Montessori at Home: Gift Giving

Parents often ask for gift suggestions, at this time of year. While offerings are endless from toy stores, catalogs and websites, oftentimes the simpler and more practical the gift, the better. As we have experienced, children love (and need) to work with their hands. Craft kits of many varieties, origami sets, model cars and planes, woodworking kits, and construction sets are always popular because they engage the hands and the mind in open-ended, creative play.
Games and puzzles are great because they promote cooperative effort and problem-solving skills. Items that get children moving, whether inside or out, are wonderful too—jump ropes, hula hoops, yoga cards are just a few. If your child loves helping in the kitchen, a child-sized apron and kitchen tools (real, not toy ones) would be a well-loved gift. Creating a box with career dress-ups like policeman, nurse, chef, etc. lends to hours of imaginative fun.
By thinking about what our children really like doing and what activities serve to enhance their development, we can come up with wonderfully personal gifts that won’t get tossed aside after a few uses or when the batteries have powered out. Craft stores, bird shops, outdoor stores and the like may offer more creative options than the typical toy stores lined with over-packaged, plastic, noisy and flashy toys.

A few more ideas are:

  • Baking set
  • Wall map or globe
  • Farm or wild animal figures
  • Fancy scarves, gloves, hats or other old clothes for dress up
  • Paints and easel
  • Shaped soaps w/nail brush and washcloth
  • New lunch bag/water bottle
  • Scrapbooking starter kit or photo album
  • Clay or dough w/tools
  • Rhythm or other small instruments
  • Magnetic mosaic sets
  • Simple sewing or crochet kits
  • Board games
  • Books

The idea of limiting gifts to one or two with special meaning, instead of a large selection, may help children learn to be satisfied with quality over quantity. Choosing an organization to donate to, may engender in your child an appreciation for their own circumstances and a desire to help others.
Above all, your child wants to be actively involved in what you are doing. They want your time and attention. They want to know they are a valuable participant in any family occasion.