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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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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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


CE_FREEMOVIEV3COMMENT BELOW for FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

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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MobileApps_Cyber-Monday

CYBER MONDAY: What Mobile Apps should parents look out for this weekend?

    CYBER MONDAY DEALS (FALL 2015)

Usually Saturday’s is devoted to a 3 Question Interview, where we get to hear ideas from subject matter experts on Creativity or creative activities. However, this Monday is CYBER MONDAY, which means there’s an opportunity for us to grab some new mobile apps at discounted prices. Sadly, it’s impossible to know what apps will go on sale come Monday, but I’m going to share some of my more recent favorites, as well as three from a previous 3 Question Interview with award winning educator Jonathan Nalder.

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Now as I’ve referenced in the past, most toddlers will begin to develop an interest in mobile devices by observing their parents with the technology, but there are some specific apps that offer the type of interactivity that can enhance the experience for our young ones.

SEE ALSO: Introductory Apps for Toddlers

This CYBER MONDAY look out for apps produced by WonderKid, and as of today Tiny Farm – Animals, Tractors, and Adventures, is currently available for FREE. Other Toddler apps to look out for are Baby Musical Hands and Toddler Cars.

For preschool, the selection expands considerably and parents should identify apps that fit their child’s interest and creativity. My new favorite, The Earth by Tinybop is right now discounted at 75% off, and another preschooler app to checkout this weekend is LaunchPad.

Here are 3 others suggested by award winning educator Jonathan Nalder as part of a DadsforCreativity 3 Question Interview on Mobile Apps for Childhood Creativity.

 

DFC

We’ve received requests on what mobile apps are best for young children? What are your three mobile apps for creativity at home or in the classroom?

Minecraft – is far and away one of the most popular apps for 4-10 year olds – because it lets them use their imagination and challenges them to constantly problem solve. Only caution is to manage access to the ‘survival mode’ for younger children as it introduces gameplay elements such as dying, zombies and other such elements.

MyPlayhome – is now a series of apps that allow kids to act out home, shopping and school/ kindy environments. A great one for them to experiment with different situations and to explore the interactive rooms on offer.

PuppetPals – a super simple app for creating animated videos that records a child’s voice and on-screen movements of puppet characters (which can include their own face) to introduce them to digital storytelling.


CE_FREEMOVIEV3COMMENT BELOW for FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

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.

 

 

Read More

How About More Community-Wide Creative Activities!

TaddeiTeaches2

As parents we do our best to encourage our kids creativity and their sense of exploration at home and in school. An often untapped venue lies in the amazing power of a community-wide creative activity!

Picture this: A hot, windless afternoon at the local pool. One week before the start of school. A resourceful father and educator organizes a community activity that challenges everyone’s creative skills and results in a celebration of innovation and play!

Anthony Taddei, who oversees the local pool program, has scattered flattened cardboard boxes of all sizes, assorted broken pieces of kickboard material and rolls and rolls of duct tape on the grass in front of the pool. Parents and children crowd around him as he explains:

“You have thirty minutes to design and build a boat using only what you see around you: cardboard, kickboard material and duct tape. The first boat – with one person on board – to go across the pool and back wins! Start building!”

Groups of parents and kids immediately start gathering materials and building the wildest assortment of floatation vehicles I have ever seen. The engagement and concentration is focused and, best of all, playful.

Even before reaching the water, designs soar and collapse – which leads to group discussions to discover alternative solutions to the problem.

Readers of this blog are probably familiar with the tab on our site “Getting Started Understanding Creativity.” If you haven’t seen it – here’s the link

http://dadsforcreativity.com/parent-partners-in-education/

Some of the important creativity skills noted by researchers include:

Produce and consider many alternatives

Be original

The community activity organized by Anthony Taddei incorporated those skills into a group activity. Sometimes we think of creativity as a solitary experience, but the power of collaboration can exponentially elevate the level of imaginative and innovative work.

There is increasing research in the field of creativity in groups that affirms how collaborative work can encourage and lead to the discovery of multiple and unique solutions to a given problem or situation. (For the fun of it – take a look at: Powers of Two – How Relationships Drive Creativity by Joshua Wolf Shenk. Shenk references neuroscience, cultural history and psychology to examine creativity – and along the way cites duos like Lennon and McCartney, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Pierre and Marie Curie.)

Now Back to the pool: The thirty minutes were up and parents and their kids carefully launched their “boats” in the pool water. And every device floated! …..but not all survived the test of floating with someone on board. Anthony Taddei blew his whistle – and the race was on between eight boats still floating with a passenger on board!

While one boat eventually crossed the finish line – the experience of families having fun and working together in a creative activity was the highlight of the day. And, as I learned afterwards – for some it was the highlight of the summer.

Every boat designed and assembled that afternoon was the result of collaboration and creativity.

As we continue to nurture the creative skills of our kids at home – let’s also take a lead from Anthony Taddei:

Let’s find more innovative ways to come together in community groups to exercise our creativity and stretch our imagination!

Race

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