When my daughter was in elementary school, and even before that as a preschooler, I always chose gifts that had educational value and could help develop small motor skills. My daughter developed reading readiness through colorful rhyming and rebus books. Even before we had a computer with good graphics capabilities, we chose board games with educational value. Candy Land has always been a favorite of children. It may seem like a simple game, but it teaches cooperation and following directions. Other games such as I Spy Preschool Game help develop matching, reading, and social skills. Preschool puzzles and Lego promote both small motor and spatial skills. Even a doll house or play kitchen can provide hours of imaginative fun. While playing with my daughter, I enjoyed my second childhood as well.
Once my daughter started elementary school and we bought a more up to date computer, we spent countless hours playing computer games. Every game that I purchased had an educational goal in mind whether science, thinking, reading or mathematical skills. These games were both challenging and a lot of fun to play. One of our favorite games was Math Rescue which combined drill on math facts with a challenging arcade style game. We also enjoyed The Learning Company Super Solver series with such titles as Treasure Mountain, Treasure Cove, Midnight Rescue, and Outnumbered. We spent many hours playing these games, and not only did my daughter and I have fun while she improved her math and reading skills, but we also spent quality time together and helped to build a strong relationship which we still have today.
As my daughter got older, we continued to play these computer games adding more sophisticated titles such as Where in the World is Carmen San Diego (also available as a board game) and more advanced math games. One of our favorites was Math for the Real World by Broderbund which has the student solve real world, practical, every day math problems. We continued our use of both educational computer and board games throughout our six years of homeschooling 7th through 12th grades.
Today many parents want to get away from video and computer games. A large variety of fun physical fitness products are available. Parents can choose from inexpensive volley ball and soccer goal sets to trampolines, pogo sticks and more adventurous z-lines and rope climbing sets. Bicycle riding can be fun for all members of the family while providing a real aerobic workout. Weather permitting, families can engage in outdoor lawn games such as croquet, bocce, badminton, and miniature golf.
Classic board games such as monopoly, chess, and checkers offer many hours of fun while building strategic thinking skills. Multi-game tables are popular today and provide children and adults with a variety of games to choose from at an affordable price, all promoting small motor coordination, skill building, and physical fitness. For the more serious sports people in your household, billiards tables and supplies, ping pong tables, and air hockey tables make beautiful and well appreciated gifts and are available in a variety of price ranges.