Thursday, December 4, 2014

Gift Ideas for The Artist, Scientist and Engineer!

I'm sorry that I don't have this week's Empowered Families post up yet. My laptop has been giving me fits AND I've been fighting a terrible stomach bug. Please be patient and accept this simple gift ideas post in the meantime. ;)

Like most children, my kids (2- and 4-year old girls) LOVE to make art, do science experiments and play with blocks. This year we're trying to choose gifts that align with those interests. We're trying to purchase things that will really get used, not toys that require batteries or will be forgotten in a month. With that in mind, here are my top picks for gifts for your Artist, Scientist or Engineer!

None of these are affiliate links and I won't receive commission 
if you purchase through them, so feel free to click away.

For the Artist:

IKEA Easel $14.99
 My daughters both enjoy painting at an easel and this price can't be beat!

IKEA Easel Paper (fits the easel above) $4.99
 My little artists go through tons of paper! I'm planning to get them a couple of these rolls, as well as some larger single sheet easel paper, just $2.95.

Mixed Media Art Journal $5.99 (on sale this week)
I have this same journal that I work in and my 4-year old wants one just like Mommy. :) The pages are thick so they can take paint, markers or whatever she wants to dish out. Children are REAL artists, so they need REAL materials.

Liquid Watercolors: Set of 13 for $49.99 or Set of 18 for $69.99  or Set of 21 for $81.99
Great for SO many projects (art, science, bath time, play dough, etc.) The sets are a bit expensive, but I think they'd make such an awesome gift for big and little artists and from what I hear, they last forever!

Bleeding Art Tissue $3.99
Again, this is great for tons of different projects and is so inexpensive! At this price, you can get every set (they have "Cool", "Bright" and "Warm" color sets.)

For the Scientist:

We have purchased these before and it's time for another round, as my kids wore out the last batch! Using these improves fine motor skills and they can be used for art making AND science (a perfect combination, if you ask me!)

Baby Soda Bottles: Sets range from $11.99 (for 15) to $74.99 (for 120)

I first saw these at the NAEYC conference in Dallas and they are so cool! This is what a 2-liter bottle looks like before it's "inflated" and filled with soda. I bought one set at the conference, but might get another...they're awesome! Super sturdy, perfect for small hands and they clean up easily after chemistry experiments.

Primary Science Lab Kit $26.20
A great starter kit, this contains a beaker, magnifying glass, funnel, eyedropper, flask, tweezers, goggles, large 6” test tube and stand, 2 small test tubes and stand, activity guide, and 10 double-sided Activity Cards. If you're just starting out in science, this would be a good one for very young children due to the size of the materials. You could also probably piece something like this together on your own by shopping local discount stores (think dollar stores for the little funnel and flask, the craft or hobby store for tweezers and safety goggles, etc.)

You can probably find something like this cheaper if you shop locally, but this one I found on Amazon features a shatterproof, acrylic lens and a spot lens. They also come in different sizes. These would be great for exploring outside and looking up close at plants, rocks, soil, bugs and more!

For the Engineer:

This is a must have in every play room. Wooden building blocks are fantastic for small children. My 2- and 4-year old both love them so much, we're thinking about purchasing another set so they can make larger structures. I bought this same set 2 Christmases ago and it's held up beautifully. 

I'm in love with this gorgeous block set. The colors are so vibrant and it would make the perfect extension to the basic block set seen above. If you are handy with tools, you could probably easily create something similar at home with natural dyes.

Boards of Education, Set of 3 for $105
I stumbled onto these last night and I know my kids would love them (with supervision, of course.) You really can't go wrong with Montessori "toys" and this one fits the bill. Again, if you're handy you might be able to recreate this at home.

Marble Run, $19.99
Full disclaimer: I haven't seen this particular set in person, but it looks similar to the one we have (that I found for $4 at a yard sale! Score!) My kids LOVE the marble run and have spent hours playing with it (again with supervision...marbles are a choking hazard for very young children.) Sets like this create amazing opportunities for conversation and problem solving with your child as they try to figure out why the marble got stuck, how to make it go faster, etc. Additionally, it's good fine motor practice, fitting all the little pieces together.

DIY Ball Run from More than ABCs and 123s
Using a $10 oil drip pan, some magnets and cardboard tubes, Taylor made this ball run that your child can adjust and experiment with on their own. She used business card magnets for added safety (no chance of swallowing!) and simply painted the tubes. I've also seen similar ones made with PVC pipe or plastic rain guttering, depending on your time, skill level and budget. I love this because the child can interact with it so easily.

I hope this gives you some great ideas for fun, usable gifts your child won't forget about by New Years!


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