With Christmas fast approaching, are you still struggling to find presents for your children? You might find yourself overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices: should you spring for an electronic learning device so your kids don’t get left behind at school? But then, what about screen time?
What are Shopkins all about, and why is there so much stuff? (For the uninitiated, it’s an entire range of tiny collectible toys.) And what the heck is a PJ Mask? (Hint: It’s an animated series that has nothing to do with Petaling Jaya.)
Pause right there, fellow parent, and take a couple of deep breaths. Sometimes, going old-school and traditional might be the easier way to go. And despite the risk of your being labelled “old-fashioned” by your young ones, the following gift ideas are perfect for kids aged three and older.
Ah yes, this time-honoured toy. But what kind of blocks, you ask? The short answer is: any kind.
Whether they’re plastic and fit together, or are made of wood, early childhood researchers reckon blocks tick all the boxes in terms of fostering imagination, building (no pun intended!) a sense of spatial reasoning and language (“above”, “below”, “next to”, “behind”).
Best of all, it’s something the whole family can do together – regardless of age.
2. Board and card games
Memory card games as well as old favourites such as “Uno” and “Snap” are something the whole family can take part in. These games help refine your child’s (and your own) sense of difference and sameness, as well as attention to detail.
If you have older kids, “Snakes and Ladders”, “Operation”, chess, or even “Monopoly” can be a great way of building social skills and understanding rules.
3. Dress-up costumes
Kids love to use their imaginations, so it would be a shame not to encourage and nurture them. Feed their sense of wonder and whimsy by stocking up the dress-up box. Fill it with gender-neutral costumes, or bits and pieces sourced from charity stores or flea markets.
Children of both sexes will love playing make-believe with a stethoscope, firefighter’s helmet, funny hats, and sunglasses and capes. Glitter, feathers, sequins and other shiny things are also always a winner.
4. Science kits
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is very hot right now, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Kids of all ages could learn about biology with an at-home ant farm or butterfly garden.
Nurture your little paleontologist’s passion with a dinosaur dig kit, or germinate your little geologist’s gusto for geodes through crystal-growing.
Got a little stargazer on your hands? A telescope or a diorama of the solar system will have your older child starry-eyed with excitement; while kids who are into moving parts would enjoy a build-it-yourself vehicle.
The possibilities are to the power of N – that is, an ever-expanding number!
5. Sports and game gear
Malaysia is hot, humid and sweaty. It can be downright unpleasant – but here’s a secret: this doesn’t bother kids too much, especially when they’re having fun.
Health professionals and researchers recommend for those aged one to five to spend 180 minutes a day carrying out some sort of physical activity, while those between ages five and 12 should aim for an hour daily.
Encourage them to get out there with sports and game gear. Younger kids can work on their hand-eye coordination by playing ball outside, or attempting to play cricket, sepak takraw or football. A basketball hoop and ball or a pair of roller blades (and a helmet!) can get older kids excited.
As for something the whole family can enjoy? A badminton set will have everyone moving!
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This article was written by Faye Song for makchic, a Malaysian-based online site for chic, curious, and spirited parents, which has been providing trustworthy and authentic family-related content since 2013. For diverse stories of parenthood that inform, support, and uplift all families, visit makchic.com and follow them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.