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For Grandparents – How to Pick a Great Christmas Present by guest blogger Louise Robertson, Heirloom Wooden Toys

November 24, 2010
Imagiplay CircleBlocks with activity cards offered by Heirloom Wooden Toys

Imagiplay CircleBlocks with activity cards offered by Heirloom Wooden Toys

When our first grandchild was born 16 years ago and I entered this new stage in my family’s development, I started to think about “how can Nana and Papa impact our grandchildren’s lives especially as we don’t see them that often?”  Certainly, there’s the love and hugs and making memories when we’re together.  There are telephone calls and holiday visits.  But, what about every day?  I wanted to help our children nurture their children into thinking, caring, creative adults – just as we think we have (we hope!) with our own kids.  I thought back on my own childhood and my own parenting and decided that the one obvious answer was to start the grandchildren off right by giving them toys that met my unscientific criteria and allowed our grandchildren the freedom to form their own ideas, practice skills, and use playthings at their own speed.

Long-term, creative play value means to me that the product doesn’t just do one thing and can appeal to more than one stage of development.  Wooden blocks come to mind immediately.  Ours are now in their second generation; Will, Dave’s boy, now builds with his dad.  Ours were simple squares, rectangles, and triangles, like the blocks from GuideCraft  or Beka.  But look at the other shapes available:  Circle rainbow blocks , tree blocks, arches and tunnels, and giant building blocks.  Other ideas include simple dolls, play furniture  (especially play kitchens where virtually all children learn to help), and puzzles.

Simplicity means that the child has the freedom to form their own ideas about things – so not too obviously decorated, for example a truck could deliver tools or people or bread.  The doll might become a mother after spending yesterday as a baby. Even though it’s called an “elephant,” might the Push n Pull elephant also be a puppy or a tiger or even the caboose on a pull train? Many of the available kitchen accessories  fit this bill. Granddaughter Marion (just 3) sips tea happily from her cup – mimicking Mom, learning table manners, and trying not to slurp.

Thinking and problem solving includes so many possibilities.  I’d like to focus on games for this – checkers, Monopoly, Risk, and Boggle are old favorites. But, have you played  Spot-It?  Eye-hand coordination, visual concentration, and lots of laughs across the generations!  However, any manipulative toy that helps develop sorting, sequencing, classification, and other skills  falls in this category.

As time passed, I added to my unscientific list of criteria that the best toys did not have batteries or cords or any connection to television or movies or video games.  If there’s a common thread, it’s that the child must have the opportunity to make his or her own meaning from the toy.  It helps them make meaning from life.

If you are looking to buy a gift or toy for your child or grandchild, think of Heirloom Wooden Toys where we provide sustainable, safe wooden toys, games and furniture that will last for generations to come.  You can shop by Age, Price, Brand, or just browse hundreds of products for all kinds of kids.  Many of our products are Made in the USA so you can support businesses that are keeping jobs at home.  Looking for custom products?  We have a large selection of items that can be personalized or engraved with your name or message.  Free Shipping on orders over $99!  Contact Kitty Robertson Morse at or (866) 202-8073.

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