An Inly Parent’s Perspective by Rachel Rich
The winter months bring holidays, celebration, family time, and a season of gift giving. Gifting when done with purpose and intention can be a wonderful way to celebrate and communicate our gratitude and love for one another. In an attempt to gift with purpose, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite gift ideas and collected suggestions from Inly teachers to reach all ages. There is bound to be something here to help you out this holiday season.
Toddler House Recommendations (Ages 18m–3)
For the littles in our lives, gifts that encourage open creative play, sorting and organizing, and gross motor development are always a win.
- Nesting toys This adorable Woodland Nesting Set contains five sweet animals (a bear, fox, owl, rabbit, and mouse) that are nested inside one another. Toddlers love discovering treasures and putting things back together. It is great for practicing opening and closing and developing spatial awareness.
- Gross Motor Toys For the active toddlers, Pikler’s triangle is great for indoor movement and development of gross motor skills and hand eye coordination.
- Creative Stimulation Grimm’s large 12-piece rainbow stacker is visually, mentally, and physically stimulating. The wooden rainbow stacker is wonderful for inspiring imagination and can be used for stacking, creating, and color practice. Pieces can be used as bridges, tunnels, fences, and furniture. It’s big!
- Sensory Table Toddlers enjoy exploring their world through tactile stimulation. With a sensory table you can fill it with anything, including water, sand, leaves, grass, dried rice, snow, fabric, seasonal items, and anything else you want your little to explore!
- Instruments Music is great for language, mathematical, and sensory development. A collection of musical instruments will let your little toddler create, mimic, and explore the sounds and rhythms of their world.
Children’s House Recommendations (Ages 3–6)
This fun age is into imaginative play, learning, and exploring their environment. Items that help to build fine motor muscles are also wonderful for this age.
- Sorting Toys This Super Sorting Pie is a fun way for preschoolers to use their fine motor muscles to sort, recognize patterns, and practice their numbers.
- Personalized Stuffy Give your creative preschooler a custom stuffed animal from their imagination. Take your child’s original drawing or painting and have it made into a tangible adorable, soft, and lovable stuffy. Murph & Moose is a local East Boston mom that makes beautiful custom stuffed lovey’s as well as many other “soft, brightly colored toys and notions”. I just love this! Definitely a win for the littles in your life that love to be creative and imaginative and play with their stuffies!
- Pattern Block Sets Melissa & Doug’s Magnetic Pattern Blocks Set is great for creating geometric designs that help set the foundation for deeper geometric thinking as well as using those fine motor muscles to manipulate the shapes into position.
- Creation Cubes Children can create endlessly with these Creation Cubes while also working on hand-eye coordination, spacial skills, and dexterity.
- Classic Blocks A classic gift that will last for years is a simple wooden block set. We gifted this for our children three years ago and they still maintain a regular spot in our family room and are built with several times a week.
- Maker Kits A fun gift idea for the maker in your family or a child who is interested in learning woodworking is the Build it Yourself Woodworking Kit. It includes real tools, over 80 pieces of smooth pine, a lightweight hammer and nails. My son has had his since he was four and is still building with it at age 7!
Lower Elementary Recommendations (Ages 6–9)
This age group is into playing with language, developing an understanding of numbers, and attempting to understand big concepts. Tapping into these zones of development will inspire your child to continue learning & exploring.
- Poetry Tiles Word play is so much fun for kids (all the way up through middle school). Magnetic Poetry Tiles will allow your child endless fun creating phrases, making poems, and practicing their language.
- Graphic Novels Graphic novels have many literacy benefits but I personally love that they are a great bridge from picture books to chapter books. They have a more developed storyline engaging deeper with story elements while still including the visual senses through a comic strip format; great for this age! I really like this collection because it offers a variety of genres and identifies the age appropriateness.
- Classic Games Check off math homework several times a month with some classic games like Yahtzee or Uno!
- Wooden Intelligences Puzzles This Coogam Wooden Tetris Puzzle will engage the child’s problem-solving skills, calm their minds, and strengthen hand-eye coordination.
- Imagination Kits This age still enjoys stacking, creating, and sorting.Jarrby STEM Flowers, a Stacking Peg Board Set , and Klutz kits are all great gifts that are engaging, fun, and purposeful.
- Coin Banks This year we purchased handcrafted wood see through monogram coin banks for each of our children. However, it is our LE child that is very much into counting money and currently working on understanding coins. These custom letter banks are beautifully crafted and accented with bold primary colors. Children will have fun putting their coins in the bank, seeing where they land, and watching their money grow.
Upper Elementary Recommendations (ages 9–11)
This age is growing physically, still into hand-on activities, and becoming more competitive. They enjoy working and playing in groups.
- Board Games UE students have been learning around the board game Suburbia. They know how to play it and love it!
- Tetris Tetris Link is a good alternative to video games! Players drop links called Tetriminos in order to link with same-colored ones while also blocking their opponent! A fun strategy game brought to tangible life!
- Journals Wreck this Journal is a fun way for children to engage in the creative process, letting go of perfection, right, and wrong. It is fun and interactive!
- Belt Display If you have children participating in martial arts, a belt display is a perfect gift. Our son does Jiu-Jitsu and we gave him one of these handcrafted belt displays last year. They are a great way for children to display their belts, celebrate their achievements, and track their progress. A variety of options can be found on Etsy, but this one is my personal favorite because you can choose the number of slots, as well as display earned medals and trophies. (Fun Fact: I think the one pictured is the one we bought!)
- Physical Activity For gifts that encourage physical movement, HearthSong has a wonderful selection including backyard obstacle course kits, stiltz, and indoor curling.
Middle School (and High School) Recommendations (Ages 11–18)
This age is very focused on social relationships, independence, and autonomy.
- Experiences This age benefits from engaging with the bigger outside world. Experiences will go a long way to keep them participating socially, staying physically active, and continuing to broaden their exposures. Tickets to a show, concert, comedian, play, musical, speaker, or exhibition that the adolescent would enjoy and could potentially do with friends is perfect. Yoga and fitness studios often offer class packages. Gift your pre-teen/teen a 10-pack of yoga classes or workouts at a favorite studio like Studio 143 or Juniko. Both studios offer kids/teens aerial yoga. A night out with friends for paint night, sign making or bowling will get your middle schooler out and about in fun and age-appropriate ways.
- Reusable Items With recent focus on sustainability, our adolescents might like sustainable and reusable replacements for things they already use– a reusable Starbucks cup, stainless steel straw, or travel cutlery set.
- Board Games Some adolescents still love board games even as much as their video games. Azul is a newer game to the strategy game market that requires strategic thinking but doesn’t last for hours and hours. Here is a great collection of games that are sure wins for this age – Top Board Games for Teens.
- School Apparel You can’t go wrong gifting school spirit and pride! This year, the Inly School Store has increased their inventory to include full zip-up hooded sweatshirts, fleece joggers, heathered fleece vests, sherpa pullovers, canvas totes, lunch bag coolers, and knit beanies. Most items come in youth XS – adult XXL. Orders can be placed online and items will be shipped directly to your home.
So now that you have a plan moving forward, get out there and get your purposeful, intentional, and gracious shopping on and have some fun! Let us know what your favorite gifts to give are!
About Rachel Rich
Rachel Rich is a Content Writer, Educator, and Inly parent of four children. She possesses a K-12 Reading Specialist license, 5-12 History and ESL teaching license, and a Master of Arts in Special Education. She currently works as an Education, Child Development, and Parenting Content Writer out of her home in Scituate while caring for her four children. This school year, her children span Toddler House through Lower Elementary. Her fifth child is due in late January of 2020! She enjoys reading, writing, yoga, and being a mother and wife.