The holiday season is in full swing and if you haven’t already started your shopping you’re probably thinking about it! This week we take a look at gifts for children, whether they be your own kids, nieces and nephews, or friends. Read on for a Montessori holiday gift-giving guide…
Keeping Development in Mind
Montessori’s concept of the developmental planes can be helpful to keep in mind while selecting gifts. Reminding ourselves of the characteristics of each phase of childhood can give surprising insight! Here’s a brief summary with ideas:
|Developmental Plane||Some Characteristics||Gift Ideas|
|Ages 0-6||● Sense of order
● Language development
● Movement/ development of motor skills
● Refinement of the Senses
|● Child-sized cleaning supplies
● Scooters or bicycles (tricycles or training wheels)
● Playdough or cooking tools
|Ages 6-12||● Use of Imagination
● Creative Thinking
● Social – Prefers Groups
● Cultural Awareness
|● Science-based activities or games
● Art supplies
● Board games
● Books about topics of interest
|Ages 13-18||● Creative Expression
● Physical Development
● Looking for Place in Society
● Personal Reflection
|● Music (albums, player, headphones, lessons)
● Sports or outdoor gear
● Tickets to an event
● Journals or items related to their current interests
It’s Okay to Reinvent Expectations
Some of us have memories of large piles of presents and we want our children to have great holiday memories, too. The thing is, it’s okay if their holidays don’t include so much stuff. Young children, especially, don’t have expectations like we do. A few carefully chosen, nice quality gifts will make them just as happy as you were as a kid. You know that nagging feeling you sometimes have that their toys are taking over the house? It’s totally okay to give them less.
Another idea to consider is to give the gift of experiences. This works really well for adults and older children but can be used with younger children as well. Tickets to an event, movie passes, or a gift certificate (trampoline park, art open studio time, mini-golf) will always be appreciated. As a bonus, the recipient can often enjoy these experiences with someone they love.
Create (or Continue!) Traditions
You likely already have traditions, either from your own childhood or that your family has developed over the years. Creating rituals creates memories and a deep sense of love and celebration that won’t soon be forgotten. Looking for some ideas? We’ve got some!
- Have a collection of holiday books. Keep them packed away in a closet most of the year, but this time of year they can be placed in a nice basket in your living room, with a new one added each year.
- Find a way for your family to give back to the community. Older children can volunteer at a soup kitchen, but even younger children can help bake cookies to take to local firefighters. If you live in an area where there is a homeless population, you might work as a family to create care packages: small bags filled with food and other items that might be useful. They can be kept in your car to give to people as you meet them, or they can be dropped off at a local shelter or similar organization.
- Bake cookies. Or cook or bake something else that’s special to your family. Time spent together in the kitchen is so special, plus you’ll be sharing important skills with your kids.
- Make decorations. With a little guidance, children can string together popcorn and cranberries.
- Enjoy storytelling. Every culture, religion, and family have tales to tell. Gather around a fireplace, candlelight, or just cozy up on the couch and tell stories. Folktales, myths, and family history are all great!
Resources for Montessori Families
Are you looking for specific places to buy gifts? Try supporting small local businesses – they often have items that are hard to find anywhere else. As a bonus, you will be supporting your local economy and helping your neighbors!
For Montessori-specific gifts, we recommend the following:
For Small Hands/Montessori Services:
Provides high-quality products with Montessori families in mind.
If you’re looking for nature and outdoor learning gifts, look no further! This website caters to teachers, but many of the learning materials would be just as appreciated at home.
With a focus on real wood and natural fibers, this Vermont-based toy company is a Montessori parent’s dream.