Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Nurture Your Family - Great Gifts For Kids

Whether you are a parent, an aunt, cousin, or friend, most of us have at least a couple kids on our lists this year. As I started shopping for my daughter a few weeks ago, I realized how much fun it is to find the perfect gift for a little one.  Browsing through games and dolls brought back so many memories of my childhood and my favorite toys (a Barbie pool, sidewalk chalk, Cabbage Patch Kids and my record player).  Whatever a kid's interest (sports, art, science, etc.), there is something out there that is tailor-made for him or her.  I've found many of the best gifts are only available online, so it is time to get shopping! Enjoy!

Take it Easel by B. Toys, $17.99, Target
This two-sided art center is a dry-erase board on one side and a chalkboard on the other. It easily folds into a tabletop easel and there is a handle and storage inside for markers and chalk.  It is made to travel and easy to just wipe-off and start over again.  Also included are 10 washable markers. Ages 2 and up.

Just Being Audrey, By Margaret Cardillo, $11.55,

This beautifully illustrated book for Grades 1-3 chronicles the wonderful life of Audrey Hepburn, from her roots growing up in WW-II era Europe, through her entertainment career, to her humanitarian good deeds with UNICEF.  With references to how she was "different" than the other children and grew up being teased that her eyes were too big for her head, it is also a story about embracing our differences and perseverance.  My daughter isn't even two and can't read, but I know she will love all the beautiful pictures and I'll read her this wonderful story about an incredible and graceful woman.

Doorway Puppet Theater, $49.98, Hearth Song.

Instead of adding another clunky piece of furniture to your house, this puppet theater fits in any doorway and automatically becomes a stage for kids to perform.  Growing up, we made puppets from brown paper lunch bags and then did our shows while squatting behind a table covered with a sheet.  I always had a blast and my sister and I loved doing shows for my parents.  This is another great gift to foster creativity and imagination!  Ages 2 and up.

Dino Dig and Build, $19.99,

I've loved dinosaurs since I can remember and for most of grammar school, I was certain I was going to be a paleontologist.  Both girls and boys will love this kit, which requires that the kids excavate the fossils from the plaster cast and then mount them on the enclosed stands.  Each kit comes with two dinosaurs and includes two sets of excavation tools.  A great gift for siblings to share! Ages 6 and up.  Also checkout for many more imaginative gifts for kids.

30 piece Fashion Design Kit, $34.98,

I would have loved to have had this as a kid and now I just have to find a friend to give it to! This 30 piece set comes with everything a girl needs to start her fashion design career - a sketch pad, mannequin, several dresses for her to embellish, and all the supplies necessary for her to try her hand at sewing.  Ages 9 and up.

Wooden Alphabet Blocks (available in several languages), $42,

With all the plastic, made in China toys on the shelves now, it is becoming rarer and rarer to find good quality, handcrafted wooden toys like the ones many of us had growing up.  This set of blocks is from my favorite toy store in New York - Acorn in Brooklyn.  Visiting the store is a treat because it is filled with beautifully crafted toys from around the world that are heirloom quality and unique.  This set of blocks is painted with non-toxic ink and comes in a number of different languages. All ages.

Rockabye Baby Lullaby Renditions, $13.97, 

Before I had my daughter I stumbled onto this series while trying to find "cool" kids music.  We now have 5 different CD's from this series that we play for her as we wind down at the end of the day.  The series has now expanded to include Pearl Jam, Bon Jovi, Madonna, Bob Marley, Nirvana (our favorite!), The Beatles, Weezer, Smashing Pumpkins, Kayne West, Green Day, Pink Floyd, The Ramones, The Cure and the Eagles (there are many, many more!).  A perfect gift for any 2011 baby!

Eye Can Art, Collage Print Making Kit, $25.95,

Encouraging kids to find their inner artist is a great gift to give and this collage print making kit by Eye Can Art does just that. This kit shows kids how to make paper collages and then make prints from them with colorful inks, similar to many of the pieces of art at the Met. There are enough materials included for 9 prints, including a tag board, glue stick, crayons, scissors, printing ink, colored papers and instructions. Ages 8 and older.

Schoenhut Accoustic Guitar, $45.95,

For the kid who loves to sing and dance, this beginner guitar by Schoenhut is made with high-quality wood and is the perfect size for young children who are just being introduced to playing an instrument.  It's tunable and it comes with a guitar strap, carrying case, extra strings and a guitar pick.  It comes in Natural or Pink and is for Ages 4-10.

The Shape of Things Puzzle, $19.95 + Free Shipping,

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