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With the holiday season on the horizon, now is the time to start brainstorming gift ideas. Gift guides for kids of all ages are easy to find. But what if you don’t want to just buy the latest popular toy for a child? Or what if you are a parent who is highly critical of the toys your child plays with? That is where a non-toy gift guide comes in.
(Click to read why I don’t want people to buy my kid toys for Christmas)
This gift guide is designed for children ages 6-10. By this age, children should be old enough to understand a balance of gifts you can unwrap and gifts you can’t (like an experience or a ticket to something happening in the future.)
If you want to read non-toy gift guides for other ages, make sure you check out my Non-Toy Gift Guide for Babies, Non-Toy Gift Guide for Toddlers, Non-Toy Gift Guide for Preschoolers and Non-Toy Gift Guide for Families.
An experience for an elementary aged child can be a bit bigger than the ones for preschool children. Think of an entire day’s outing. You could even give the child choices, such as where to have dinner. Some great ideas for an all-day experience are:
Books are a great gift for any age. Elementary aged children are starting to read longer books and may enjoy book series. Some kids just like to read, so picking a series for them isn’t too hard. As a child, I loved to read. My hands-down favorite was the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The story was told with so many details that I loved to imagine I was also a pioneer girl. While the main character is a girl in almost all of the stories (except Farmer Boy), both boys and girls enjoy this series.
Another series that is fun for both boys and girls is the Ramona Quimby series. As Ramona grows throughout the series, she never loses her spunky personality or how relatably “normal” she is. Even as an adult, this series still makes me laugh. Maybe you are more interested in Henry Huggins and his dog Ribsy, who are featured as side characters in Ramona’s stories. Make sure to read the three book Henry and Ribsy series to read about more of their hijinks.
Judy Moody is little bit more “modern” in that it was written when I was an adult and not a kid. From what I have read, this is another fun series like Ramona where the main character doesn’t always make the right choice and is generally a “normal” kid. The Judy Moody series is a fun series with a relatable and humorous main character.
One series that I hear over and over that kids like is the Magic Tree House series. These books contain a brother and sister team who discover a magic tree house that takes them on adventures. One of my favorite aspects of this series is how they are partially fact based about history and science. They are just factual enough that they may spark an interest in a child about a particular place or time that they will want to explore further.
A fun mystery series for newer readers is the Cam Jansen series. Cam is a girl with a photographic memory who uses it to solve mysteries. In the first book Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds, Cam witnesses a robbery at a jewelry store and must help the police arrest the right person using her photographic memory.
Another fun series that many remember reading as a child is the Boxcar Kid series. You can even buy the series in a box made to look like a boxcar. If you haven’t read it, four orphaned children live in an abandoned boxcar until they are reunited with their grandfather. As the series progresses, they start to solve mysteries and they manage to find a mystery no matter what they are up to.
Another mystery series for kids is the Encyclopedia Brown series. Encyclopedia Brown uses his great observational skills to solve mysteries around the neighborhood. Each book contains 10 shorter mysteries for those readers who may not like long, drawn-out mysteries.
The trick to find a series a kid will love is to find one about their interests. My brother always claimed he “hated reading” but we found he just didn’t like to read things he couldn’t relate to. Then, we stumbled across the Screech Owl series. (This series is for kids a little older, about 8-12) A hockey team that solves mysteries? The library could hardly order them fast enough for him. Now, this was before the internet age so we literally had to stumble across them at the library. Nowadays, you can search around on Amazon or the internet in general to find books about whatever interests your child.
This kind of goes along with experiences, but why not give an elementary aged child lessons in something they are interested in. It might be something you can get lessons on together (such as a cake decorating class) or something they do themselves (such as horse riding lessons.) Community Education catalogs are a great place to look. Some ideas for lessons are:
Okay, so elementary age is where board games start to get fun with kids. For the most part, they will be able to understand rules and only need minimal help. Plus, the games tend to actually be fun for adults too. Check out the board games section in my Non-Toy Gift Guide for Preschoolers to see some more games that would be fitting for younger elementary students.
As in the last gift guide, I want to talk about the Peaceable Kingdom company again. They make great cooperative games. They are educational while also encouraging children to work together towards a common goal instead of against each other in competition. (And if you come from a highly competitive family like I do, this is a good thing. More than one holiday has been almost ruined by a board game in my family.)
The first game from Peaceable Kingdom is Race to the Treasure! Players work together to build a trail from start to finish so they can beat the ogre to the treasure. Children work on math skills like using a grid and game skills like strategy while they work together.
Mermaid Island is another cooperative game where players work together to get all of the mermaids home before the sea witch arrives. This game works more on social skills like taking turns and game skills like strategy while they play.
Another cooperative game is Stone Soup. Players work to make matches of ingredients in order to “cook the soup.” This is a twist on the ever popular memory/matching game.
The last game I’ll recommend from Peaceable Kingdom is Cauldron Quest. This game is for slightly older children. Players work together to uncover hidden ingredients in order to make a potion. Besides using strategy and cooperation, players also use knowledge of even and odd numbers while also working on their powers of deduction.
One other cooperative game from a company called Family Pastimes is Granny’s House. Players work together to overcome obstacles on their way to visit Granny. One other thing I really like about this game is that it is hand-made in Canada with recycled materials. So cool!
Family Pastimes also makes a game called The Secret Door which I honestly want to buy even though my daughter is too little for it. Players work together developing strategy skills to discover what lies behind the secret door. Just that little bit of mystery makes me want to purchase and play it.