Thinking Outside The Toy Box:
Functional Gifts For Kids Disguised As Toys
Kids don't have a limit on how many toys they can get for Christmas, but you might have a limit on how many you want them to receive. Plus as their parent, you might be more concerned with how beneficial toys are. Finding useful items that kids want to play with is a tall order. Here are 5 functional gift ideas disguised as toys for your kids.
Indoors or outdoors, tents can be fun for sleep and play. Whether it's in the backyard, in the living room or on their bed, the adventurous idea of sleeping in tents may help get kids to sleep on their own. The National Sleep Foundation reports that about 24% of parents claim kids sleep with them rather than kids sleeping in their own beds. While a tent may not ease the anxiety of sleeping alone, a tent on the floor of the bedroom or on their beds may make going to bed fun enough that they won't want to sleep with mom and dad. In addition to making bedtime fun, they can use a tent as a daytime hideout to play with toys and friends.
While board games and puzzles sharpen the brain, outdoor games teach your child strategic thinking as well as provide exercise. Games like croquet, bags or even a basketball help kids develop gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination while working their muscles and giving them an opportunity to breathe in fresh air. They don't have to be good at sports to benefit and have fun with outdoor games — outdoor games are more about a well-rounded experience than being the type of person with sports decorations in his or her bedroom.
In addition to being fun, arts and crafts trigger activity in the child's brain and enhance cognitive growth. Visual arts like painting, drawing and scrapbooking help the brain with imagery and making visual connections. This aids in storing information in the brain. An art kit or a scrapbook is doing more than just giving children something to do during playtime; it's also giving their brains a workout.
Whether it's a play guitar or a keyboard, the benefits of practicing and playing music are infinite. According to a study out of University of California at Santa Barbara, researchers found just having an interest in performing arts improves children's general motivation — a characteristic they'll use their entire lives. That's on top of aiding in language development, better IQ scores and higher test scores. Musical instruments are the gifts that keep giving well into adulthood.
Kids are fascinated by money, and no matter if it's in the form of a cat, a car, or a football helmet, a piggy bank is an invaluable teaching tool. Putting coins in the bank is one step toward learning the concept of money. Piggy banks are colorful and come in fun shapes which kids are drawn to like cartoons on TV — making it an entertaining container — but they provide a specific place for kids to set aside money that they can later trade for something they value.
When you're buying toys, remember they can be as beneficial as they are fun — you just have to think outside the toy box.