When I sit down to make my Christmas shopping list and to help Santa with his, I like to think about all of the areas of child development including cognitive, social, language, gross motor and fine motor. I try to be sure that my Christmas shopping will offer opportunities for play in learning in each of these areas. We’ve all had those big hits under our tree that turn out to be toy our child played with for years. Most of us have all suffered a dud or two also that we felt we wasted our money on. Here I’ll share some of the best toys we’ve purchased for Christmas that we know we got our money’s worth for and I’ve asked some other savvy Moms and Dads to share too to create a great shopping guide for Christmas 2010.
The Medical Cart & Doctor’s Kit:
Santa left this medical cart and doctor’s kit under our tree as a “together” gift five years ago. While it gets a little less play these days, the kids still use it and when they have to make choices about parting with toys, no one wants to part with the medical cart.
I chose the medical cart over a doctor’s kit alone because I thought it added to the dramatic play and I liked that it had trays and holders for all of the instruments and supplies. Of course we’ve also added gauze, rubber gloves and other accessories over the years.
We love this pretend play toy because…
-Our kids can use it to play together.
-It offers role-playing and dramatic play opportunities as well as chances to take turns.
-Mom and Dad get to be the lazy patients, resting on the couch but still participating in our kid’s play.
-It has been durable and kid interesting for five years.
We also purchased the Plasma Cars five years ago for a then one year old and six year old. Plasma cars are a great pick for encouraging those gross motor skills. I wrote a detailed review of Plasma cars here but years later our kids still enjoy them. We’ve definitely gotten our money’s worth out of these great riding toys.
We love these riding toys because…
-They are lightweight and easy to take to the park
-They are so fun to ride that kids get lots of exercise without even realizing it.
-They’ve been super durable and used for five years.
Our favorite books:
This teacher’s list wouldn’t be complete with some great books to nurture cognitive development. These choices aren’t one hit wonders. These are five top books we’re still enjoying years later with links to my full reviews.
Disney The Magic Kitchen Cookbook
Disney Pixar Storybook Collection
The Big Book of Girl Stuff
Oh Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty
Saint Nicholas-The Real Story of the Christmas Legend
Michelle Johnson is a savvy mom of four with three girls and one boy from pre-k to middle school. Michelle’s pick for the best toy to get your money out of is an easel with a dry erase board.
An Easel with a Dry Erase Board:
“It’s worth every penny,” says Michelle. Looking at the many ways Michelle’s family uses the dry erase board easel, we can see that this gift fosters fine motor and cognitive skills.
Why her family loves the dry erase board…
-We use it for drawing.
-We use it for keeping score.
-We use it to practice writing and math.
Don’t forget the dry erase markers and eraser stocking stuffers.
Associated Content’s Lisa Carey, a featured parenting contributor and mom of four, also shared her best picks for Christmas gifts that will give families their money’s worth. Lisa is also a fan of family game nights and one of her favorite gifts is the Disney Scene It Jr. DVD.
Scene It Disney DVD:
In this interactive game kids can roll the dice, watch the clips and answer questions to make it to the Winner’s Circle. Read Lisa Carey’s full review of Scene It Disney here. With identification, memory and trivia games included this great gift addresses cognitive skills as well the social interaction of the players.
Why Lisa recommends Scene It Disney DVD game…
-It’s fun for all the ages in her home from preschool to teens.
-There’s a short version and a long version.
Deals or Duds?
I also asked parents if they had bought any “duds” that they wouldn’t waste their money on again. Lisa Carey was quick to respond that Moon Sand was a dud.
“Moon Sand is messy, dirty, doesn’t hold together well and if you put it in the mold and take it out again, it crumbles back into sand,” warns Lisa.
Keep developmental skills in mind when you set sail for Christmas shopping and you can help steer the course for the way your kids will play and learn in the new year.