Milwaukee Edition

Beyond Toys

Gifts that Evoke Kids’ Creativity

YuryImaging/Shutterstock.com

Choosing thoughtful gifts for kids can be a challenge, especially when opting for creativity over this year’s hot toy. It’s possible to find gifts that appeal to both parent and child, involving the whole family or working as solo projects. Some expand beyond the boundaries of home.

Go Robo

The Tinkering Kit will have boys and girls, moms and dads all clamoring for their turn to build a robot that does more than merely walk. Challenge cards urge kids to make a machine to scramble an egg or build a robot that moves without wheels. Robotics teaches science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics, also known as STEAM learning. Computer programming is the last step.

Language for a Lifetime

Benedict Beckeld, Ph.D., of New York City, speaks 11 languages and teaches students via online video chats (Skype). Locally, find teachers or grad students to tutor a second or third language at home for the whole family. Search online for interactive, game-like classes that maintain a child’s interest. American Sign Language, the fourth-most-used language in the U.S., is fun to learn and helpful to know.

Budding Foodies

Take a quiz, experiment, learn more and find kid-approved recipes at AmericasTestKitchen.com/kids/home. Kids learn to make sriracha-lime popcorn, hummus, and chicken and broccoli stir fry. Use organic and non-GMO (not genetically modified) ingredients. Sign up to receive recipes and tips for hands-on activities via email to keep good meals coming. The onsite equipment reviews help with selection of affordable and safe kitchen tools.

Emerging Artistry

Carolyn Dube, a mixed-media art adventurer in Batesville, Indiana, gives her followers at AColorfulJourney.com permission to play and even make mistakes. “My free online workshop shows ways to use found items like recycled cardboard to make art,” she says. For kid-safe paints, look for the Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc. (ACMI) seal that certifies products are non-toxic and properly labeled. Certified Arteza-brand acrylic premium paints are packaged in less-waste pouches to use as-is or to refill original containers.

The Danish company Sprout Pencils, operating from Boston, engraves quotes on biodegradable Love Pencils, which contain flower or vegetable seeds. When it’s too short to write or color with, plant it. In Cleveland, Faber-Castell USA makes their colored pencils from re-forested wood with an ergonomic, triangular shape, perfect for learning the proper grip. The Young Artist Essentials Gift Set contains eco-pencils, non-toxic crayons and oil-pastels.

DickBlick.com offers hundreds of free lesson plans for art lovers of all ages, skill levels and interests, all designed to meet the National Standards for Visual Art Education.

Memorable Experiences

Erica Hartwig, director of operations at Organic Moments Photography, in Boca Raton, Florida, has five children. “I want to give a memorable experience, rather than a toy that will sit in their rooms,” she says. “Football season tickets, dance lessons, an art class or vacations supplement the packages under the tree.”

Crystal Bowe, a mom and physician in Belmont, North Carolina, suggests gifting memberships to encourage new activities for kids. “The zoo is fun and allows parents to spend quality time with their children. Tickets to a movie or a play stimulate the imagination.” Museums, science centers and area attractions are other inviting options.

More Ideas

Wonder Crate, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, offers a monthly subscription service. “We inspire kids to think big and make a difference,” says co-founder Corrie Wiedmann. “Each month brings a box that educates, entertains and empowers kids to contribute to the world. Our December crate highlights Leonardo da Vinci and focuses on ways kids can use innovation to help others, spotlighting a kid that created an app to help people with disabilities.”

Maple Landmark, in Middlebury, Vermont, a wooden products company, makes puzzles that include an activity clock for toddlers and bookends featuring a fire truck, pirate ship, school bus or train tunnel. Owner Mike Rainville says, “We work hard to ensure that all of our wood is sustainably harvested and finishes are safe and non-toxic.”

Gifts that engage the mind, spark imagination and deliver fun yield immediate and long-term benefits, including being fondly remembered.


Connect with Sandra Murphy at StLouisFreelanceWriter@mindspring.com.

 

BOOKS THAT HOOK YOUNG READERS

Books for kids can be the ultimate gift that keeps on giving. Here are some favorites.

The Nocturnals is a critically acclaimed, middle-grade series for readers that love animals, adventure and a hint of mystery. Written by film director and author Tracey Hecht, the books also relate to elementary school children, covering bullying, confidence, friendship and self-acceptance. The free reading kit via NocturnalsWorld.com includes activities.

As a mom with a career, Crystal Bowe recommends Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women. “My daughter loves it and has been introduced to amazing female role models.”

Noah the Narwhal, A Tale of Downs and Ups, by Judith Klausner, is a brightly illustrated picture book about friendship and invisible disability.

What Do You See on Chanukah? is a board game book for toddlers by Bracha Goetz.

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt, by Kate Messner, shows kids that plants are more than what’s seen above ground.

Hello, Hello, by Brendan Wenzel, a picture book for ages 3 to 6, celebrates animals, including 30 endangered species.


Photo credit: Evgeniia Trushkova/Shutterstock.com


This article appears in the December 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Fight Back Naturally When Allergies Put the Bite on Pets

Because they’re built lower to the ground, our dogs and cats can pick up seasonal allergens on fur from grass, weeds, pollen, lawn chemicals and fleas.

Saving a Drop to Drink

Fresh water supplies are dwindling globally, including in the U.S., yet we can do things on a personal level to help hold onto this finite resource.

Air Care for Kids

Kids are especially sensitive to the pollen, chemicals, dust mites, mold and pet dander that cause allergies, but simple strategies can keep these culprits in check.

Celebrate Wisconsin Farm Living with SOIL SISTERS

This summer, meet Wisconsin’s inspiring community of women farmers championing local food and family farms through SOIL SISTERS: A Celebration of Wisconsin Farms & Rural Life, August 2 through 4.

National Guild of Hypnotists Certification Program

Practicing consulting hypnotist Keridak Silk will lead a National Guild of Hypnotists certification program on select Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays from 1 to 6 p.m., April 6 through June 6, at Universal Awareness Fellowship, in Menomonee Falls.

Be Reiki Hosts Weekend Intensive

Reiki master teacher Rhiana Tehan will lead a weekend reiki intensive from 5 to 9 p.m., March 15, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., March 16.

White Conch Dharma Center Presents Mind-Calming Workshop

Join Domo Geshe Rinpoche, Buddhist Lama of the Tibetan Tradition, for Stages of Spiritual Development and Using Mantra to Calm the Mind.

Renew Holistic Wellness Now Open

Renew Holistic Wellness, a new natural care center offering thermography services, colon hydrotherapy, integrative nutrition, health coaching and reiki, has opened, by appointment only, in Milwaukee’s Mitchell International Airport neighborhood.

Sacred Sound Yoga Introduces Milwaukee to Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini yoga, known as the Yoga of Awareness, Path of the Sun, is an integrative, simultaneous practice of the eight limbs of yoga as well as all 108 forms of yoga, thus recognized as the fastest path of transformation and enlightenment.

Meet Community Supported Agriculture Farmers at Local Farmer Open House

Community supported agriculture, a model in which consumers buy a share of a farm’s harvest each growing season and get direct access to their fresh, locally grown produce, fosters connections between farmers and consumers while encouraging ecologically sound farming practices.

Summer Children’s Classes for Spiritual Enrichment

Center for Well-Being Lake Country is launching a new series of classes for children and adults interested in creating a spiritually enriched life.

Letter from Publisher

Food waste is beginning to garner attention recently, as its link to worldwide food insecurity and environmental damage increasingly comes into focus.

Add your comment: