I was grousing to my husband yesterday about the idiotic toys that people buy to “donate” so that some child can have a toy under the Christmas tree. It’s not that I have any problem with the principle of it… it’s nice that we try to make sure every child has a happy Christmas.

My problem is with the toys that people buy “just to buy a toy” to donate. Poorly-made stuffed animals (i.e. cheap), the most inexpensive board game they can find, a bag of toy soldiers, etc. If we know that we need to raise a generation of kids that are engaged learners, creative thinkers, and are able to grasp the concepts of technology, science, and math, shouldn’t we try to buy toys that will teach them some fundamental principles of the world?

  • building kits and construction toys (like legos, snap circuits, and magnetic building kits teach physical principles, pattern recognition, and encourage creativity)
  • science kits (chemistry sets, biology sets, magic sets) all encourage scientific thinking

  • educational software – maybe as a gift to your local public school – that focuses on math or science skills
  • spirographs and math activity stations would build math skills

I felt compelled to practice what I was preaching. I went to Target tonight and purchased six quality educational gifts that encourage these creative, science & math oriented thinking skills, and I will donate them tomorrow to a couple of different organizations that are collecting toys.

Most of these types of gifts are not in the “under $10” category. Many cost between $20 and $60. I don’t think these types of toys often get donated in these toy drives. However, if it means that one child might be more interested in something besides video games and television, maybe even developing some math and science interest in the process, then it was money well spent.

I challenge you to do the same, and then use the poll button (to the right) to indicate that you have met the challenge.

Need ideas? Try visiting Amazon.com’s Learning & Education category.

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