Sunday, December 2, 2012

Top 10 Wooden Gifts for Kids

Holiday Gift Giving Ideas for Nannies and Au Pairs

It's not realistic for most nannies and au pairs to skip giving gifts to the children they care for the holidays. But, when sharing gifts there is no reason for caregivers to spend a lot of money. Instead, I encourage nannies and au pairs to keep to a budget by choosing quality gifts, rather than expensive gifts for the children in their care. Wooden toys make great gifts as they are usually non-toxic, environmentally friendly, and provide hours of imaginative play.

Here are my top ten wooden gifts to give to kids this holiday season:

1. Plan Toys 50 Construction Set

Playing with blocks promotes imagination promote natural learning, creative play, and healthy social interaction. Toddlers develop fine motor skills and explore concepts like early math, geometry, problem solving and cause and effect when playing with blocks. Plan Toys is the first company to manufacture toys using wood from rubber trees that no longer provide latex.  

2. Melissa and Doug Fold and Go Mini Barn

Children three-years-old and up love this two-story barn is stocked with seven realistic plastic farm animals, a wooden ladder and a folding corral. The farm has wonderful detail, smooth-working parts, and ample room for play and lodging of the horses and other animals. Chunky handles let you take the toy wherever you go!

3. Magica Rattle

This rattle is made of colorful wooden balls that securely attached by elastic, yet balls and rattle are flexible. The balls are just the right size for infants to pick up with their little hands, which helps to build motor skills. It is durable and non-toxic.

4. Alex Toys Wooden Stringing Sets

I have found that toddlers love the bright colors and shapes of Alex Toys stringing sets. I am recommending the gender neutral farm stringing set today but Alex Toys offers other fun sets as well including cars, clothes, letters, and treats. Each set includes 12 wooden beads, wooden needle, cotton lace, and stopper. The wooden needle is easy for little hands to lace through the beads. Children can also play with the wooden beads separately as toys. Stringing beads improves fine motor skills and manual dexterity.

5. Wooden Cutting Fruit Crate

My two-year old charge loves this wood cutting fruit crate which includes a wooden knife and seven pieces of sliceable fruit that can be cut into a total of seventeen pieces. Velcro holds the pieces of fruit together so when the child cuts the food it makes a fun "crunch" sound when sliced. With so many pieces, it's also a great way to introduce the concepts of part, whole, and fractions to young children.

6. Melissa and Doug Stacking Construction Vehicles

These three chunky, wooden construction vehicles, packaged as a set, include an ambulance, a fire truck, and a police care. Each vehicle has a freewheeling base and is constructed of solid wood stacking parts. The trucks can be taken apart and rebuilt again and again. These trucks are great for developing fine motor skills, building cognitive memory, and inspiring creative and imaginative play.

7. Deluxe Pound and Roll Tower

For kids two-years-old and up, this classic pounding toy has been taken to new "towering" heights at over 10-inches high! Kids can pound the four brightly colored balls through the tower's holes, then watch and listen as they roll down the ramps. There is a sturdy wooden hammer included. Incredible value and superior craftsmanship make this item a childhood favorite. Brightly colored, smooth-sanded pieces help build early shape, color, and size differentiation skills.

8. Pounding Bench

What kid doesn’t love this classic toy made from one of the best wood toy makers in the world?  The brightly colored, smooth-sanded pieces help build early shape, color, and size differentiation skills. There are eight wooden pegs to pound into the wooden bench, then flip it over to repeat again and again! The sturdy wooden hammer is also included.

9. Melissa and Doug Shape, Model, and Mold

I don’t know any kid that doesn’t love playing with dough. Modeling dough is the perfect medium for hours of imaginative fun. This set includes five easy-grip, wooden stamping cubes, three rolling pins, four modeling dough tubs with molding lids, and a patterned wheel press.

10. Melissa and Doug Wooden Family Doll Set

This wooden family doll set contains seven wooden play figures with flexible limbs. The family includes a grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, daughter, son, and baby.

Click here for best puzzles to give as gifts too!

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