Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Bargainista holiday shopping guide – part 2: school-agers

The first part of Bargainista’s holiday shopping guide focused on teenagers and this installment by Jenny looks at those just a few years younger.

If you have a school-aged child, niece, or nephew, you probably already have some idea of what to get for them – or who to ask. But what to get for the school-ager on your list who you don’t know well? They may be a far-flung relative, or the child of a friend or neighbor, or a friend of your child’s – or perhaps you want to donate a suitable gift to a toy drive and are not sure what kids of this age would like.

Clothes are practical, but boring; and, books, electronic games and DVDs depend a lot on personal taste, their parents’ approval, and what they already might own.

As the parent of a young school-ager (she just finished her first term of grade 1) and aunt of many older kids under 13, I can tell you that what their parents will most appreciate is anything that can fire the imagination and keep them busy at the same time. If it engages their brains and gives me a few minutes of peace, I’m in!

1. DIY kits: There are tonne of cool do-it-yourself kits for the budding scientist at stores like Mastermind. Motion detectors, FM radios, robot bugs!

2. Crafts: Likewise, there are a tonne of crafty things available at most toy stores, like doll-making kits, beading sets, and more. My favorites are the more open-ended kits that include a few wooden items and some paints, or piece of ready-to-frame board with glue and pieces of felt, that really let a kid’s imagination take over.

3. Art Supplies: Most open-ended of all is art supplies! Any art or stationary store will have sketchbooks and colored paper, and most toy stores will have washable markers and colored pencils (very important for the younger kids still working on their fine motor control). Stores like DeSerre have a wide-range of art supplies and craft kits you may not find elsewhere. They also have instructions for lots of age-appropriate crafts on their website.

What’s your favorite way to keep kids busy, or the best gift that keeps them occupied for long periods time?
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