9 Weeks of Educational Gifts: Week 2

Gifts that encourage the development of fine motor skills, problem solving, and recognition. 

It's been a week and now it's time for a new post in my series about 9 Weeks of Educational Gifts. Each week I will feature a gift that I feel is beneficial to a child's educational, social, or physical development and growth; this is week 2!

Melissa and Doug
I have long been a fan of Melissa and Doug products. One of my first ever purchases was this wooden shape puzzle with large knobs. I had chosen it as at the time I was working with a visually impaired student and needed something easy to grip and manipulate. In the end I actually purchased two and they have served me with with numerous years in the classroom and over 3 years with my own kids...and they still look great.

Depending on the age of the child you want to gift it to you could make a few minor adjustments to personalise the puzzle as well. One of the fantastic ideas I saw a couple of years back was to take photographs of family members, cut them to size and glue to the base of the board (underneath where the shapes pieces go). This is an especially good idea for babies when they are beginning to recognise faces and name association.

Scratch Art
While this one might seem on the surface not as educational I have found that younger children, ranging from 4-7 in age really enjoy this. It's relatively low-mess (win for parents when compared to paint!) and with practice can produce quite sophisticated work of art. Recommended for children aged 6 and up.

Bead Mazes
I can remember when I was little being totally fascinated by bead mazes. We never had one at home but the local doctor's clinic had one and it was always the toy I wanted to play with. Fast forward and my children are just as fascinated with them. Bead Mazes are great to help children develop their fine motor skills and manipulating smaller objects (without any fear of them ending up in their mouth). It takes coordination and problem solving skills for children to be able to move the beads along the different pathways. I recommend this one for children ages 3-6 and for any child who needs to practice their fine motor skills.

Wooden Blocks
Yep, going back to basics here because you just can't beat a solid set of wooden blocks. I found my kids went through a stage of liking blocks that "clicked" together but have moved on to blocks that they can "bang, crash, and knock 'em down" - this is apparently inherently more fun at the moment. Despite being wood the pieces are soft enough that you don't need to worry about injuries. These are a good source of practice for coordination and problem solving skills. A child needs to be able to work out how to stack without the blocks falling and how pieces can be manipulation by turning or flipping to assist with that. If the child doesn't have any other block type toys I would recommend from age 2 and up. 

This is just a sample of the quality resources in the Melissa and Doug range - well worth checking out their online store or most good Toy retailers also stock (or can order in) what you would like.

Australian buyers. Melissa and Doug products can be purchased through the following online store:

Stay tuned for Week 3's round-up of Educational Gifts next Saturday! 
Missed Week 1? Click the banner below.

Most of the links go to the US-based website but if you take the product number to any good Toy retailer they should be able to order it in if they don't currently stock the product.
I will add links to a Australia retailer when located.


  1. I love Melissa and Doug products! They are so fun and great for learning!

  2. Thank you for sharing this article! :)

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