Here is a short list of recommended Christmas presents for children by age. These are toys or games that encourage children to use their imaginations, to play actively and in general support their learning at their given age.
Age 0-2 years
At this age, children are learning rapidly and constantly updating what they know about the world through their sensory experiences (especially through vision, sound and through their mouths). This, and teething, is why your baby is constantly putting things in their mouth.
Many of the toys you remember from your childhood are actually wonderful, developmentally appropriate toys that promote learning. Remember those stacking rings with the pole? Babies learn about different sizes, ordering by size and stacking through playing with this activity. (http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/80021008/) The ball with the different shape cut-outs and matching pieces? Again, learning about sizes, shapes, fine motor skills, colour. (http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/80163229/ or http://www.toysrus.ca/product/index.jsp?productId=11756885)
Dolls and stuffed animals are also great. There are some great boy and girl dolls out there now, in case Daddy is a little nervous about giving his son a doll. (http://www.fatbraintoys.com/toy_companies/madame_alexander/stinky_kids_12_inch_doll.cfm)
The Musical Inchworm by Lamaze (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/toys/Musical-Inchworm/796714271071-item.html?ikwsec=Toys) has a variety of textures and sounds for your baby to explore.
Other ideas to consider:
-building blocks (http://www.toysrus.ca/product/index.jsp?productId=4175734)
-balls, wagons, push-tricycles and other toys that promote muscle development (http://www.toysrus.ca/product/index.jsp?productId=11636488)
-simple, repetitive board books (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/Brown-Bear–Friends-Board-Book-Gift-Set/9780805082739-item.html?ref=item_page:richrel)
-simple puzzles (http://www.toysrus.ca/product/index.jsp?productId=11726663)
Children continue to learn through sensory experiences, but they also begin to learn through social experiences at this age. Make-believe play is essential at this age. Toys that encourage children to use their imaginations or that offer more than one possible use are beneficial to problem-solving and creativity.
Here are some suggestions to get you thinking:
-imaginative play: (http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/categories/series/11674/)
-craft materials: (http://www.crayola.com/products/list.cfm?categories=PAINT,Finger%20Paint)
-stories with predictable phrasing, rhyme, repetition (http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/If-You-Give-Dog-Donut-Laura-J-Numeroff/9780060266837-item.html?ref=by-shop%3akid%3akids-age-category-preschoolers%3aIndigokid-Gift-Guide-Preschoolers%3a13)
-board games (http://www.mastermindtoys.com/Candy-Land.aspx)
-Dolls, cars, trucks, dinosaurs, etc.
-dress-up materials (http://teachers.scholarschoice.ca/products/Dramatic-Play-491/Dress-Up-2592/)
Early School Years (Grades 1-3)
Kids at this age like reading from familiar series, such as the Rainbow Fairies, Scaredy Squirrel, Geronimo Stilton and Robert Munsch books. It is harder to satisfy children at this age with just any toy because peer pressure sets in and they inevitably want the “cool toy”. Try to balance out the “cool” toy fad items with some suggestions from below. Kids at this age are love to create, are very social and have interests that are a bit more set in their ways i.e. sports, science, crafts, dress-up. Social skills are an important area of development at this age, which can be easily reinforced at home through board games and story time. Remember the basic principle while looking for a toy: can be used in a variety of ways and encourages development.
Junior Grades (4-6)
These children are much more particular about what they want, so I’m only going to list a few series of books that I recommend.
-Percy Jackson Series by Rick Riordan (ties in nicely to gr.5 social studies content about Ancient Civilizations)
-Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan (also ties in to gr.5 social studies content about Ancient Civilizations
-Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
-Adventures of Tintin by Herge
-Diary of a Wimpy Kid
I also suggest anything non-fiction that currently has your child’s attention. Popular topics for this age range: robotics, animals, environment, space, castles, myths and legends