Montessori Inspired Gift Giving

We at aim hope your Thanksgiving days were as wonderful as ours were! We salute all of you outside of the United States who do not celebrate our American Thanksgiving, but may have other special days to celebrate the harvest and the fall.

No matter who or where we are, many of us are heading now into more holiday time: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, and New Year’s celebrations all around the world.

And for many of us, this is a sacred time of year. We may pray together, give gifts to loved ones, plan family get-togethers and have special meals. I know some of my choicest childhood memories are from the holidays; everything from the smell of the turkey in the oven, to learning my father’s four-generation stuffing recipe to baking cookies with my grandma, as well as the thrill of sneaking a peek at some of my not-yet-wrapped Christmas presents in my mother’s closet!

Gifts for the Children
Buying gifts for children can be fun and sometimes a bit difficult. What do you want to keep in mind as you shop? From the Montessori perspective I have a few suggestions:

  • Skip the goofy faces and distorted images on toys and dolls as well as the entire paranormal genre for young teens.
  • Find high quality books with charming illustrations and happy stories. I personally love the Babar series and the Harry the Dog books. Both are reliably sweet and in bookstores this season. There is another very special book called Something from Nothing by Phoebe Gilman. It is available through and would be a wonderful addition to any child’s library.
  • If you are looking for something more substantial in the way of books, one of the best gift sets you can buy is called My Book House. It is a set of books beginning with simple tales for your children and progressing as each volume gets a little more sophisticated. If you can find the set or even part of it, the collection of literature from around the world is very impressive and beautifully illustrated.
  • Choose well-made toys that can be used again and again, preferably in multiple ways. Building blocks and dolls are always good.
  • Consider an attractive child-sized table and chairs for your child’s room.
  • Install low shelves in your child’s room and rotate the toys so there are not too many at any time.
  • Help your child build a hobby—collecting stamps, coins, seashells or whatever you know your child is interested in.
  • Consider a child’s digital camera; they are fun for the whole family and there is no cost for developing pictures that don’t quite work out!
  • If your child is artistically inclined, purchase a little bit of this and a little bit of that—colored paper, pipe cleaners, pens, colored pencils, clay, paints, glue, sequins, etc.—and create a “free shelf” for your child to go to whenever he has some free time and “nothing to do.”
  • Buy a few child-sized tools to work with mom or dad. Children love a tool belt with a small hammer and screwdriver, eye protection gear and a nice big log to pound nails into in the child’s room or the back yard. A set-up of child-sized utensils for baking is another sure-fire hit.

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