INSIDE IOWA STATE
November 30, 2001
Ask an expert: Holiday gift ideas for children
by Linda Charles
The holidays are approaching and kids are thumbing through catalogs, saying,
"I want that and that and that." Meanwhile, their parents and grandparents
are looking for gifts that will keep their allure after the wrapping paper
has been thrown away. Following are tips on buying for children, from Iowa
State faculty members in human development and family studies.
Godfrey: First, you need to make sure it is developmentally appropriate, not
way over their heads or way below. You should get something that children
can manipulate, do something with and have fun with. I recommend toys with
multiple uses, instead of a toy that can do only one thing (like a computer
Michael Godfrey, assistant professor
For younger children, I personally like things that they can pretend with.
Toys with multiple uses that children can pretend with, and interact both
with themselves and others, are good. Play mobiles and the Fisher Price
Little People can help increase imagination. Another good item is dress-up
clothes, especially hats. They can change their personalities by changing
Herwig: Infants need things that can be squeezed, dropped, poked, twisted or
thrown. Toddlers need things that can be stretched, pushed and pulled, and
opened and closed. All ages need things that are interactive, have multiple
uses and allow children to incorporate their experiences into their play.
Another idea is a container of things they can be creative with, like tissue
and construction paper, sketch pads, scissors, markers and sequins.
Joan Herwig, associate professor
For children a little older, board games are popular gifts, although these
may end up on the shelf after the holiday because they require partners,
usually the parents, to play. But they do teach sharing, rule following,
cooperation and competition. Outdoor equipment, like bikes and sledding
saucers, are good, as is camping equipment.
And traditional toys like dolls and trucks are worthy. The tendency is, once
a child is 8, the era is over. It's unfortunate we don't foster that longer.
Phillips: Children learn through exploration and discovery, and need
hands-on, concrete play experiences. Children like toys they can be
actively, rather than passively, involved with. Holiday advertising is
geared to sensitize children to the hot, trendy toys, but the costs of these
are escalated. In subsequent years, you can pick them up for much less.
Infants and toddlers explore with their mouths and noses. They don't use
their eyes as much as adults. Toys children can construct things with are
good, like blocks, building sets. Even the Barbie sets are good because they
have things to put here and there and children can get into the dramatic
play. Things to avoid for younger children are sharp edges, small pieces
that can come off and be swallowed, and anything breakable. A rule of thumb
is anything that will fit inside an empty toilet paper tube should not be
given to infants or toddlers.
Carol Alexander Phillips
Ames, Iowa 50011, (515) 294-4111
Published by: University Relations,
Copyright © 1995-2001, Iowa State University. All rights reserved.