Zentangle cards are my newest discovery. I’m an inveterate doodler, but I never knew it had any purpose until I found these cards. It turns out that Zentangle (drawing structured, repetitive patterns) is a form of artistic meditation. I love the way these cards show simple steps, making complex images manageable for children.
I look for Dover Little Activity Books wherever I go. I’m a big fan because they’re excellent quality for the price. And the price is GREAT! They also make Big Activity books, but you can’t beat a $1.50. I like the stained glass coloring books the best, but the stencils are wonderful, too. There are also sticker and sticker activity books, flash cards, maze books, coloring books, post card and bookmark books, and even temporary tattoos. Subjects range from Elmo to birds of North America. Look for Dover products at your local craft stores or bookstores.
I saw this baby in the Exploratorium shop in San Francisco and immediately knew a few boys who’d love it. The Pocket Monkey has twelve different functions (including unlocking doors!) and yet can fit in your pocket. It acts as an orange peeler, a banana nicker, a micro-screwdriver, a flathead screwdriver, a philips head screwdriver and five different size hex wrenches. Perfect for surviving the night if your mom actually does leave you overnight at school like she’s threatened to do a million times.
Equal opportunity Jelly Belly camo beans. We all know they’re getting candy in their stockings…might as well make it exciting, right?
A cutting box is a wonderful gift for a three year old–I made one for my niece last Christmas, when she was obsessed with scissors. You can buy one preprepared, like the one pictured above, or make your own. Here’s what you need:
- A craft box with adjustable dividers (like this one). The adjustable dividers will be lifesavers, I promise!
- Scissors, of course! Depending on the age of the child, this may vary. Safety scissors like these ones from Discount School Supply have springs, which helps just getting used to the skill of cutting. For older, more confident cutters, add in Paper Shaper scissors for some fancy borders.
- Paper, ribbon, straws, yarn, string, cardstock, strips of wrapping paper, anything you can think of that will be fun to cut!
- Craft punchers! These are great for when all that cutting starts to tire those little hands.
I actually bought the first two books in Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales series on a whim, not knowing what a hit they’d be with the students in my class. However, they’ve been so popular that my students have written a letter to Nathan Hale (haven’t heard back, sadly) and I’ve already preordered book five. If you haven’t already introduced your 7-to-10 year old boy to these books, now’s the time. They’re guaranteed to hook even the most reluctant reader. And they teach American history, too!
Prismacolor pencils are the kind of pencils we use for insets in the classroom and they’re fantastic. Every child I know of that has a set of their own treasures them like a rare, special golden gift. Because, let’s face it, they’re worth their weight in gold. Not only are the colors great and quality divine, they’re expensive. Worth every penny, though. If you decide to splurge on these, get them from Michaels and take at least a 40% off coupon.
Kids love to cook and they’d be thrilled to have their own, kid-sized tools to use in the kitchen. It gives them a special kind of pride to have and use their own instruments, so why not get them their own? There are lots a great cookbooks for children out there, but I like Mollie Katzen’s illustrations and easy-to follow instructions. Plus, taking meat out of the equation is so helpful when it comes to cooking with kids.
What are your favorite holiday gifts for children?