10+ Gift Ideas that Make Kids Think


I’m reading through gift guide and while I love a few of the retro toys that are coming back, I’m a bit concerned. Why? Perhaps, a bit of jealousy because I didn’t get the cool stuff usually when I was a kid, but more so because it seems like all the gadgets DO EVERYTHING for a child.

Gifts that encourage kids to think - retro games classic games

Montessori teaches a child practical life skills and encourages independence. With gadgets and apps, we may be, in some ways, more productive, but … don’t we lose a bit when we can’t think or do anything for our selves? In 8th grade, I remember not being allowed to use a computer to type reports, because there was this thing called “spell check” and apparently if we used a computer the teacher wouldn’t know if we knew how to spell.

Now, with a 1st grader who is learning how to spell, I see the dangers of too much technology. Commercialism is rampant. Watching YouTube tutorials a few times in front of my daughter… I now have a daughter making her own “how to” reviews! There needs to be balance, and so, that’s why I want to make this list of gift ideas that will help make kids think. This post is not sponsored by any game manufacturer, and I didn’t receive anything for this post, but the images include affiliate links.

Gift Ideas that Make Kids Think – Games and More

1. Battleship. The reasons I chose this game include: use of strategy and use of basic math ideas (coordinates). Don’t choose the electronic version. Have something in case the power goes out… or just to encourage your child to step away from the screen.

2. Scrabble or Scrabble Junior Dictionary, a book or online.

3. Boggle. Again, words are important. Plus, the timer helps make a fun family evening. Just don’t let your kid seeing you practice after they beat you!

4. Blurt or Travel Blurt. This game is nice to keep in the car (stored nicely of course) so that you can have a game to pass time when you’re travelling to visit family or friends during the holidays!

5. Crayola has a nice 2 set easy game that includes “Would You Rather…” which is a good game for all ages. We play a game that doesn’t need cards, but also is great for all ages. Just the simple “I’m thinking about something…” and then give clues. Nine out of ten times our 4 year old son is thinking about a rocket ship.

6. The classic Guess Who game allows two kids to try to guess who the other person has picked based on use of descriptors. This is a a nice way to encourage early critical thinking. While the game has “character” options, there’s enough advertising going on, so opt for the classic version. It’ll be okay. Really.

7. While Classic Operation may not teach you about all the body parts, it does ensure the kids slow down a bit so they don’t hear the buzz! In the day of go-go-go, it is important to relax a bit and keep a steady hand.

8. Lincoln Logs. Yes, there are many types of blocks and bricks, but for your pre-schooler, this is a nice way to help encourage building skills in a different manner.

9. This 3D Feel and Find is a great pre-school game (even for young elementary and adults sometimes too!) that forces us to use more of our brain.

10. It is easy to be competitive, but kids need to learn cooperation too.

11. Books are always a good idea. Since we are in the era where kids are online, I think it is important for parents read about bullying and while your kids are playing games, you can read this book called Saving Phoebe Murrow, and have discussions.

What are your thoughts on balancing technology with old-school games?

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  1. My toddler is big into puzzles right now. I love watching his mind put things together like that. (And when it’s all together, he yells, “I did it!”)

  2. Scrabble is by far my favorite game of all time. It is fun and maybe that is why I have a reasonably good vocabulary-I’ve been playing it since I was very young. It also helps with math skills-adding up those points to see who won!


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