Educational Gift Ideas – Language Arts Edition

2015giftguideThe holidays are nearly upon us, Christmas is right around the corner! I’ve started my shopping, and as I was planning out what my children will be receiving, I thought it might be fun and helpful to share some ideas here with you. I like to try and find interesting, and sneakily educational gifts for my children. My goal is to have a house full of fascinating things to tempt them away from the video games and television when they are looking for things to do. I’ll be doing this as a series over the next few weeks, and I’ll divide the posts by subject matter.

Today I want to share some Language Arts inspired gift ideas:

If you’ve followed my posts, you’ll know that my twins do not enjoy writing. I’ve tried many things to change that, however, the latest of which being Magnetic Poetry Original Kit.

I bought the kids a magnetic poetry set, thinking it would be a sneaky way to get them to play with words without actually writing. I didn’t make a production of it, just opened the box and slapped all of the words onto the fridge. I put a couple random words together so they’d see the potential.

10245302_10204431648887144_5466326095169081433_nThis is what they have come up with. I figure, at least they are playing with words, right?

There are also several add-on kits that you can purchase to add a different element to your poetry. You can get the Magnetic Poetry Kit: Book Lover kit, the  Nature Poet Magnetic Poetry Kit, the Magnetic Poetry Kit: Shakespeare and even a Magnetic Poetry Zombie kit. The possibilities are endless (or at least as endless as the size of your refrigerator!).

 

294009_4729279785803_960614695_nIf you have a budding writer already, and you want to encourage them in their writing, you might consider something like Finish This Book or Wreck This Journal (Expanded) by Keri Smith. These books are a great way to help your child come up with new or different things to write about. They are full of prompts that encourage your creativity. I love that Smith encourages you to “mess up” the book, perfect for those perfectionists who are rattled by the idea of making a mistake, because it’s the mistakes that make this book special. I would suggest that if you buy one of these for your child, buy one for yourself as well. Sometimes our children need to see us being creative! Plus, it’s really fun. 😉

 

If your budding writer is into fantasy, then you absolutely must get them  Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction. This book is gorgeous – and it is chock full of fantastic illustrations and inspiration for creating amazing works of fantastical fiction. You may wish to pair it with How to Draw Fantasy Art and RPG Maps: Step by Step Cartography for Gamers and Fans, if they want to learn to develop their fantasy map making skills. 😉

2014-11-14 11.15.08If you want a fun way to sneak in some spelling practice, why not try Scrabble Classic? Some days I skip spelling lessons entirely and just play a few rounds of Scrabble instead. This is especially great on those rough days when no one is in the mood for actual lessons.

You can even purchase additional Scrabble Tiles to add more letters to your game or even to just practice your spelling words (without the game board).

 

 

 

Does your younger child aspire to write their own books someday? You might want to give them Lulu Jr. Illustory – Newest Version Craft Kit. This is a really neat kit – your child can write and illustrate their story, then you send it off (or create it online) to have it professionally printed into their very own hard cover picture book, written by them!

If storytelling is a fun past-time for your child, they would likely enjoy Rory’s Story Cubes. These cubes are portable (great for long car trips) and so much fun. You can create an endless variety of stories – either on their own, or as a fun group activity. Is your child stuck on what to do next in their story? Use the story cubes to break through writer’s block! I think my favorite thing about this game is that there is no wrong way to use it and there are no wrong answers. Anything goes, because it’s all about being creative!

And of course, if we’re talking about Language Arts, I can’t skip reading! Some of our favorite books that would make great gifts:

Picture Books:

We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) – You really can’t go wrong with the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems. We all love them, from the 5 year old on up. These are great for budding readers, and just as much fun as read alouds. This is my personal favorite, but we have several and they are all fantastic.

All Are Family: Celebrating the Diversity of Our Global Family – this was actually written by a homeschooling mom who uses Build Your Library! How neat is that? This book is gorgeous. The illustrations are so lovely, the prose is gently and flowing, and it’s just a very sweet story to read aloud. It would be a perfect fit if you’re studying the Kindergarten – Around the World program. My youngest loves it and has asked to hear it numerous times.

The Day the Crayons Quit – I admit I haven’t read this yet. But I’m getting it for my youngest because I’ve heard so many people rave about it. A picture book about crayons that are unhappy with their lot in life – what’s not to like?

The Most Wonderful Thing in The World – this is a beautifully illustrated and elegantly written fairy tale retelling. A king and queen are looking for the perfect suitor for their princess to marry…you’ve heard the story before but not told quite like this.

 

Chapter Books:

Nightmares! When I heard Jason Segel wrote a children’s book, I got excited and purchased it immediately. I decided it would make an excellent read aloud for October. I have twin boys who are extremely picky about books. I’ve spent years trying to find literature that will spark a love of reading. I’ve been reading to them since they were babies (they are 12 now) and out of all the books we’ve read, the only ones they loved and asked to hear “just one more chapter” were the Harry Potter books and Nightmares. So that should tell you something. It earned 5 stars for that reason alone, but of course, it wouldn’t have held their interest if it wasn’t a rollicking good story.

And the story was really, really good. Charlie Laird has just moved into his stepmother’s strange purple mansion, with his father and little brother. He’s been there for months, and he’s having terrible nightmares. The first half of the book keeps you guessing as to what’s really going on. The Netherworld was intriguing – I loved the idea of the ever changing monsters and the terror-tories. I even had my kids each draw a picture depicting their own personal terror-tories. I loved the overall theme of facing your fears in order to overcome them. We laughed, I cried a little, it was just scary enough without being over the top.

And now there is a sequel! Nightmares! The Sleepwalker Tonic

Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-7) We are die-hard Harry Potter fans at our house. These are the books that got my twins interested in reading. Magic, mystery, adventure – Harry Potter has it all.

And even if you’ve already bought and read all the Harry Potter books, you need to have the brand new Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone: The Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, Book 1) This book is beautiful. Seriously, one of the loveliest books I’ve seen in a while. It brings a whole new kind of magic to the very familiar story of Harry Potter. And they’ll be releasing a brand new illustrated version of all seven books – one each year! So that means you’ll be all set for the next 7 years for a lovely book gift. 😉

Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare – Containing six of Shakespeare’s famous plays written in prose for children, this book is beautiful. Exposing children to Shakespeare as lovely tales will aid them later when they read his original works. Knowing the plot and characters will make the language that much easier to understand. The illustrations are lovely, the stories are written in easy to understand language, but they don’t lose any of their power as great stories. This book is definitely not to be missed.

If you and your child enjoyed The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, the beautifully written coming-of-age story about the spunky Calpurnia who discovers a love of science, then you will be excited to know there is now a sequel! The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate just came out over the summer and it’s just as great as the first book.

The next article in the series will list gift ideas for your budding scientist, so stay tuned!

Happy shopping!

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