When it comes to child development, there is a very strong connection between the body and the brain. We’ve seen the positive effects of movement on brain development and how gestures can help children remember more.
Busy Hands, Busy Brains – Scholastic
As students put projects together, create crafts, or use familiar materials in new ways, they’re constructing meaning. Such hands-on activities activate their brains and when you combine activities that require movement, talking, and listening, it activates multiple areas of the brain.
“Kids learn through all their senses and they like to touch and manipulate things.” – Ben Mardell, PhD, a researcher with Project Zero at Harvard University.
Between the ages of four and seven, the right side of the brain is developing and learning comes easily through visual and spatial activities. The left hemisphere of the brain – the side that’s involved in more analytical and language skills – develops later, around ages 10 and 11. – Cindy Middendorf, educational consultant and author of The Scholastic Differentiated Instruction Plan Book.
“The more parts of your brain you use, the more likely you are to retain information. If you’re only listening, you’re only activating one part of the brain, but if you’re drawing and explaining to a peer, then you’re making connections in the brain.” – Judy Dodge, author of 25 Quick Formative Assessments for a Differentiated Classroom.
- Enhances creativity
- Improves retention
- More enjoyable
- Develops a sense of achievement
- Develops critical thinking
A 2009 study conducted by researchers at Purdue University found that 8th graders who were taught about human impacts on water quality through a hands-on learning method, as opposed to only the textbook and lecture method, showed higher comprehension of the concepts, particularly among those students where English was not their first language. Experimenting expands a student’s understanding and appreciation of science and its role in society and innovation. Taking that experimentation a step further and participating in events such as science fairs helps students develop vital skills, not only in science and math, but in communication and other aspects of “emotional intelligence” that are applicable in their current classes and also in their future lives and careers. – HuffPost
The Ultimate Gift Guide for Young Tinkerers
If you’re looking for a gift for the tinkerer in your family, these hands-on gift ideas are a great way to combine fun, meaning and learning. These are some of the ideas you’ll find:
- classic blocks reinvigorated
- gifts for mechanical tinkerers
- super cool robot kits
- gifts for computer savvy kids
Building Blocks 2.0
Tiny builders, start here!
These soft tactile blocks are great for little ones to learn with. Made of natural rubber foam, they are squishy but perfect for building. They’re colorful and durable and fit together easily. Children can create a variety of shapes and structures!
Using imagination and coordination, young children work on spatial, fine and gross motor skills. For kids who need sensory input, the tactile stimulation provided by this toy is fantastic.
And while we’re thinking about giving, it’s also important to think about responsible buying. This is a green product, made in India at a fair trade factory using premium quality, child-safe materials. The surface is 100% nylon and wipes clean, making it perfect for little chewers!
“My husband is quite the handyman. I purchased these for my son (and a different set for my daughter), to encourage their interest in making/building things and in fixing things. So far, I have a new a bird feeder and a bat house. Yah!” ~ Gail R – Teacher
The unmatched magnetic building set. Talk about STEAM!
Perfect for large families and ambitious builders, the Challenger set encourages kids to explore magnetic construction through modular play. Magformers believes it is vital for children to develop through creativity and constructional play. This set does not disappoint.
You’ll find a variety of magnetic shapes in this set, both Rainbow and XL cruiser pieces so that children can design and build ideas from both lines including the ‘magic ball’ and super fast XL roadster.
This set makes a great addition to a math or art curriculum, that’s super hands – on. Children of all ages can build and create together making it a great social gift set.
Tegu blocks are finely crafted with magnets embedded so kids can build multiple structures form various shapes. Like Rubbablox,Tegu is made from eco-friendly material (in this case wood) and comes in a variety of color schemes to suit preference and mood. Honduras and named after the capital city Tegucigalpa.
Kids defy gravity and push their imagination in previously unseen ways. No instruction manuals or electronics; just toys that demand imagination and inspire limitless creativity across all ages.
Tegu Blocks are bringing back open, creative play with style – right in time!
This makes a great gift because it unlocks a child’s mind through innovative play. The pieces are small enough to be portable.
“I believe this is an AMAZING product. Something amazing happens when kids use their hands and imagination to create.” ~ Harvey S
“Bought these for my 6 year old grandson for Christmas and we now call his creations ‘the work of a City Planner.’ The different shapes and structures take on the look of city skylines with random items like trees, bridges, etc. Geometry was never so much fun.” ~Deborah F – Homeschooler, Teacher
“My first reaction was “these are pricey!” but they were highly recommended to me so I gave it a go. Now I can tell they will be loved for years. My 3 year old loves stacking them and clicking them together and a part. I even have fun playing with these and I’m an adult. They are high quality and the colors are great. ~ Summer H – Homeschooler, Parent, Teacher
Packed with step-by-step instructions for 15 charming builds, The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book is the perfect family activity this holiday season! It’s one part coffee table for adults, and two parts instruction book kids of all ages.
With The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book as their guide, kids make classic globe and barrel ornaments, all out of LEGO! Other possible creations include original gingerbread houses, a merry Santa, arcade cabinets, and so much more!
This makes a perfect gift for the child who already owns tons of LEGO blocks but is always looking for inspirational building ideas.
Put some STEAM in your holiday plans! This math activity set stimulates learning through magnetic construction and creation. Activities in the set utilize the always attracting magnets to solve math problems such as patterns, addition and subtraction, and 2D nets to 3D structures.
Use the 50 page math book included to layout Magformers shapes and complete the mathematical challenges! The set contains 12 different geometric shapes including squares and triangles, rectangles and trapezoids through to the super squares and triangles.
Realistic building for young builders! This set makes a great gift for children who love to help parents and grandparents in the workshop.
Encourage children to spend valuable imagination time learning new skills with this 10-piece set tool set. It includes screwdrivers, hammer, handsaw, bar clamp, file, tape measure, ruler, safety goggles, and tool belt.
Work and play are intertwined with building activities that are challenging, educational, and – most importantly, fun! The tool designs are authentic so children can make-believe they are true woodworkers.
Ages 7 to 10
Build big connections! Kids work together to literally make bridges, obstacle courses – anything they imagine.
Start fun-filled construction with just three simple steps: connect, twist, and create. Toobeez Original Building Kit is a life-sized construction toy. Unlike regular blocks, this kit comes with interlocking tubes and spheres that can be linked to create structures right out of kids’ imagination. They can construct anything from a doll house, a helicopter, lemonade stand or a pirate ship.
Just connect and twist the tube into the connector spheres. It’s a great set to be used indoors for forts as well as outdoors for lawn activities.
This set makes a lasting gift because it promotes creativity and inspires imagination with unlimited building possibilities. Adults won’t be able to resist creating with their kids!
The 14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot kit is the recipient of the “Best Green Products Award 2013” from Dr Toy and Creative Child Magazine has anointed it with “Top Toy of the Year Award” and “Kids Product of the Year Award.”
This robot can be transformed into 14 different robot modes which include a multitude of comical and functional movements. The user can easily change from a Wagging-Tail Dog to Running Beetle to Walking Crab to Surfer to Speedster to Zombie Chaser!
It’s super versatile, too – there are parts that make the robot move on land and water. Like an amphibian! This a great gift for more advanced robot aficionados.
“Excellent resource for my Middle School STEAM students. Anything robotic is extremely appealing and interesting to them so this was a big set!!! Great resource, highly recommend it.” ~ Faith B., Teacher
“We purchased this for our just-turned-9 year old’s birthday. He loves it! It’s a nice size and there are so many things you can do with it! It comes with about 200 pieces and a thick instruction manual on how to make 14 different bots. Of course, the limit is your imagination and I’m excited to see how many things my son can come up with!” ~ Celena M
“Fun and educational. I like the snap together concept and the ability to take apart and reassemble multiple times. A very good price for all that you get.” ~ Martha M
Build a 3D bot! This makes a creative and thinking gift for the child fascinated by robots.
Young innovators will click, connect, and create with the NEW Magformers 45 piece Walking Robot set! Kids will love following along with the step-by-step idea booklet to discover the possibilities of the colorful Walking Robot Set. Eight walking characters are built using the STEAM engine block and walking accessories!
Building with Magformers encourages children to use their imagination and show their creativity while developing skills and knowledge critical to their development success. Magformers uses high quality “always attracting” magnetic technology that provides endless constructional play.
An electrifying gift! This kit is perfect for the budding electrician looking to be stimulated by simple but intriguing experiments.
Mand Labs KIT-1 is one of the coolest Educational Electronics Kit that you will ever find. With their powerful step by step visual instructions, teens can create a variety of fascinating electricity and electronic projects. They will be able to understand how real world electronic component works, test laws of physics, gain technical skills and have fun. Watch out, Nobel!
The best part is that the kit is all-in-one. It comes with all requisite parts and tools for making 50+ projects and venturing further into electronics, books for theoretical reference, learning and making videos, troubleshooting guide, and an award winning package design that opens up into a personalized workstation. Note: This is a safe kit.
This is an online e-course of Beginning Architecture with 25+ architecture lessons providing the early fundamentals of structures, home design, and zoo design.
Kids use things laying around the house like paper, popsicle sticks, straws, paper plates, and pipe cleaners along with learned methods to design their own homes! Each lesson concentrates on designing and personalizing a specific room of their homes, structures or zoos. By the end of the course, students will have designed a home specific to their personal tastes and will have built various designs.
This course provides more specific architectural challenges for students who are interested in playing with and learning about architecture and some interior design, making it a great holiday gift!
Teens will have a blast learning how to make their own website with the help of this fun, illustrated introduction to the basics of website-building. Mix creativity with real world empowerment. The awesome cartoon guide will help teens learn the basics and pretty soon, they’ll have a website all their own to show off to all their friends.
Readers learn how to use HTML tags, make their own site shine with CSS, customize WordPress to fit their needs, and choose a company to host the site. They also get advice on things like how to pick a good domain name – and those of you in the blogging sphere know that’s no joke!