Christmas Gifts for the Little Explorer

By | November 24, 2011

Though it feels to me still that it’s only late summer, my right brain knows that with Thanksgiving’s  passing, any parent with a shred of sense needs to have a plan either in place or soon to be put into place regarding Xmas gifts.

Even if you choose to give your child a pile of cardboard boxes (which by the way I think they’d love, especially if it came with markers or paints), now is the time to be thinking about what’s up.

So, with that in mind, and since you’re visiting a site about getting kids to enjoy being outdoors, here are five quick thoughts for gifts that will get your kids out exploring over the winter break instead of just sitting at the window and wondering what lies outside their four walls. This list will focus on gifts of unusual size, rather than stocking stuffers. That’ll be another post.

So, without further ado, here’s some ideas that won’t fully bust the bank, but will last for awhile, too.

  1. Snowshoes.  Tubbs and Atlas are major brands. (NO, they aren’t paying us anything at all—just what I know).  For little toddler’s snowshoes, expect to pay under $30. For more serious adolescent models, just under $100. These not only allow them in areas that would normally be inaccessible due to deep snow, but also teaches them  about flotation and allows a fantastic lesson on why the heck these things can work the way they do.  Also consider that they could make junior feel like a superhero while mom or dad looks like a fool, postholing in the snow.  This is a good thing!
  2. Trail-a-bike.  If you are having a rather dry winter, and your kid is at a stage like my daughter, where she can ride but isn’t making any long trips yet, consider one of these an investment in the future for both of you. He or she won’t ride with you forever, but while they’re learning to ride by themselves, this can also be teaching them about how a little speed feels and how the bike can provide a great adventure on the trails or taking a ride to the coffee shop for some nice hot chocolate. Begin by looking at your local bike shop. This is perhaps the nicest one made, but they are also available at Target (and they won’t be riding it forever, y’know; I’m just sayin’).
  3. Balance Bikes.  But say you have a smaller child, who doesn’t yet ride a bike, these are the best thing in the world. It is worth reading my post about teaching kids to ride bikes to understand why I think they’re so awesome. Suffice to say confidence is a huge force in kids learning, and they begin learning almost immediately with these. Like #2, they are available across the whole range of prices, so don’t let the link scare you away. Finally, though we are talking about Christmas presents and everyone has sepia-toned romantic associations with the holiday, may I also remind you that after your toddler learns to ride, these durable learning tools can be passed down to cousins and friends ad infinitum.
  4. Trust.  For the older child (we’re talking pre-teen) consider gifts that will last a long time and show how much you trust and respect them. I’m thinking an axe or knife; there could be other choices to consider that only you can imagine. The idea remains the same though—a gift that tells them you’re putting some trust in them and believe that they are worthy of it.
  5. Inside/Outside.  Finally, there are the gifts they use inside that somehow drive them outside. A microscope. Or how about a telescope?  (guess you don’t use this inside unless you’re in Rear Window but it naturally leads from a microscope). And when we talk about these two, we have to mention binoculars. These are really sort of a macr0-microscope, right? They bring in nature so you can see its details, but in a larger sense than a microscope does. Come to think of it, some binocs and a bird feeder would be an awesome outdoor gift you could use while warm and toasty! (Be aware most Home Depots have a pretty nice bird-feeding section.)
Hope these ideas spark other in your mind, if they don’t directly speak to you.  And I hope this will help you get this stuff figured out early and in a way that inspires you, so that the holidays can be a time of peace instead of stress.

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