We call them toys because this is the word we use for all the items that kids play with. But learning toys have an educational value attached to them and this sets them apart from the rest. Educational toys nurture curiosity, encourage imagination and creativity and spark kids’ interest in new fields and activities.
Top 12 Learning Gifts for Kids
These 12 ideas are part of the chapter Learning Gifts in my book 120 Non-Toy Gifts for Kids.
I have been blogging for a couple of years and one of my main goals as a blogger has been to research and share non-toy gifts for children. This book compiles the best ideas I came across and I also added many fresh ones that you haven’t read about before.
Be prepared for the holiday season with the best toy alternative gift ideas for your own children and other little ones in your family. Use the book as a reference for birthday gift shopping year around and help your kids create wonderful memories that will stay with them forever.
Read more about the book here.
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1. Microscope. What an intriguing tool to play with! As a kid, I had the opportunity to use a microscope and it was a lot of fun! Everything went on the slides, from bugs and little plants to fabric pieces.
If you plan on getting a microscope for a toddler or a preschooler I would suggest a plastic one as it is lighter and won’t break if it accidentally ends up on the floor. Older kids will appreciate a microscope with glass lenses that can magnify with clarity.
2. Telescope. My oldest has recently started showing an interest in planets and his dad couldn’t be happier. He finally has a buddy to watch the Science channel with. I’m sure they would love to have a telescope and observe the planets on their own.
There are several great quality telescopes made especially for little ones. Young kids will love the Educational Insights telescope (It is actually a combo between a telescope and a slider viewer) that comes with slides and tons of fun facts as well as a quiz. Older kids will appreciate Celestron easy-to-use telescope that has a greater magnification power. This will allow them to get clear and sharp images of the moon, Saturn’s rings and more.
3. Binoculars. Children can use the binoculars to watch for birds or animals, take them along on nature walks or when camping. Binoculars made with optical glass lenses are of better quality and will provide clear and sharp images.
5. Monthly Science Kit. Join The Magic School Bus Science Club and your children can have a science kit delivered to them every month for an entire year. Each kit includes everything them need to complete at least seven experiments related to the month’s theme. (product not longer available)
7. Rock Tumbler. If you have a little boy who likes to collect rocks (show me a boy who hasn’t gone through this phase) he’ll love a rock tumbler. Besides being a fun and educational gift, a rock tumbler will also teach patience as the whole process takes about a month. (It goes through several polish cycles and you get to see the rocks at the end of every 7-day cycle).
8. Stamps. I had an impressive stamp collecting as a kid and it all started with a stamp album that I got for Christmas. I had so much fun growing my stamp collection and trading stamps with friends and neighbors.
9. Coins. Coin collecting is one of the oldest hobbies in the world, started by kings and wealthy people. Coins can be collected in albums, boxes or tubes and a magnifying glass or a stand magnifier is a very useful tool in the study of coins. A coin collector starter kit is an ideal gift for a beginning collector.
10. Watch. When I was little, I received a beautiful solar-powered watch and thought it was the coolest thing ever. A watch helps not only with time-telling but also makes you feel and look confident and independent.
While electronic watches are a nice option, I think that time teacher watches, with easy-to-read numbers and labeled hands make better leaning tools. The GPS watches look interesting, yet a bit on the spendy side. Older kids would definitely appreciate a smart watch that comes with tons of features and can be customized with watch faces and apps to suit each kid’s personal style and interests.
11. View-Master. If you used to own and love a View-Master as a kid, the good news is that they are still around. Sure, new 3D versions are now available but so are the old versions. Kids will discover dinosaurs, space and more.
12. Old Electronics. Old electronics are a great gift for curious boys who would be glad to tear everything apart and see how it works if only mom and dad allowed it. We keep a box with broken radios, baby monitors and others for when our boys are older, as they’re showing an interest in the engineering side. A trip to the thrifty store will help you find all sorts of electronics.