Am I the only person who gets a little stressed out when choosing a gift for a child having a birthday party? I usually have a bunch of ideas and I end up with option paralysis. Then, I start questioning whether its actually a good gift that a child will enjoy or whether I'm just some sort of anti-commercial, anti-school, anti-social wacko who has no clue what children like. The goody bags for Suzanne's 4th birthday party included cards, dice, and dominoes because I thought these all represented great, fun ways for young children to learn about and get comfortable with numbers. But maybe I'm really weird and all the kids want are playdoh and Barbie stickers. Hmmm...this year how about 'make your own butter' kits -- some heavy cream and a baby food jar for shaking?
Anyway, I'm feeling sort of pleased with my recent birthday gift selections and thought I'd share them with you for your information and commentary.
As a bibliophile, I absolutely adore reading book lists and finding interesting books for my children. I don't know how many others are obsessed with children's books and there is always the danger that the recipient already owns the book, but I figure if I get obscure enough, its unlikely that they will have the book. But maybe my selections are not obscure, maybe everyone reads the same book lists and buys the same books.
Some recent book selections (that demonstrate math concepts) include Anno's Counting Book and Anno's Mysterious Multiplying Jar. The counting book is awesome, its wordless and shows a countryside scene. For each number it adds additional features and increases the number of features already shown, such as houses, children, trees, birds, etc. It counts up to 12, depicting the number in cubes in a sidebar. Going to 12 makes a great tie-in to the months of the year and the daytime hours of the day, so the pictures show the progress of the seasons and the changes in light at various times of day. I got this for a child who will be turning five, which may be the upper age for this book, but as an adult, I enjoy looking at it, so maybe there is no upper age. The Multiplying Jar book I have not yet seen, but I love Anno's books (check out his historical/geographical journey books). I got the Jar book for a child who will be turning seven. This book has a wider age range, the older kids will understand more about it than the younger ones, but I think they can all learn something. I'm looking forward to getting this book so I can glance at it.
Non-book gifts: the Uncle Wiggly Board Game, a counting game with numbered squares up to 100. The concept is similar to Candy Land, where you draw a card to tell you how to move. In Uncle Wiggly, the card has a simple little poem with a large number to tell you how many spaces ahead to move (or with an arrow pointing to the left and a smaller number to indicate how many spaces back). The directions emphasize that pre-readers can enjoy it because the large number directs them and an adult can read the poem. Its a great game for practice with counting and eventually addition and some subtraction. I got this gift for a five year-old.
Classical Kids CDs, I got Mozart's Magical Fantasy: A Journey through the Magic Flute for a seven year-old. This was a hard call for me as I know the child hears lots of classical music played in her house, but since this CD is more of a story CD than a music CD, I thought it might be fun. We have most of the Classical Kids CDs, but this one is our favorite.