Gift Ideas for Elementary Children

Our classroom has been very active with birthday celebrations lately, and my calendar tells me we are quickly moving toward the gift-giving season of the year. I am frequently asked about appropriate gifts for children of the elementary age, particularly gifts that are attuned with Montessori. What is right for each child varies with age and temperament but remembering a few guidelines can be helpful.


Elementary children:

1. want to and need to move their bodies.

Gifts that encourage activity and motion (bicycles, jump ropes, hula hoops, balls) are great. If you (and your child) are truly adventurous, consider setting up a zipline or a slack line in the back yard. Gifts that refine fine-motor skills are also appropriate, such as card-based magic tricks, juggling balls or a book teaching string games such as cat’s cradle. Children this age are driven to take on and master new skills.

2. love to play with other children or adults.

Social interest and interaction is one of the hallmarks of this age group, combined with an interest in rules. Therefore, board games are ideal. Try something that starts simple but can get complex: such as go or mancala. Favorites of the classroom are: Set , Blokus, and Qwirkle.

3. continue to be eager for sensorial experiences, particularly ones that open the door for wonder and awe.

Consider gifting them with a visit to the MUNY , the Rep, the St Louis symphony, the Fox, or a COCA production. Also consider taking them to a local sporting event, such as a Blues game.

4. like to make things, both in artistic and scientific spheres.

They will appreciate quality art supplies, such as those available at ArtMart. Maybe something that approaches both science and art, like these sunprints? Or consider getting them science kits. Of particular interest may be snap together electronics, such as little bits. Perhaps open ended making is more their style, like a set from MakeDo.

5. love to get things in the mail.

They have learned that writing is communicating across time and space and are fascinated by writing that has arrived just for them. I often recommend magazine subscriptions, such as National Geographic (the young or adult version), or Missouri’s Department of Conservation children’s publication Xplor (free to people with a Missouri address!). A list of well-regarded magazines for children can be found here. Or you can send them something more personal yourself, at regular intervals, such as twice a month. Consider sending them old photographs, stories or poems that you write for them, or coupons good for time together doing activities you both enjoy (hiking, baking, game night or movie night). Mailing something personal to them is a good suggestion for faraway relatives, if they are willing to put in the time to make something and send it.

6. cannot spend too much time outdoors.

Consider a GPS and a promise (which you keep! Put it in your calendar) to take your child geocaching every month. Put together a bird watching kit with binoculars, a bird identification book, a logbook and some bird food. A headlamp for exploration and navigation will inspire nocturnal adventures. A telescope to set up in the backyard will entice their curiosity about the night sky.

More reading on gift ideas for elementary children is available here.

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