by Amanda Konopaska
Not sure what to tell relatives when they ask you for your child’s holiday wish list? Are you trying to avoid meaningless toys that become clutter and dust collectors after Christmas?
Ages 0-6: The First Plane of Development
Even though children ages zero to three are not clearly conscious of their learning, they are discovering who they are. As they reach age three and progress through this plane, the three to six-year-old becomes aware of their work. Once a child turns six, they exhibit confidence and independence. Since your child’s mind is soaking in information like a sponge, these gift ideas allow your child to explore and absorb it all.
1) Rattle and Teether Grasping Toy – Give your little one a gift that will allow them to develop their dexterity and also sooth their teething gums. As a baby begins to experience the world around them, they are amazed by shapes and designs. This time-honored classic toy contains an intriguing blend of ingenious design and developmental function with its unique shape and interconnecting wooden dowels.
2) Montessori Infant Coin Box – Babies and toddlers are constantly developing and improving fine motor skills along with hand-to-eye coordination. Consider giving them this coin box that includes five blue wooden coins, a pull-out drawer, and teaching instructions. Your little one will enjoy this gift over and over again.
3) Lacing Game – Assist your little one in strengthening their imagination and coordination with this present. Designed to develop lacing and sewing skills, this gift idea makes sewing easy for a young child and provides a friendly and inviting challenge.
4) Phonetic Reading Blocks – Perfect for the beginning reader, these Montessori reading blocks allow your child to practice phonics with all five vowel sounds plus 13 different consonants. Little fingers can twist the blocks to discover new letters and up t0 80 words, especially ones that rhyme. All words are in the dictionary and phonetic! Plus, they will match all of your Montessori Language materials since the letters are written in lowercase D’nealian print with red consonants and blue vowels.
5) Wood Lacing Sneaker – Children at this age are continuously more independent, giving themselves a sense of pride as they reach various milestones. What better gift than a sense of accomplishment with mastering shoe lacing and tying skills, a monumental step in development? This wooden high-top sneaker will make practicing enjoyable and help your child reach this developmental milestone.
6) Fruit Cutting Set – Offering more than just pretend play, this product teaches fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Present your child with a package that encourages imaginative and independent play, plus introduces the concept of fractions. This set features a wooden knife and seven pieces of sliceable fruit that can be cut into a total of 17 pieces.
7) 6-Piece Cleaning Set – A perfect gift for youngsters who are always trying to help mommy or daddy around the house, this cleaning set allows them to have kid-sized tools to foster practical life skills. All of the pieces can be stored on the wooden upright stand, making it easy to stay organized. With solid wood handles, the set presents a classic, realistic look. The long-handled broom and small brush’s soft bristles sweep gently over all surfaces. Reinforced fibers prevent the dusters feathers from falling out, and the durable dustpan snaps onto any of the other handles.
8) Binomial Cube – With the binomial cube, a child can practice fitting the pieces together as a puzzle or explore Algebra in an interactive way. Composed of eight wooden blocks which fit together in a binomial pattern, this gift can prepare children for algebra and advanced mathematics. Younger children can use this resource simply as a sensorial activity of visual discrimination of color and form.
Ages 6-12: The Second Plane of Development
During this plane, the child must consciously make an effort to understand the information that is being absorbed. In Montessori, we call this the “absorbent mind.” The child’s personality becomes more complex and the child seeks to understand reasons rather than facts. The child yearns for independence and becomes interested in learning about everything. The imagination of the child craves to explore the world around them and they soon learn the interconnectedness of the life in which they live. The gifts at this age focus on independence and imagination.
9) Brain Builders Game– Put your child’s 3D imagination to the test with these Brain Builders from MindWare. This interactive STEM tool enables kids to turn technical drawings into fun, recognizable objects. From beginner to expert, children can create picnic tables, rowboats, swans and snails as they resist the urge to peek.
10) Legos or K’Nex– The key to these popular items is to give basic sets rather than ones that are meant to produce one thing. This enables the child to create his or her own design, plan the construction, and fit the pieces together in the most intuitive way. Working with these building sets, helps the child to plan and organize thoughts, material, and process. This work is both logical/sequential (left brain) and spatial (right brain) while also engaging the child’s fine motor skills. If they collapse or fall apart, they can simply be rebuilt, which is a great metaphor to learn for the rest of one’s life.
11) A Magazine Subscription– This is a gift that keeps on giving long after the holiday season is over. Giving the gift of a magazine that meets the child’s interests is a great idea for this holiday season and the choices are endless. Support a child that loves cooking by gifting “ChopChop,” a magazine that includes healthy, inexpensive and diverse recipes for families to create together. There are also the traditional favorites such as “Ranger Rick” and “Highlights for Kids” which every child is sure to love!
12) A Pet- Children crave independence and responsibility. A small pet is a great way for a child to learn how to care for others, be responsible, and respect all life forms. It also shows the child that the adult trust them enough to take care of another life. Parents who take care of their child’s pet for them are missing out on teaching so many valuable life lessons. If you are feeling a bit uneasy, start with something as simple as a goldfish or hermit crab.
13) A Moon Jar – The Moon Jar teaches children the importance of spending, saving and sharing their money. Not only does it help children learn about money, it allows them the independence to choose how their money will be spent.
14) Money to Shop for Someone in Need- A great way to empower a child is to allow them to shop for someone less fortunate than themselves. Maybe you selected a family to sponsor this season or a local church or library is collecting items for the holidays, whatever the case may be, hand over the money and let your child do the shopping. This leads to great conversations about needs and wants and helps your child to see a different perspective on the world around them. Not only are they helping a person in need, but they are spending quality time with an adult who is teaching them a life lesson they will never forget!
15) Mini House Models- This brain teaser will keep both you and your child busy as you figure out the 3D Wooden Puzzle together. Entertaining, educating and environment-friendly, these bamboo models encourage imagination stemmed from realistic structures.
16) Sensory Pillow- Encourage kids, teens or young adults’ imagination with this pillow that’s not only a great addition to any decor but also a terrific sensory item for individuals with autism! The colorful reversible sequins are perfect for your child to explore writing words or drawing any patterns they desire.
17) Herb Garden Starter Kit- Give a gift that teaches your child about how plants grow and flourish. Nature’s Blossom’s seed starting kit introduces gardening to children with everything they need to grow five popular culinary herbs from seed – Basil; Thyme; Cilantro; Parsley; Sage. It also includes seed starting soil pellets, biodegradable growing pots, plant markers and an instruction manual.
Ages 12-18: The Third Plane of Development
This stage of development focuses on the child growing into an active member of society. Although the children in this plane are learning to accept each other socially and explore their world, this plane often mirrors that of the 1st plane of development. The children in this plane seek to find their identity and become individuals in their community. Time with friends and time on their own sleeping or eating become routine for children during these ages. Adolescents can be tricky to buy for but these ideas are sure to spark their interests!
18) Games of Strategy such as Chess or Perplexus- These games require hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, ingenuity, perseverance, teach resilience and patience, and incorporate kinesthetic activity as well as visualization skills. The Montessori method conceals lessons for the student into a fun learning experience similar to the way these games operate.
19) “Wreck This Journal”– This book encourages creations, mistakes and a “learn-by-doing” approach. Children at this age can very easily fall into the trap of being afraid to make mistakes and this is great practice to allow them to take risks. This deviously delightful book allows students to “rub this page on a dirty car,” “figure out a way to attach these pages together,” or “collect a ‘W’.” It is creative and destructive all at the same time.
20) An Opportunity for Healthy Risk-Taking- Give your adolescent the gift of “taking a risk” this holiday season. Some ideas include kite-boarding lessons, a drama class, bungee jumping, a helicopter rider, cooking class, a henna tattoo, or a rock climbing membership. Healthy risk-taking allows for the child to understand that not all risks are harmful. Risk-taking behaviors peak during the adolescent years so why not give them the opportunity to embrace positive risk taking? This will help them to feel independent and embrace finding their identity.
21) Botanical DIY Embroidery Kit– Even if your teen has never attempted embroidery, they will be able to excel with this kit that uses just two types of stitches. It is ideal for the embroidery novice who is eager to grow their skills. This gift enables teenagers to swiftly create a threaded work of art in botanical patterns are based on the cyanotypes of 19th-century botanist and photographer Anna Atkins.
22) Teens’ Guide to College & Career Planning- Teens, parents, and numerous experts share their advice in the Teens Guide to College & Career Planning. Perfect for high school students about to make important decisions involving life after graduation, this easy-to-read guide, with updated content by Justin Ross Muchnick (author of Peterson’s The Boarding School Survival Guide), provides busy students with the information they need as they embark on the next season of their lives.
23) Money Maze- If you want to give your older child some cash in a unique way, this toy maze box is a great challenge, without being too hard to crack or too easy and boring. The degree of difficulty can easily be adjusting, making it an option for various ages. Once the puzzle is solved and the money is retrieved, it serves other purposes like a coin box, secret storage or fun banks for kids.
24) Latice Board Game- Allow the teenager in your life to dive deep into strategies with this new classic strategy board game where simple rules combine into surprisingly complex thought processes. Match tiles by color or shape and on two, three, or four sides to earn extra moves. Be the first player to use all tiles and be declared the winner.
25) Salt Lamp- Made from salt crystals that are hand mined in the Himalayan Mountains, this salt lamp is specially handcrafted for uniqueness. Teens will love the warm amber glow it adds to their room. When unlit, the crystal’s rough-hewn, irregular surface appears pink. When lit with the included 40-watt bulb, it gives a warm amber glow. Change the color of the bulb to give a different hue to the lighting area.
No matter the age of the child, a variety of gifts can reach each child’s interest, promote independence and allow for imaginative play. Our simple and condensed list is just a snip-it of ideas to support the growth and development of a Montessori child. Keep in mind these ideas as you begin the holiday gift-giving season. From our family at Montessori Rocks to yours, we wish you a peaceful holiday season!
Amanda Konopaska has been dedicated to Montessori education for the past six years. She received a bachelor’s in Education from Wayne State University and holds an elementary credential through the American Montessori Society. Currently, she is working on the completion of her master’s in Educational Leadership. Both in and out of the classroom, Amanda has spread the love of Montessori with teachers, students, parents and the community. She has a love for differentiated instruction and a true passion for meeting the interests of her students. She is extremely excited to be a part of the Montessori Rocks blogging team to share her knowledge with you and the entire Montessori community.