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Christmas is approaching, but are you still struggling to find presents for the kids?

If you’re anything like me, you might be finding yourself overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of choices.

Should you spring for an electronic learning device for the kids, so they don’t get left behind at school? But then, what about too much screen time? What’s Shopkins all about, and why is there so much stuff? And what the heck is a PJ Mask?

Pause right there, fellow parent. Lean back, and take a couple of deep breaths. You know how sometimes you worry that you’re too old-fashioned and traditional? That’s not always a bad thing, especially when it comes to present gifting.

Here are some traditional (but definitely not boring) Christmas present ideas for kids aged three years and older:

Blocks

But what kind of blocks, you ask? The short answer is – any kind. Whether they’re plastic and fit together, or are made of wood, early childhood researchers reckon blocks tick all the boxes in terms of fostering imagination, building (no pun intended) a sense of spatial reasoning and language (above, below, next to, behind), and being something the whole family can do together – regardless of age.

Board and card games

I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but my three year-old has been absolutely kicking my butt at a memory card game. It took him a while to get the rules, but for the last two weeks, we have been playing at least a game a night. It has refined his sense of difference and sameness and attention to detail (and mine, too). Memory card games as well as old favourites Uno and Snap are something the whole family can take part in. If you’ve got older kids, snakes and ladders, Operation, chess or even Monopoly can be a great way of building social skills and understanding rules.

Dress-up costumes

Kids love using their imaginations, and it’s a shame not to encourage and nurture it. Feed their sense of wonder and whimsy by stocking up the dress-up box – fill it with gender-neutral costumes or bits and pieces sourced from charity stores or flea markets. Kids of both sexes would love playing make-believe with a stethoscope, firefighter’s helmet, funny hats and sunglasses and capes. Glitter, feathers, sequins and other shiny things are also always a winner.

Science kits

STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education is very hot right now but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Kids of all ages could learn about biology with an at-home ant farm or butterfly garden. Nurture your little paleontologist’s passion with a dinosaur dig kit, or grow your little geologist’s gusto for geodes with a crystal-growing kit. Got a little stargazer on your hands?

A telescope or a diorama of the solar system you can set up together will have your older child starry-eyed with excitement while kids who are into moving parts would enjoy a build-it-yourself vehicle. The possibilities are to the power of N – that is, an ever-expanding number of possibilities.

Games gear

Malaysia is hot. It’s sweaty, humid and can be downright unpleasant. But let me tell you a secret – the heat doesn’t really bother the kids too much, especially when they’re having fun. Health professionals and researchers recommend kids from one to five years of age should spend 180 minutes a day of physical activity, whereas kids aged five to 12 years should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily.

Encourage them to get out there with games gear. Younger kids can work on their hand-eye coordination by playing ball outside, or attempting to play cricket, tee-ball or football. A basketball hoop and ball or a pair of roller blades (and a helmet!) can get older kids excited. After something the whole family can enjoy? A badminton set will have everyone moving!

 

By Faye Song

Faye Song is a former journalist now working in marketing and communications. She lives in Darwin, where she enjoys the best of Southeast Asia (the food and night markets) and Australia (the workday that ends punctually at 4.21pm), with her husband, toddler and small dog.

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