Let’s Plant the Seed of Creativity in Our Children in the New Year!

I love the holidays. While growing up, I looked most forward to opening gifts, but being an adult has given me a whole new sense of what holiday giving should be about. Unfortunately, seeing so many toys and materials all over my news feed this holiday season was a little disappointing. My mom says it is the educator and me and that one day, when I have my own children, I too will buy them all the cool new toys. But the truth is, I don’t want to do that. Why? Because children are creative and innovative naturally, so why waste their genius on toys when I can give them something that will really engage them and maybe even spark a new interest? My six-year old godson is my closest point of reference. While I know the easiest gift would be some kind of dinosaur toy or maybe some cars, I always make it a point to give him something that will require him to build, create or imagine. This year, I made him an Inventor’s Box (you will read more about these below) and hearing him talk about a YouTube channel he follows where little kids show how they built their own toys from everyday materials was the most beautiful thing.

This brings me to one of my asks for 2018: don’t be afraid to veer off your child’s wish list this year. Let it be for an upcoming birthday or maybe as a reward for school achievement, consider giving the gift of innovation and plant the seed of creativity. Children LOVE surprises and many of these items will be played with much more often than any toy they might request. As a bonus, I made sure to discuss every item with a parent to ensure it met all the needs of the right gift!

1.  Osmo Kit

This is #1 on the list for multiple reasons. It is one of the most engaging kits I have ever seen kids play with and after using all five of the games that come with the original Genius kit myself, I could not stop talking about how much fun each game was. I recommend investing in the Osmo Genuis kit as it comes with five award-winning games that transform a child’s iPad into a hands-on learning tool, and the Osmo base (stand and reflector). This kit includes games on the following core topics: Numbers (math), Words (Spelling), Tangram (visual thinking), Newton (problem solving) and Masterpiece (creative drawing). There are other add-ons (like Coding) that can be purchased but this is the perfect starter kit. IPad is required for use.

2.  Art Supplies – and a variety of them!

The Arts should be an essential part of a child’s life. Art allows for children to unleash creativity and promotes self-expression. The reality is, there is not enough time in school nowadays to do all the fun art projects kids could truly benefit from, so it is absolutely necessary that they have access to the materials at home to make and create their own artwork. In addition to art supplies, I recommend adding some great coloring books that can add to their fun and if possible, an easel too!

3.  Lil’ Libros

We all know how important it is for children to read at home. This is the perfect opportunity to gift books that can engage them while also promote bilingualism. Lil’ Libros has made 10 colorful bilingual books for children that teach basic concepts, vocabulary and are rich with Latino culture. A perfect fit for all the children in our lives!

4.  Legos!

Who doesn’t love legos? However, I recommend to be even more personal gifting a Legos starter pack and attach some fun “task cards” with it so that you encourage children to use their imagination with STEM challenges. The next generation of innovators and engineers are in our homes — we must promote critical thinking by providing them opportunities to plan and build with and without structure. Here is an amazing resource that can help you get started.

5. Cubelets

These are the hottest blocks of the season! Cubelets robot blocks are the easiest way to explore robotics, coding, design, and engineering. There’s no wrong way to build with Cubelets as children just snap the robot blocks together and see what robot behaviors emerge. Best for children ages 5+ but guaranteed to be a hit for all the little techies in your life.

If you are looking for an extra special way to surprise a child in your life, I encourage you to go the extra mile and make them an “Inventor’s Box.” These DIY projects are the best as they promote engineering and innovation in a way that is masked as simple play time. To get started on your own Inventors Box, find a list of basic supplies to include in your kit here. This gift will be a little more time consuming, but we guarantee it will be a complete hit once you see your child using his/her imagination to invent their very own ideas.

I know that all these ideas can feel a little more time consuming, but I urge you to please think about how a simple opportunity to gift the right gift can help unleash your child’s imagination. At the end of the day, seeing your children happy and enjoying their own creativity is the most priceless gift of all.

What do you think?

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Alma Renteria

Alma Renteria

Alma-Delia Renteria is a proud product of Lynwood schools. After graduating UC Riverside, with a B.A. in English and a year earlier than anticipated, she decided to commit her “gap year” to City Year. After City Year Los Angeles, Alma went on to purse a teaching career with Teach For America Los Angeles. Upon joining TFA, Alma began her education career as a middle school teacher. It was while teaching that she realized the need to do her part to help serve the community she grew up in and decided to run for office, getting elected to the Lynwood School Board at only 23 years old. Alma completed her Master’s degree in Urban Education at Loyola Marymount University and is currently pursuing a 2nd Masters in Education Leadership and her Admin Credential. She was recently appointed by the Speaker to the Instructional Quality Commission and also serves as a Digital Learning Instructional Coach at a dual immersion school in Pico Rivera.

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