presentblogpic.jpgHave a child on your gift list?
They seem to come without warning — birthdays, holidays, religious occasions and all manner of other moments when you want to buy a gift for a special youngster in your life. Of course, many children would love to get their hands on the latest device or trendy toy, but we at GEMS World Academy-Chicago know that parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles, etc., would like to give gifts that are stimulating as well as fun — gifts that spark creativity, curiosity and imagination.
With that in mind, we've compiled a list of potential gifts to consider for your loved one. There are fun items here for budding scientists, as well as those who enjoy words and language. And plenty of other ideas, as well.
Enjoy your shopping!


Fun with science

• Schools place a growing emphasis on artificial intelligence, and nationwide robotics competitions are becoming an important aspect of academic life. You can start younger children off early with charming robot-related toys such as Cubelets. These powerful magnetic blocks can be snapped together in different configurations to make various types of robots, and they are compatible with Legos for infinite building possibilities. To explore extensive robotics options at every sophistication level, browse the Robot Kit offerings at Scientifics Direct.
• Microscopes can open up unseen worlds to your child, sowing the seeds of a lifelong interest in science. There are a range of microscopes on the market, including this one from Mindware, which will likely provide a richly satisfying experience for your budding scientist.
• Science experiment kits are available at every price point, so it shouldn't be hard to find one for the science-lover on your list. Scientific Explorer offers a selection of inexpensive kits ranging from the Glow in the Dark Fun Lab to a DIY Liquid Kaleidoscope. Each kit has a suggested age range to help parents choose the right level of complexity. For kits with more sophisticated equipment and options, Scientifics Direct has a best-in-class chemistry experiment kit for the 10-years-and-older set.
• GoldieBlox creates award-winning toys that engage girls in STEM activities, especially engineering. Toys include construction kits and action figures that build spatial skills, teach engineering principles (torque, lever, momentum, and propulsion), and boost confidence in problem-solving.


Mazes and puzzles

Create-a-Maze, by Learning Resources, was named 2015 Game of the Year by Creative Child Magazine and was recommended by Parents' Choice in 2015. This open-ended game engages all ages from 5 years old to adults, and is designed to build concentration, hand-eye coordination, and problem-solving skills. Thinkfun's Gravity Maze offers more complex challenges, using a game grid, marbles, and challenge cards. MakerStudio Winches Set is an award-winning combination of a puzzle and building toy, designed by engineers for youngsters who have an itch to truly understand mechanical principles.

Word play

• For children who love building with words instead of gears or blocks, a new game has attracted Silver Honors from Parents' Choice. Play on Words can be played by individuals or teams and requires no setup or game board. Another well-loved classic in the word category is Magnetic Poetry, which continues to roll out new kits in an ever-growing list of themes.


• Games have been stretching young minds forever, but today's offerings display unprecedented innovation. The Parents' Choice gold medal-winning game is a charming offering called Bugs in the Kitchen — a game for up to four people of all ages. This addictive game demands strategy and logic as players direct an actual robotic bug on paths around a playing board. For something completely different, nurture mathematical thinking with the fast-paced logic game Dimension.


• In an increasingly digital world, there's novelty in receiving "snail mail" and packages right at your doorstep. For children who love surprises and want to learn more about the world, there's Little Passports. This monthly box subscription offers three age-appropriate packages for children 3-12 to explore world themes, countries, and culture. Each box will contain souvenirs, maps, activities, postcards, and more — all packaged in a world traveler's mini suitcase.

It's important to provide young people with challenges that engage their hands and their social skills as well as their minds. We hope this list sparked some ideas for gifts that can open your child's mind to a future rich with potential.

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