Thursday, November 27, 2014

Every year about this time, I am asked for  suggestions of “montessori-style’ gifts to give to children.  Usually, I suggest an atlas or a globe geared for children, child sized cooking utensils, books, etc.  All very good gifts but .........

This year, I decided to strap on the old thinking cap and put together a new list.  Everything here has been child tested and declared 'cool' by my own children and others.  Hopefully you will find this helpful.

1. A child-size stethoscope and a book about the heart or body. (There is one of each in the Smallhands catalogue.)

2.  A building toy.  Now lego is great but take a look at some others, as well.  A couple of sets I’ve seen (and wished I’d found when my boys were younger) are ‘Structures by Mindset, and KEVA colour planks.

3.  Make a felt story to go with one of your child’s favourite books.  Felt stories are a great alternative to the bedtime story, are great for waiting in terminals and on planes, and can be played with by the child even when a parent is busy. Here is an excellent guide to making felt stories.

4.  For the older child - professional quality art materials.  These can be paired with how-to book for beginners.  (Watercolor: For the Artistically Undiscovered by Klutz is one suggestion.)  A few lessons with an artist would make a nice accompanying present from a close relative.  Better yet, if there is an adult artist in the family a few formal lessons with that person could be a great gift.

5.  A REAL musical instrument (don’t cheap-out and get a toy) and a few months of music lessons.

6.  A set of their very own rhythm instruments.  Again, try to get as little plastic as possible. Wooden rhythm instruments feel and sound a lot better than plastic counterparts.

7.  A complete sewing kit. With real scissors and needles.  If there is a younger sibling in the house, there will have to be some rules about where and when the sewing kit is used. 

8.  Any game by Ravensburger.  (Why Ravensburger?  Over the years, I have found their standards to be in line with the Montessori principles of non-violence, family values, and purposeful occupation. )   Better yet, give several game with the promise of a weekly Family game night (if you haven’t already).

9.  A microscope and lots of slides. I still remember the one we had as children.  Yes, I broke many slides by twisting the lens too close but I soon learned to be more careful.

10.   The ultimate dress-up box.  Princesses and knights are okay but to make a truly spectacular dress-up experience, consider child-size national costumes.  Some examples are a child’s kimono, sari, dishdasha,, salwar kameez, a kilt and sporin… the list is endless.  Complete the box with some good books full of pictures of people,  from around the world, dressed in their traditional clothes. (i.e. People around the world from Macmillan Publishing).  You might also consider throwing in a few adult size costumes so the whole family can join in the fun!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!
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