Finding Children’s Holiday Gifts That Are Fun and Educational

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By Leslie C. Halpern


With a little imagination, it’s easy to find gifts that challenge a child’s mind as well as occupy his or her time. Children enjoy playing with stuffed animals, dolls, and action figures, but sometimes they also need diversions that encourage their abilities and challenge their areas of weakness. This helps then develop particular areas of giftedness and improve on the underdeveloped areas to achieve a better balance.


The following list offers suggestions for nurturing particular forms of intelligence through play.


Gifts For Verbal Thinkers


  • Give books that match the child’s intellectual and emotional level. Try books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction (especially about their own ethnic heritage or special interests), plays, crossword puzzles, and illustrated encyclopedias.
  • Board games focusing on words, such as Scrabble, force players to think in order to win. Computer games and other electronic games with word challenges also encourage simultaneous thinking and playing.
  • Consider annual subscriptions to children’s magazines such as Highlights, Ranger Rick, National Geographic Kids, or from a variety of Nickelodeon and Disney


Gifts For Verbally and/or Introspective Thinkers


  • Journals and diaries make nice gifts. Look for interesting covers and decorated pages to hold a child’s attention. Specialty pens and pencils (printed in colors, with a cartoon character, or with the child’s name) enhance the journal or diary.
  • Digital recorders allow children to record their thoughts, feelings, and dreams. Recorders also encourage imaginative games such as making music mixes, pretend radio shows, and reporter interviews.

Gifts For Visual/Spatial Relationship Thinkers


  • In addition to coloring books and watercolor paint sets for young children, buy scrap books, photo albums, picture puzzles, 3-D puzzles, Etch-A-Sketch, books on drawing and artists, movies on DVD, art posters, easel and paints, charcoals, sketch pad, other tools for creating art.
  • Older, more responsible children, will enjoy a video camera or still camera, plus a book on how to use their new equipment or perhaps art classes or private instruction.


Gifts For Musical Thinkers


  • Consider music lessons, a new instrument, sheet music to suit his or her taste, concert or orchestra tickets, or CDs/DVDs of favorite recording artists such as Weird Al Yankovich.


Gifts For Physical/Kinetic Thinkers


  • Buy sporting equipment (bicycle, skateboard, pool table, surf board, roller skates, ice skates, bowling ball, etc.) or electronic sports game, plus games of movement like Twister and Dance Dance Revolution.
  • Other gifts to consider: Lessons in a favorite sport or a jersey from a favorite team; personal training sessions, or tickets to live sporting events; DVD movies about sports teams involving children, e.g. (Pride [competitive swimming], Bad News Bears [baseball], Friday Night Lights [football]).
  • For the physical and/or naturalistic thinker: Purchase a gardening kit with gloves, tools, and seeds.

Gifts For Mathematical Thinkers


  • Children should enjoy anything that uses systems, strategies, and numbers, including intricate puzzles, books of puzzles, mysteries, and brainteasers, an abacus, art-by-numbers. Also consider board games such as chess, Life, Monopoly.
  • Buy toys that require construction including Legos, Lincoln Logs, other linking toys, and model building kits (cars, boats, planes, etc.).
  • Other fun ideas: Toy cash register, electronic games involving numbers, or computer games such as Zoo Tycoon.

Gifts For Interpersonal Thinkers


  • Buy them memberships in organizations, including Young Mensa (if they qualify), local sports teams, arts and entertainment organizations, or scouting.
  • Children might enjoy a specialty telephone in his or her favorite style or color for talking to friends. A decorative telephone and address book can complement the gift.
  • For older and more responsible children, give them a small pet to care for and love.


The most important aspect of gift giving is to consider what makes the recipient happy, rather than caving in to peer pressure from the media or other parents.


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Award-winning poet Leslie C. Halpern is the author of Frogs, Hogs, Puppy Dogs (2014), Shakes, Cakes, Frosted Flakes (2013), and Rub, Scrub, Clean the Tub (2012), all early reader books from Cricket Cottage Publishing. Leslie also writes nonfiction books for adults about the entertainment industry, including her most recent publication: 200 Love Lessons from the Movies (2016). All her books are available on,, and through her website at Find her on Facebook at