“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” ~Fred Rogers
Your kids may be more tuned in to Daniel Tiger than Mr. Rogers, but the sage, children’s TV personality’s words still hold true. Children learn about the world around them through play, and that couldn’t be better news for Santa. It means that some of the funnest gifts are going to be the ones with massive opportunities for learning.
To save your budget, here are four educational children’s gifts for Christmas, all for under $50:
Recommended for ages 3 and up, this fishing rod set will set your child’s mathematical reasoning on fire. They can count the fish, sequence them, sort and categorize according to color, order them from biggest to smallest or visa versa, or have a timed competition to see who catches the most. Watch out, Kindergarten!
On top of the math skills, your child will be working on motor skills as they maneuver the rod to magnetically attract the fish. The best part? It’s super fun. They won’t even know they’re learning.
Where you can get it: Melissa and Doug
Deals: 20% off
This DIY shampoo kit is recommended for ages 8 and up. Not only will the kids get to put their math skills to the test as they mix their cleansing concoctions, but they’ll also get to learn some hard science. What makes hair curly vs. straight? What makes it shiny? How does hair color work? As you play with this toy together, odds are you’ll learn a little something, too.
Price: Normally $19.95
Where you can get it: Imagination Toys
Deals: Now 45% off—$10.97
Coordination and strategy are put to the test in this old-feeling, yet oh-so-new game. It is reminiscent of backgammon, if backgammon were played with marbles on a rocking board.
The game board is a seesaw that sits on a rounded base, so it’s always apt to move up and down. The top of the board is gridded, and the goal is to move four of your marbles from the center to your own designated edge. You roll a die to see how many spaces you’ll get to move, but you have to be careful that the board doesn’t rock too hard; if any part of it touches the table, you automatically lose!
This gift is great for critical thinking skills, as well as visual perception.
Where you can get it: Marbles The Brain Store
Deals: 10% off & free shipping when you sign up, free gift wrap with any purchase, Buy 2 Get 1 50% off
Making geography fun is difficult. It’s often taught through rote memorization. This globe sets itself apart. It’s white, with outlines of each country and ocean. Kids can either color it in with the included erasable markers, or have fun labeling each country. Want some added education? Sit down with them and discuss a little bit about the culture of each country, pulling out your smart phone if necessary. That will help them place the stickers!
Where you can get it: Toys R Us
Deals: Free Shipping on orders $19+