Since I taught elementary school for many years, I often have parents ask what they should look for when buying holiday gifts for young children. I have some guidinglines to help you choose wisely.
For Babies and Toddlers:
When buying books, look for board books or washable cloth since they will take a beating. Images should be colorful and not crowded on the page. Simple images are the best and flap book where kids can lift to peek are really fun. Toys should let kids explore colors, shapes and music. Foam blocks and simple puzzles are also great.
Kids like stories that tell about the things they see every day, both in the home and in their neighborhoods. Animal stories are very appealing and kids are starting to enjoy humor as well. Toys are this age are starting to have more than 1 piece, often using cause and effect motions. Simple games are fun, especially if they foster cooperative rather than competitive play. Beginning art materials are appropriate now also, especially washable markers and lots of big pieces of paper, window and bath crayons, and soft clay.
Kindergartners and First Graders:
Beginning readers are easily found for kids this age. Children learn a lot about reading while watching you run your finger under the words as you read, and seeing you read top to bottom and when you turn pages. Now they can predict what will happen, and talk about their favorite character or favorite part of the story.
Non fiction books are especially helpful, since the children can more easily predict the words they might see and what facts the story will be teaching. Toys at this age should follow their interests. Many of them will require multiple steps and following directions. Games will require taking turns and some memory skills. At this stage, children will need to recognize numbers, letters and symbols to play. Don't forget to look for games on-line as well. Continue with arts and craft activities, introducing safety scissors, washable glue and watercolor paints.
As always, don't forget to follow the safety age recommendations required to be listed on all games and toys.
They are there for a reason...and you risk harm to children by letting them play with toys that have small or moving parts that are recommended for older children.
Check here every month for products that have been recalled.