School Literacy & Culture’s 2020 Holiday Gift Guide

Our Top 20 Stay Home, Stay Safe, Have Fun Picks
For children 4 – 8 years old

Welcome to the 2020 School Literacy & Culture Holiday Gift Guide! 2020… what a year! It is hard to believe that we welcomed the new decade with open arms, and within a few short weeks news of the novel coronavirus spread. March brought us quarantining at home, summer came and went, school started online or with facemasks and shields, and nine months after it all began we are bracing for a holiday season unlike any other. This year, instead of planning large family meals, holiday gatherings, and cross-country travels, we are planning our feasts for our immediate household and sending Zoom invitations so we can share pumpkin pie and family stories on the computer screen rather than gathered around the same table.

While disappointment and sadness at not doing things the way we have always done them may be underpinning this holiday season, there is still much to celebrate as we look at finding new traditions to embrace with those in our households and give thanks for technology, which is serving to unite us virtually, and safely, with those we love near and far. As always, children are the best and most prominent reminder to find joy in the holiday season, in moments both big and small. At School Literacy & Culture, we are encouraging each other to focus not on what we can’t do, but instead on what we can. We can’t (or shouldn’t) gather with our large family of 20+ for our traditional holiday meals, but we can still pull out our favorite recipes, and make our family’s traditional dishes for those in our household. We can’t (or may not want to) embark on our typical travels to celebrate the holiday season with our loved ones, but we can use Zoom or FaceTime to play games virtually (read on to find some of our favorite games/activities to share with loved ones over a shared video screen!) for a new take on quality time.

It is critically important as adults that we impart this way of thinking on to our children in such a trying time. Little ears and little hearts learn their big lessons from us. Let them hear our recognition of disappointment, but also our choice to embrace the positives in precarious circumstances. Let us adjust our communication, perhaps in the form of “Well, we can’t do… and that’s a bummer. I’m disappointed, too. But, we can… and that is awesome! Let’s plan/come up with some fun ideas to make this special together!” Children love taking part in the planning of events and coming up with creative new ideas. Invite them into your holiday planning and see where the magic takes you! Gratefully, most children are “glass half full” thinkers naturally. Even when it seems we can only see the glass less than half full, let us remind ourselves to be more like our children, the ones who see the possibilities.

As with most everything else in 2020, the holiday shopping season is shaping up to be “different”, too. In light of the global pandemic, many retailers are foregoing the annual Black Friday shopping hours and instead featuring online Black Friday shopping deals that last all month long. Additionally, many retailers are offering free shipping, assisting in keeping shoppers home rather than in crowded aisles attempting to do the social distancing shuffle. Therefore, we encourage you to get a nice hot cup of coffee, tea, chai or chocolate and surf for some deals from the comfort of your own home!

You will notice that our gift list this year is geared towards children four to eight years old, and all gifts are selected with the goal of supporting social distancing and encouraging quality family time together with those in your home. Our gift guide this year also includes activities children can do independently or with their siblings, because we know, as parents ourselves, that we often need activities that will keep our children engaged as we complete some necessary adult tasks – whether that be answering emails or calls for work, or folding the ever-present piles of laundry. In addition, all of our gifts this year are moderately priced, as many families may be more financially restricted than in years past. We have also included a couple of great books that pair nicely with other gifts in the guide, and a couple of new favorite texts.

Our team at School Literacy & Culture wishes all of you a very happy holiday season. May you relish time with those you love, savor togetherness in new ways, and delight in what you can do in this unique holiday season.

2020 Gift Guide

Games

Games are a fantastic way to spend quality time around the table with those we love! These games foster a mix of strategic thinking, oral language development, executive functioning and literacy skills. Buy one or buy them all, our SLC staff is hooked on these favorites!

  1. Table Topics for Kids/ Table Topics Español Family Edition
  2. Qwirkle
  3. Ticket to Ride First Journey
  4. Boggle Jr. and Boggle
  5. Kanoodle Head to Head

Outdoor Play

With continued social distancing suggested, we are spending lots of time in our respective backyards for outdoor play! Here are a few of our favorite outside gifts that keep kids active and enjoying our temperate Houston winters.

  1. Slammo
  2. Ladder Golf
  3. Walkie-Talkies
  4. Audobon Backyard Birdwatcher Guide and Binoculars
  5. Outdoor Explorer Kit

Indoor Play

Gifts to inspire indoor play are a “must” in 2020! From craft activities to science experiments, keep your little ones’ hands and minds busy with these goodies. Paint some rocks with your children and place them around your neighborhood to spread joy to those that find them, build FuseBead creations to inspire new play ideas (parent help required J) around the house, and if you choose to give the Smithsonian Maker Lab book to a young child, consider including the materials to carry out one or two of the simple experiments. That way, children can jump right into the fun with no delay in needing to purchase or find the materials around the house!

  1. Fuse Beads Craft Kit
  2. Paint by Sticker Books
  3. Smithsonian Maker Lab Book
  4. Rock Painting Kit
  5. M& D Floor Puzzles

Books

If you know us at School Literacy & Culture, you know we cannot publish a gift guide without including some great children’s books! Here are a couple of our favorite texts to pair with other items on our gift guide, as well as a book to inspire children to try new things and another to help little ones understand the COVID19 crisis in a developmentally appropriate way.

  1. Scribble Stones (to go with Rock Painting Kit)
  2. National Geographic Kid’s World Atlas (to go with Ticket to Ride First Journey)
  3. National Geographic Bugopedia (to go with Outdoor Explorer Kit)
  4. The Koala Who Could (trying new things, examples from quarantine)
  5. And The People Stayed Home

P.S.
We wanted to share with you some ideas of things young children can do with loved ones on Zoom or FaceTime. If your children are anything like ours, it is hard to keep them engaged in virtual gatherings! We have found that playing games with grandparents, friends, and extended family members is a welcome way to connect and spend some meaningful time with others as we social distance. Some of our favorite games to play on Zoom are: Bingo, Charades, Pictionary, Guess Who?, Battleship and Scattergories. While some of these games require both parties to have the game (like Guess Who? and Battleship), others (like Bingo and Scattergories) only require one party to have the game. Completing a word search, crossword puzzle, or MadLib can also be a fun way to spend time together virtually! We’ve found that snapping a photo of the crossword or word search and sending it to the grandparents or friends works beautifully! Then, children and their loved one can sit together and complete the puzzle virtually. Again, there is so much we can’t do (or shouldn’t do) right now, but there is so much we still CAN! We’d love to hear ideas from you, too, about ways you’ve found to connect creatively with loved ones in this era of social distancing!

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