Top 10 Non Electronic Gifts and Toys for Kids

by spirituality

If you're as tired as I am of seeing kids stare at screens, here are some toys that will get them actually doing something, touching something - aka relating to the world out there

I'm pretty serious. On a fine day there is still hardly a kid playing outside in our neighborhood. Where are they all hiding? It's a safe neighbourhood, with plenty of playgrounds and well kept lawns yet the kids are inside behind their tvs and gameboys. It can't be good for them. I'm not against electronic toys per-se, it's just: for a well rounded development, kids also need to feel things, move things around in the real world, do more than just type with their fingers.

1) Drawing and Crafting Gifts

I do a lot of my artistic dabbling on my iPad these days, so I may seem a bit hypocritical advocating simple crayons. However, as I said in my introduction, children need to actually feel stuff. Adults do too, in fact, for our emotional health.

For children however it's not merely about integrating sensory motor functions - it's also simply about learning about the world they live in. How does it feel to hold a crayon? How is it different from a pen? How does the paper feel? Why does crayon look different on different types of paper? What does it feel like to touch the crayon, the paper itself, etc.? 

For my generation those are trivial questions, precisely because we grew up with those experiences. For a generation growing up behind screens these things are not quite so trivial. 

Let your kids experience the real thing, not just the electronic simulation. However much your table may suffer for it. 

As a kid I did a lot of crafting and I think it's the reason my ceramics are quite decent, given that I've only just started... If I may say so myself. And where does crafting start, if not with play doh? 

2) Playing in water...

In my day we used inner tubes to float down streams. Do they still do that? This is the slightly safer alternative... 

The theme is familiar: allow your children the experience of actual water and the challenges of navigating a real life stream. They'll grow up more responsible for it. 

I've really enjoyed playing in water as a child and as a teen too. I loved sailing and rowing especially, but inner tubing was a lot of fun as well. 

Having fun in the swimming pool, a stream or on a (calm, shallow) lake
Intex River Run I Sport Lounge, Inflatable Water Float, 53" Diameter

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Group games for kids of all ages, from pre-school to teens.
Spot It

There is always one, and only one, matching symbol between any 2 cards in this party game. Spot it and you win! A sharp eye and a little bit of speed is all it takes to become a...

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The Settlers of Catan

One of the most successful games of all time, Settlers of Catan is a trading and building game set in the mythical world of Catan.

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Rory's Story Cubes

Rory's Story Cubes is a pocket-sized creative story generator, providing hours of imaginative play for all ages. There are infinite ways to play with Rory's Story Cubes - Try th...

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Cards Against Humanity: First Expansion

The first official expansion for Cards Against Humanity, featuring 80 brand-new white cards, 20 brand-new black cards, and, for the first time, blank cards which will allow you ...

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Qwirkle Board Game

32016 Features: -Board game.-This is a creative multi-maneuver game play of Scrabble.

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Ticket To Ride

October 2, 1900 - it's 28 years to the day that noted London eccentric, Phileas Fogg accepted and then won a bet that he could travel "Around the World in 80 Days." Now, at the ...

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3) Group and Family Games

I remember playing bridge, Monopoly, Risk and other games regularly as a child and young adult. Card games, family games... What was a late night without them when camping or on Christmas Eve? 

Group games help develop a sense of community. They foster friendly competition and unlike pc games they do so with people being in the same room. That means using actual words and non-verbal communication to communicate. It's self evident for my generation, but when you see kids around their gameboys sometimes it's really as though they're not learning such skills. 

4) Lego and other construction toys

Starting at pre-school, construction toys can keep kids interested way into Middle School

I grew up on blocks, lego and playmobile. We had fun building towers, trying out how stuff worked and fitting complicated pieces together.

The educational value of such things is immense. Kids learn to use their fingers for fine work, their technical and mathematical (spatial) insight will improve and fighting over pieces they'll learn to work together. You may not be aware of it, but there is Lego is not just for boys, there is Lego for girls as well. Not that I needed that as a young girl myself ;)

5) Toys to chew on for babies

Educational in the simple sense that infants need to touch everything to explore their world
Manhattan Toy Winkel Rattle & Sensory Teether Toy, Blue/Green/Orange, 5 Inch x 4 Inch x 3.5 Inch

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6) Baby's first blocks

I have a vague memory of trying to fit blocks in something similar to this. Infants and toddlers have to explore the world and in doing so will learn the first basics of how things in this world work. That a square peg won't go in a round hole, for instance. 

Playing with mom's iPhone won't teach them this. 

7) Playing outdoors, or at least with a ball and dad

This is advertised as a great way for kids to start learning to hit a ball. And yes, it will help with their hand-eye coordination. You want your kids to play ball later on don't you? Well, it will help if they start early. 

I was never very good at sports and the only sport I was not a complete embarrassment in was the one we did practice a bit at home: soccer. 

Playing at baseball... Toddlers through pre-school
Little Tikes TotSports T-Ball Set

A Little Tikes toy is always a great investment. However, if your child aspires to become the next Alex Rodriguez or Ryan Howard, then the T Ball Set is the perfect choice. The ...

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8) Playing with stickers

It's not as low tech as you may expect on this page, but on the other hand stickers are an old classic: they existed when I was a kid.

Stickers make a great low-priced and yet popular reward for children. I think it's the magic of pictures. This reusable sticker features five scenes and a total of 150 stickers so children can host stories in those scenes. 

Low tech play - stimulating their fantasy. 

For kids aged 3, 4 or 5. Do read the reviews before ordering: caterpillars are living beings and won't arrive alive if you don't.
Insect Lore Birthday Butterfly Garden | Butterfly Growing Kit with Live Caterpillars | 5 Caterpil...

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9) Raising your own animals / insects

What's more exiting than experimenting with nature? I remember liking the school experiment of growing a bean. Imagine how much more exiting it would be for your children to grow their own ... butterflies! 

Of course getting a pet can be equally educational. I guess the advantage of butterflies is that they are

  1. alive (though you should apparently take care about when to order them)
  2. you won't feel like you have to step in if your child doesn't feed them properly... 

That was the reason my parents didn't allow us a pet when we were young: they were afraid they'd end up feeding it. With insects you may not feel obligated to keep them alive. 

10) Dolls and Plush Gifts

Dolls and plush animals may become less popular, but they'll never go totally out of style. 

This year's fad is the Monster High series of dolls. And this series brings dolls back into the world of teen girls. Who would have thought it! I even found you a collection of stuffed animals aimed at boys

Tangram Fox
Tangram Fox

BONUS - Puzzles and Pattern Games

I grew up with Tangram - because of my mathematician of a dad. I loved it as a puzzle and it is only later that I started to see how educational it had been: it taught me about angles, symmetry and other geometric concepts. 

He also challenged me with 3D puzzles.

More puzzles and games

Popular dolls right now
Melissa & Doug Brianna - 12" Doll

Your little one will fall in love with the Melissa and Doug Mine to Love 12in Brianna Doll! This huggable, soft-bodied baby doll can sit up and suck on her thumb, or the include...

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Monster High Robecca Steam Doll

Monster High Robecca Steam Doll The Monster High student body continues to grrrow with four new ghouls enrolling this year. Like her fellow classmates, Robecca Steam doll has a ...

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Fun dolls are so the rage this year, it's weird. In fact, it's worse: it's weird dolls that are in fashion. Which is fun...
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Updated: 11/21/2016, spirituality
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