The holidays are a great opportunity to come together as a family. In many families, they also are a time to express our appreciation with thoughtful gifts that align with our values, and that put big smiles on the faces of our precious children. We recommend gifts that foster the skills and attitudes at the core of your child’s Montessori education. If you are interested in finding gifts that help you support your child’s education at home, read on to discover gift ideas that your child will both love and learn from.

Get into the kitchen and out into the garden. Most children love to hang out in the kitchen and “help”. They love to garden along with us, or take a turn at handling tools. For Small Hands is a great online store that offers real, high-quality tools sized for young children to handle comfortably. You’ll find everything from child-sized brooms and aprons to hand-drills, from gardening gloves to child-safe vegetable choppers.

Game time! The holidays are perfect for starting a tradition of turning the TV off and instead playing games together as a family. Children as young as age three can play board games, such as Hi Ho Cherry O, the Ladybug Game or Sequence for Kids. Memory games—with wide ranges of pictures, from construction equipment to life on earth and more challenging I Spy versions—can be turned into “matching games” for 2-year-olds; with practice, some 4- or 5-year-olds will love to beat Mom and Dad at memory! Simple card games, such as Uno or Go Fish, can also be fun, especially if you start by playing them with the cards laid out openly, so you can help younger players. And older children may enjoy more challenging games like Shut the Box.

Pretend play. Every child should have plenty of time for unstructured free play. Pretending to take on grown-up roles, working together to make up far-flung journeys, or acting out day-to-day situations is lots of fun. Children are creative, and can make a lot from a little, so you don’t have to buy much. Consider largely unstructured items, which inspire and not limit creativity, things like a play cape, a doctor kit or even a working stethoscope, some huge cardboard blocks, and your little ones may be off for hours of play, especially if you also make sofa cushions, chairs, blankets and tables available to them!

Let’s draw and do crafts together. With your child’s growing attention span and improving fine motor skills, she’ll soon delight in having quality and fun materials to be creative with. If you have the space, a two-sided easel can be great for the youngest ones to draw on a big, toddler-suitable surface, especially if you can offer nice chalk or poster paint. (Don’t forget the artist smock!) For older children, invest in drawing pads and high-quality colored pencils. If you want to help your budding artist to both learn to draw more things, and practice reproducing shapes (a key skill in writing), you may find one of the “How to Draw” series a great way to spend some quality time together. The step-by-step instructions for drawing animals, flowers, or people are super-simple; 3-year-olds will delight in coloring the figures you draw for them, while older children will be excited to try their hand at tracing or copying the figures. Klutz books and activity kits also are a great source for creative inspiration, and so easy that even those of us who don’t think we are very good at crafty things can have fun with our children!

Head outside and play! Every child should have a collection of balls: even infants can enjoy easy-to-clutch open balls to throw around outside. Or try having fun with bubbles: this bubble wand is just amazing, and sure to be a hit, whether in your yard, or at the park. Finally, balance bikes are a huge hit for children to receive. These make great holiday gifts for children as young as age 2, and are a great way to get ready quickly for riding real bikes for older preschoolers.

It’s story time. No surprise here: we always think books are a must-have gift for your child whenever there’s a joyous occasion.

We hope you find some interesting new ideas in this list for your family, and that whatever gifts you choose add joy to your holidays and for the year to come.

Happy Holidays!