Where To Find The Best Educational Gifts ~
Written by Melissa Camara Wilkins
I love this time of year, when the kids are doing their math by the twinkle lights, with a soundtrack of Christmas carols in the background and the smell of gingerbread in the air. But along with all the holiday magic comes the fact that there’s just a lot going on.
I know some families are dashing to Nutcracker performance rehearsals or Christmas pageant preparations, and others of you are expecting holiday visitors.
Maybe you’re baking cookies for friends and neighbors. Maybe you’re trying to get dinner on the table early enough to light advent candles before little ones fall asleep. Maybe you’re trying to remember where you stored last year’s winter coats, or trying to figure out which winter shoes can be passed down to whom.
There’s a lot to keep track of, even before we add in things like hanging lights and choosing gifts.
I could use a little help with all the details, is what I’m saying. Maybe you could, too? I can’t deliver cookies to your doorstep, sadly, but when it comes to gift ideas… I might be able to help!
I can’t wrap the packages, but I can tell you where I find gifts that feed our kids’ imagination and curiosity.
So here’s my big secret for where to find the best educational gifts:
Shop at museum gift shops.
I’m not talking about souvenirs, here. I’m talking about museums that aim to inspire kids’ interest in art or science or history, museums that stock their shops with carefully chosen books and activities so I don’t have to hunt those down myself. (Ahem.)
Want to see what I mean?
For Your Science Whiz
For explorers, tinkerers, and the scientifically curious, my favorite is the San Francisco-based Exploratorium. I kind of want to link to everything. (The puzzles! The books! The games! The outdoor toys!) Look at all these tinkering kits!
And their under $15 section has lots of cool options, from a naturally occurring bubble rock to “caffeine molecule socks” for coffee-loving teenagers.
Or check out the Lawrence Discovery Store from Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science. They have a whole selection of robotics building kits, and this sunprint paper is great for exploring at the intersection of art and nature.
For Your Art Lover
For young artists, I’m checking out the arts and crafts section of the MOMA Design Store. This kite looks amazing, these colorful versions of board games are so fun, and these art puzzles are gorgeous for older kids.
For Your History Buff
For historical toys and crafts, living history museums have great options. For example, the Plimoth Patuxet museum has toys, crafts and books that explore what daily life was like for both the Wampanoag people and the pilgrims in the 1600s.
I recommend looking into your favorite living history museum—especially one that explores history from more than one perspective.
This list is just a starting point. The beautiful part of buying gifts from a museum is that you are then supporting these institutions, which allows them to continue to offer the wonderful history, education, and memories we love.
I hope this list helps you find the best educational gifts, too – feel free to also browse your local museums’ gift shops and shop small!
What about you? Where do you find your best inspirational, educational gifts?
What’s Your Homeschool Mom Personality? Take Jamie’s quiz now and receive a free personality report to help you organize your homeschool based on what your personality type needs most!