Come Spring you can take your kids on nature walks and grab all sorts of images that will stimulate curiosity and provide a whole new perspective to the tiny world that lives under our feet.
  • My boys are a little to young for this gift but the Makey Makey – An Invention Kit, has got ‘Maker’, ‘Wow Factor’ and a verity of problem-solving skills written all over it. I confess I haven’t checked it out but have identified it for Christmas 2016. I’ve seen people turn bananas into remote controllers for video games.
  • Legos – this stuff doesn’t need an introduction, I just encourage you to be cautious when purchasing ‘branded’ based playsets.. There’s certainly a place for our little ones to reenact the stories they see in the movies, but we don’t want them to be confined to the characters in these worlds. Instead we want them to create their own characters for their own worlds. Apart from that I really don’t think it matters what Lego you purchase. Some kids will probably play, others will build, but whatever happens Legos make create ‘Makers’. I don’t plan to spend this kind of money on Lego, but for educators the story starter kits from Lego Education are worth exploring.

 

  • Science Kits/Telescopes/Ant Farms, anything that stimulates wonder and curiosity for the world around us. I’ll be keeping it simple and purchasing a magnet set. These types of activities will work best with parent participation, who can facilitate questions and arise curiosity.
  • Games should really have their own section. Most games are renown for their problem-solving skills. There’s certainly little debate on the learning that takes place in game. The discussion is usually on whether this learning translates into the real world. Personally I feel that probably varies from game to game. Just to clarify, traditional board games are just as important as digital games. Personally I’m not in a rush to introduce Lucas to video games so I’ll be keeping to simple things like Connect4 – Remember not to give it away – let the little ones try and problem-solving how to win the game.

This is only my third Christmas as a Dad so I’m still learning on what to buy. Generally speaking, play is a creative act so you can’t really go wrong. I’d just suggest that you try and vary the types of toys in order to stimulate a wide variety of creativity skills.

Happy Holidays!

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Creativity Chit-Chat: 5 ways to engage Creativity at Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! I absolutely love the Holidays and consider it my duty to make it a magical experience for my boys. Merging family traditions with my wife can occasionally be challenging, but for the most part extremely fun because you get to choose best of both worlds.

Not only can Christmas become a magical experience, but it can also be one full of creativity and imagination. As my eldest is only celebrating his third, and my youngest his first, we’re still building on our annual endeavors but I’ve been making efforts to integrate activities that cultivate creative thinking:
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  1. Making the front cover of our family Christmas card; this was new for this year and turned out to be an enjoyable experience. It’s basically an art project, but because the drawing will be uploaded as the front cover of our card it has added value and purpose. I didn’t challenge the imagination too much this year but anticipate we’ll try and introduce some storytelling elements in the future. They’re currently in the post but I’m looking forward to showing him so that he can make the connection that he’s a ‘Maker’.
  2. Writing a letter to Santa; this should go beyond the writing of a list of presents, which I’ve been told by many parents helps install the ‘I want…’ attitude in later years. Instead this year we wrote a letter telling Santa we’ll be in London, England and will leave him a Mince Pie this year as opposed to a cookie. However, I think that this is another opportunity to tell a story, draw a picture, or write a story to Santa.
  3. Choosing Christmas presents that cultivate creative thinking; I’m going to write another article with some gift ideas that I’ve identified as being particularly helpful when trying to cultivate creative thinking in our little ones. For now I would just say that all children should open gifts that engage the imagination, use fantasy, and have some elements of making, problem-solving, or stimulating curiosity and wonder.
  4. Making, Making, and Making; The Maker Movement has renewed in purpose and energy since the birth of the World Wide Web and other digital technologies. For children below five, making a Ginger Bread House, decorations for the tree or doing some cooking all encourage kids to make and engage in problem-solving. For older children I’m getting particularly intrigued by 3D Printing and plan in the future to make presents for my boys using a 3D application like Blender, or to take my boys down to a 3D printing shop such as the Maker Bot store in Greenwich, CT and have them make decorations or stocking fillers. I’m really excited to see how this one develops and hopefully will be writing bout it this time next year.

    A 3D printer has just begun to print a toy plane for my eldest.
    A 3D printer has just begun to print a toy plane for my eldest.
  5. Make a Christmas Story; this is still in development. I’m hoping to identify time over the next ten days before we jet off to the UK to make a book. I’m still not sure if we’ll make an eBook using Apple Author, or if it will just be made up of pictures and published via iPhone, but I’m going to work with Lucas to create a story of Christmas, and obviously as we get a little older I hope the stories will capture some of the values that we hold so dearly during this time of the year.

Please feel free to share how you plan on cultivating creativity this Christmas. I’m only three years into being a Daddy at this time of the year so am looking for lots more suggestions.


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Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance. is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. To gain FREE access, simply comment below and we’ll follow up with a link and password.

 

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