Smart Christmas Gifts for Kids

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What do your kids want for Christmas?

The latest smartphone, iPad, tablet, or video game?

Kids love technology, but excessive screen time is damaging their ability to socially engage, deal with delayed gratification, and use their imaginations to create limitless fun.

High tech has its benefits and is here to stay, but that doesn't mean parents have to allow their kids to be consumed by it.  Forget keeping up with the Jones's--stand up to the societal pressure to conform.  Just because other parents are indulging their kids in electronics and devices doesn't mean you should too.

It's your job to look out for your kids' best interests, so invest in gifts they will not only love, but that will boost their creativity and harness their natural curiosity, interests, and strengths.

S.T.E.M. Gifts

Science, technology, engineering, and math are the career paths of the future.  You can help your kids prepare for success with toys and interactive gifts that meet their need for technology and gadgetry without turning them into screen junkies or computer zombies.  They will have so much fun with these smart toys, they won't even realize how much they are learning!

There are many gizmos and kits tagged as S.T.E.M. when they are really generic bombs.  The box looks fun, but they have no substance.

Let's take a look at real S.T.E.M. gifts that won't disappoint:

Kiwi Company 

When it comes to S.T.E.M. gifts, the KiwiCo is at the top of the list.

The last thing parents want to do is to go on a wild goose chase seeking miscellaneous pieces parts for their kids to create something amazing.  KiwiCo does all the work for you!  You just buy the subscription, and a crate will arrive at your doorstep every month, unless you set your subscription to space crates out a little further apart.  Every single item your child needs to complete the project is included in the crate.

KiwiCo designs crates for ages 0 to 104.  You select a crate that best matches your child's interests in one of these categories:
  • Science and tinkering
  • Art and design
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering
  • Geography and culture
  • Play and learn
  • Explore and discover
Over 1,000 hours go into designing each crate.  Sample engineering crates might include building a robot, swinging pendulum, flying disc machine, or planetarium.  Each crate comes with kid-friendly instructions, meaning if you pick an age-appropriate crate, your child can complete the project independently.

The best part--kids will be learning #STEM skills and not even know it because KiwiCo makes enrichment fun!

MindWare

MindWare produces brainy, award-winning gifts that look like regular toys.  In fact, they are toys, but they are S.T.E.M. toys that inspire innovation.  Let's look at a few examples.
  • Keva Planks and Contraptions:  Kids use wooden planks to build various structures to teach them about balance, proportion, and architectural design.  No glue or connectors are required.  Each plank set comes with project ideas.  This smart toy keeps kids occupied for hours!  Students love building with these sets for indoor recess, so they are ideal in the classroom, too.  
  • Snap Circuits: Kids experiment with circuits in various electronics, such as lights and sounds, to design tons of unique projects.  Step-by-step instructions are included to make sure kids make the most of this super fun and interactive kit.
  • Marble Run:  There are so many formations kids can make with an array of marble run sets to build tracks and rails and watch marbles take different paths.  This is a fascinating toy with many possibilities.  The elevator set provides an extra thrill. 
  • Chemistry Labs:   When your child is making bath bombs, lip balms, soap, perfume, and more, they won't even realize how much they are learning about chemistry! 
  • Dig It Up Sets:  Variations of these sets allow your child to excavate for dinosaur bones and eggs, sea creatures, bugs, fossils, minerals, and more science fun.
  • Art Projects:  For your creative child, MindWare offers stepping stones and stone decor for painting, embroidery projects, jewelry making, pillow crafting, string art, mosaics, and plush craft sets to boost and showcase their artistic talents.
  • Brain Teasers and Puzzles:  For kids who need extra challenge and enrichment, you'll find brain puzzles, Perplexor books covering math and reading, and extreme dot-to-dot books that are ideal for road trips, rainy days, and other down times.
  • Games: You will find amazing additions for your family game nights at home.  Types of games include word play, strategy, trivia, visual challenges, American history, and many others.
Don't let your kids spend hours playing brain-numbing video games or obsessing with electronics when a treasure chest of fun is waiting to be opened that will stimulate their minds, inspire their creativity, and prepare them for a successful future!  

Gifts to Encourage Reading

Reading is one of life's most important, essential skills, yet kids today are reading less and less.  According to research by the American Psychological Association, less than 20 percent of U.S. teens are reading printed materials for pleasure, yet over 80 percent attest to using social media every day.

These statistics are alarming.

One way to encourage kids to read more is to allow books and technology to collide, which makes an Amazon Kindle the perfect gift.

Kids love to receive mail, so buy them magazine subscriptions for Christmas.  Great magazines for kids include Highlights, National Geographic Kids, Boys' Life, and Animal Tales.  These magazines are filled with interesting facts and activities that will absorb your kids into reading.

Gifts to Make Kids Move

With their obsession with electronics and gaming, kids have become too sedentary!  Give your kids gifts that encourage movement:
  • Bikes
  • Scooters
  • Trampolines
  • Skates
  • Sleds (for winter)
  • Slip-n-slides (for summer)
  • Sports equipment like volleyballs, footballs, soccer balls, basketball hoops, etc.
  • Pogo sticks
What indoor recreation does your city offer?  Buy your kids gift cards to gigantic soft plays, trampoline parks, obstacle courses, roller rinks, laser tag adventures, or gymnastic centers.  

Even technology offers gaming that requires movement, like Wii Dance and Sports Resort.  

Get your kids off the couch and making healthy lifestyle choices!

Avoid Dust-Collecting Toys

You know your kids better than anyone.  Just because they've created a wish list one mile long doesn't mean they will end up enjoying those items as much as they might think.

Too often, kids play with a new toy for a day, and then it's tossed into the toy box, never to be seen again until the next purge.  Don't waste your money on gifts that start with a bang and end with a fizzle. Legos and K'nex sticks are also great choices to build engineering and problem-solving skills.  They don't lose their luster because the potential combinations are endless to create something new.     
Smart gifts light a spark in your kids--a spark to build, create, invent, and explore.  Get them in touch with their inner-innovator this Christmas!

#gifts

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