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Helping Busy Moms Balance Diapers and Deadlines

Lisa Tanner Writing

Helping Moms Balance Diapers and Deadlines

Last Modified on November 26, 2023 By Lisa Tanner

25 Gifts for Kids to Inspire a Love of Writing

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can find my full disclosure page here .

Are you looking for the perfect gift to give the young writers in your life? Here are 25 writing gifts for kids that can help inspire their love for writing.  

I love giving gifts, and planning the perfect present for each person is something I genuinely enjoy.

But I’m not fond of clutter. With 11 kids to buy for, stuff piles up quickly!

So I try to think of gifts for kids and adults alike that don’t just take up space. I like things that have a purpose. And the 25 items below do just that.

They’re all items that I’ve either used or seen in use that are perfect gifts for young writers. You’ll find some items that work better for younger kids (pre-writers) and others that are great for older kids (or teens). Most work for a wide age range.

And no matter which one you go with, they’re all a great addition to your Family Writing Time routine. Then you can get some of your work done while your child explores the art of writing.

If you’re looking for a fun (but educational!) gift, give one of these a try. They are all items I highly recommend.

learning to write gifts

1. A cute notebook and a pack of fun pens

Do you know what your child needs to write? Paper and pens (or pencils.) That’s it. And sometimes, the simplest gifts are the best. If you want your child to write, make sure they always have access to a journal or notebook of their own and have pens or pencils to write with.

Here are a few of the writing supplies my kids love:

  • And So the Adventure Begins notebook
  • Unicorn notebooks (my 6-year-old daughter really likes hers!)
  • Minecraft notebook (a favorite of my 8-year-old son who enjoys writing about Minecraft in his…)
  • Color-changing Scented Pens   (a stocking stuffer for my kids this year…)
  • Smencils (we buy a large pack of these scented pencils to split up at the beginning of each school year)

You might notice a theme…I like to give my kids notebooks that are themed by their current interests. It helps to make it more fun for them, and since a notebook doesn’t last too long I don’t worry about them outgrowing their interest in it before they fill all the pages…

What does your child enjoy? See if there are any notebooks or pens/pencils with that theme.

2. A Boogie Board

I was introduced to these awesome boards back when I was a teacher at a local parent partnership program. Several of my students were raving about them.

They seriously remind me of something I enjoyed as a kid–sort of like a MagnaDoodle, but in a pad with a pen attached. Then, you could lift the page and magically erase what you wrote. (Do you remember those?)

But the Boogie Board is that toy from my past with a fantastic facelift. It’s seriously cool and feels high-tech.

Can you see your young kids practicing writing their letters and names on this thing?

How about your middles playing Tic-Tac-Toe and creating lists?

It’s useful and fun for writing of all sorts. We have several and often bring them to church for our younger kids to doodle on to help them sit quietly. I highly recommend them!

3. The Game In a Pickle

So creative writing needs creative thinking. And this game delivers on that front! It’s one of the many in my massive board game collections.

Each of the many cards in the game features one word. Your goal is to show how your card is bigger or smaller than the other cards on the table. You want to complete a set to get points.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. When you have words like “nothing” and “tornado,” and you’re trying to fit them into the words already on the table, you’ll have to flex your creative muscles.

This game is for older kids (it’s recommended 10+ though I have had 8-year-olds successfully play), and is one that won’t drive adults crazy!

4. LeapFrog ABC Backpack

If you’re looking for a toy to help your pre-writers spend more time learning about letters and how to write them, check this awesome gift out!

It’s from LeapFrog and it’ll help make writing fun for your little ones. There are activities your child can do, such as learning how to make letters into animals, or they can just play on their own.

I like that it closes securely and then your child can wear it as a backpack. It’s a fun one to bring along on road trips – if your little one won’t toss the letters everywhere.

A couple of my daughters have really enjoyed diaries over the years. They make a fun place to write stories, personal reflections, or anything else that comes to mind.

And while you can use any old notebook to write these things in, special diaries make the process more enjoyable. Diaries come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colors, so see what you can find that your kids enjoy.

We’ve had fuzzy unicorn diaries like this one:

Character-themed diaries like this:

And simple, locking diaries like this:

Pick one up and encourage your child to write without worrying too much about grammar, spelling, and all those other rules. After all, it’s a personal, “kid-friendly” form of writing!

6. Create a Story Cards

This is my go-to gift for preschoolers and early elementary kiddos. It’s so much fun! And boy, does it engage the reading and writing portion of the brain.

Here’s a post I wrote a while back on my homeschooling blog showing 15 different ways to inspire literacy with Tell Me a Story. (Please note that the game has changed names since then. It used to be Tell Me a Story…) Whatever you call it, it’s fun!

This game makes an excellent addition to a family game collection. Best of all, there are multiple versions you can choose from, so pick out your favorite or get them all.

7. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Writers are often inspired by others. And this book by Mo Willems offers the perfect springboard for creating your own version. I used this book to teach writing workshops to students in grades K-6. Almost all of the kids loved it!

Pair this present with some drawing paper and a pack of markers. Then, your child will everything needed to create a sequel to this book.

learning to write gifts

8. Lettering Books

I’ve enjoyed doodling with letters ever since fourth grade when our first day of school assignment was to come up with a unique way to write our name. My teacher gave us a quick overview of bubble letters, script letters, and a variety of others.

A couple of my kids enjoy making “fancy writing” too. While they aren’t quite old enough for a calligraphy book, this kid friendly Book of Hand Lettering is the perfect way for them to learn more and practice.

Writing practice is writing practice, and if the kids are inspired to create beautiful letters, let them!

9. Stationary

Who doesn’t enjoy receiving a good old-fashioned letter in the mail? I know I do! And so do my kids. It’s just different than emails.

While you can get out a sheet of plain paper to write on, my kids prefer something like this:

There’s something special about beautiful paper! And writing by hand is a different skill than typing. You really have to think about what you’re going to say before you jump in.

learning to write gifts

You can find this fancy writing paper in many different styles. Characters, animals, floral patterns, and more are available. So find something that you know your child would love and go with that.

Then get them Grandma’s address (or a friend who moved away, or someone else …) and encourage them to write. You might even take a trip to the post office together to mail it.

learning to write gifts

10. Blog Hosting

Do you have teens? Hook them up with blog hosting and a blog all their own.

I switched to FastComet at the beginning of 2018, and have been super impressed! My site speed is faster, their customer service is superb, and my traffic is growing.  When I first started out, I used BlueHost , and it worked well at first. However, as my traffic grew, it started having some problems.

Since you’ll want your teen to have a say in the domain , a gift certificate or card will probably be the best way to present this gift. Then you can sit down together and fill in all the details before purchasing.

Encouraging your child to blog now will help her understand that what is published online will be seen by others. It’s a good way to teach internet safety while still allowing some freedom to create.

Just be sure to subscribe to your teen’s blog. That way you know what’s being published!

And if you need more ideas for Christmas gifts for teens , be sure to check out Miranda’s great list of ideas!

11. Mad Libs Books

I like Mad Libs! Back in high school, when my husband was just my boyfriend, he created a Mad Libs-style game on my graphing calculator. He also programmed it with some helpful math programs that made calculus a breeze, but let’s not talk about that okay?

That Mad Libs game helped me get through the long bus ride I had every day.

And now our kids enjoy the book form of these. They’re a fun way to practice parts of speech and create super silly stories.

Mad Libs make a great gift before a road trip!

12. A Stop Motion Movie Kit

My oldest loves animation and creating videos. She’ll spend hours working on getting her storyboard figured out and deciding how to tell her story.

If your child is into movie-making, there’s a ton of writing involved! You can’t tell a good story without actually telling a story, after all. So, a Stop-Motion movie kit is a good gift.

Here’s a fun kit for a beginner. Using familiar characters helps get the inspiration going:

Here’s a more in-depth review I wrote on my other blog:

My Review of the Stop Motion Animation Kit from Stopmotion Explosion

And here’s a pic of one of my daughters using it when she was younger:

learning to write gifts

13.  A Stamp Set

Do you remember the stories that use pictures instead of some words? They’re called rebus stories.

Let your child create his own with fun stamp sets.

We enjoy these wooden stamp sets from Melissa & Doug. The stamps are very durable!

Also, adding colored pencils allows your kids to design backgrounds for the story so they can create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

14. Spy Codes

learning to write gifts

Secret messages have been used throughout history and are so much fun to create!

15. A Book Making Kit

My fifth-grade teacher implemented a Writing Workshop. Back then, it was a very new trend.

Several times a week, we wrote. Once we had the text written and edited, we had to “publish” it. This meant we got to pick out wallpaper to create a cover with. Then, we typed the story and printed it out.

We actually used scissors and glue to cut out paragraphs and arrange them on pages. Then, we illustrated.

At the end of the school year, I had a dozen or so finished books. I still have one of them. In it,  my older sister went off to space to join the Star Trek crew after getting sucked into the TV. It’s definitely goofy, but my kids liked looking at it.

learning to write gifts

This one allows you to either mail in your child’s words and illustrations or complete them online. Once you submit them, you’ll get back a printed version of your child’s book. What a great gift!

16.  Story Starters

With a good supply of story starters, your child will be inspired to create many new stories. But don’t feel like your child has actually to write stories for each one.

They can create:

  • A comic book
  • A scrapbook of pictures and captions

For the younger crowd (beginning writers and up), I recommend this book:

It’s geared for kids in the 1st-3rd grade. For older kids, there’s another version:

17. Man Bites Dog

In case you haven’t noticed by now, I really love board games (and card games!) They really are a fun way to practice all sorts of skills.

This is one I gave to my little sister one year. We bought our own copy since it’s so much fun. This game is best for older kids (it’s rated 8+, but I think slightly older is probably better, just because they’ll have more exposure to the concept of headlines.)

Your goal is to create the best, most outrageous headline from the word cards you have. Each card has a specific point value assigned, so you want to earn the most points you can from each headline.

learning to write gifts

You can also modify it for single player fun. Just let your child pull out the cards and start building headlines. 

The best gifts for kids who love to write

18. The Game of Life Goals Card Game

Might as well keep going with the games–there are so many to inspire a love of writing! (Here’s a different post with the top 10 Writing Board Games for Kids !)

This game isn’t like the traditional Game of Life we all know. There’s no little tiny blue and pink people to shove into  a station wagon and drive around the board. No buildings or bridges to awkwardly shove into slots. An easy game. Let’s all breathe a sigh of relief!

It’s just cards. And fun.

While you CAN play the game like the rules recommend, I don’t usually. I use it mainly as a solo activity.

I let my kids pick through each type of card to create an amazing life story. They can use as many cards as they want, but they have to connect to each other in a fluid story.

This makes them apply some critical thinking skills, make decisions, and create a story.

When they’re done, they get to tell me the story they created.

learning to write gifts

19. Telestrations

learning to write gifts

Basically, this is the telephone game on paper. You take turns drawing and writing captions. Then when the pages are full, you look back over the entire chain to see what went wrong.

Like when your 8 year old thinks that the dinosaur you drew was a flying dog. It was clearly not a flying dog, for the record! So much fun, and it requires writing.

20. Comic Book Creator Kit

I loved reading Uncle Scrooge comic books as a kid! And Mickey Mouse. Oh yeah, I can’t forget Donald Duck. I liked all of the Disney comics really.

learning to write gifts

21. The Pictello App

I first heard about this from a fellow Angelman Syndrome mom. So I promptly installed the Pictello app on both my phone and my son’s iPad.

He isn’t yet able to create stories, but he enjoys listening to the ones that are preinstalled. I’ve had the other kids use it to create stories too.

You can import your pictures from your camera roll, record audio, and add text. It’s a fairly easy to use story making app.

22. Lego Duplo Alphabet Train

Have a young pre-writer in your life? Here’s the perfect gift. This Mega Bloks set features a train that carries a block with each letter of the alphabet. With it, your little one can practice:

  • Putting letters in alphabetical order
  • Spelling simple words
  • Letter identification
  • Matching letter blocks to letters they see in a book

You can even hide a couple of the blocks around the room and see if they can find each letter that’s missing. There are so many possibilities with this alphabet train!

23. Paint Your Own Story Stones

Does your child enjoy painting? They can put their love of art to work with these story stones . The set comes with some rocks for your child to paint. Then, they can use those to inspire a story for them to tell.

Your child can create their own characters and settings to paint, or use some familiar classics. Then they can mix and match the stones to tell one unique story after another.

And if you want a cute story to go with it, try Scribble Stones!

24.  Puppet Theater

Your child can create their own puppet shows with this adorable set. It’s made from wood and holds up fairly well to frequent use. However, make sure you check the dimensions, especially if you’re planning on having more than one kid use it.

It’s smaller than I originally thought and is definitely meant to sit up on a tabletop or something. Someday I’ll have my husband make us a bigger one maybe.

learning to write gifts

Of course, you’ll want to get some puppets to go along with this gift. Here are a few fun options from Melissa and Doug:

  • Safari Set 
  • Palace Pals 
  • Farm Friends

25.  Writing for Minecrafters Book

I never imagined I’d be buying Minecraft themed grammar and writing book, but here we are. My kids absolutely love Minecraft. And, this writing book is actually pretty well done. You can get a sample of what it’s like with the Look Inside, so definitely check it out.

It has some basic instruction in it to help kids learn more about grammar and sentence structure. Then they can use what they learn to improve their writing. There are plenty of Minecraft themed pictures throughout.

One of my sons really liked the reading one when he was younger

There are plenty of other options too, so pick a couple and make a Minecraft Learning bundle for your kids. Add a couple of Minecraft themed pencils and you’ve got a wonderful gift that your child can take along on a trip or use to fill some free time.

What are your favorite gifts for young writers?

Have you used any products with your kids this year that made you stop and go, “Wow!”? I’d love for you to share them with me in the comments.

learning to write gifts

Lisa Tanner

Lisa Tanner is a former teacher turned homeschooling mom with 11 kids. She's also a successful freelance writer. Lisa enjoys helping other busy moms find time to start and grow a side hustle of their own.

Reader Interactions

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December 6, 2016 at 7:04 pm

Great list, Lisa! My 15 yr old actually just bought a domain name and blog hosting for himself. But for Christmas we might buy him a theme through Genesis. His blog is all about rock n roll since that is what he’s in to right now. He’ll do lists like “Top 50 Beatles Songs of All Time”. These lists take him quite a bit of time to compose. When I went to his site and read his posts I was really impressed with the quality and creativity of his writing. Blogging really is a wonderful way to improve your writing skills. What also amazed me was how fast he was able to navigate the WordPress dashboard (without ever having seen it before). It took him about 5 minutes to learn something that would take me hours to figure out…lol!

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December 6, 2016 at 7:10 pm

Thanks Carrie. Sounds like your son is off to a great blogging start! A theme is a great way to encourage him.

Those long list posts are definitely time consuming, so he’ll be getting some great writing practice. And it won’t even feel like work to him because it’s something he loves. That’s awesome!

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December 17, 2016 at 2:26 am

I think all of the things are great ideas. I wish I had these when my daughter was growing up. I also started a website http://www.childrenstoystores.com/ it took me almost a year to create. I had help from a friend to build it. These ideas are going to help a lot of kids learn different ways to write.

December 18, 2016 at 5:15 am

Hi Lynn, thanks so much for stopping by. There are some fabulous items in your inventory that can help inspire a love of learning as well.

December 18, 2016 at 5:28 am

I’m so glad you took the time to look at my website. Do you have any suggestions for toys that might be more inspiring to different children? I would love to hear what you think.

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learning to write gifts

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10 Great Gift Ideas to Get Kids Reading and Writing

Inspire kids to read and write with these 10 gift ideas. 

Gifts to get kids reading and writing

My kids have plenty of toys…PLENTY.

The last thing we need in our house is another American Girl accessory or craft kit that lets kids make wallets out of duck tape.

So when it’s my turn to give my girls gifts – for their birthday or Christmas – I try my best to find items they will enjoy but that will also have a purpose (other than cluttering our house).

Add to that my goal of raising kids who love to read and write and bingo – anything that is both fun and encourages these skills is a perfect combination in my book (no pun intended).

There are so many wonderful gift options that encourage reading and writing – whether it be subscription boxes, fun, high-interest magazines, or journals that can be shared among kids and parents – the only problem is making a choice!

Gift Certificates to Local Bookstores

There is nothing my girls love more than being able to purchase their own books at a bookstore. Support one of your local bookstores by buying a gift card. Makes a great stocking stuffer.

To find a local bookstore near you see this guide .

Book Series

Getting kids hooked on a book series lets kids become immersed in a story and grow a love for reading. There are so many great book series available – many in box sets perfect for gift giving. Here are just a few:

learning to write gifts

For younger kids:

  • Eric Carle Mini Library
  • Ivy & Bean
  • Junie B. Jones
  • Ramona collection
  • The Boxcar Children

learning to write gifts

For older kids:

  • Harry Potter
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid
  • Roald Dahl books
  • The Hardy Boys

Magazine subscriptions

Magazines are a great way to engage kids in reading. The key is to find a subject that interests your child – and there are many possibilities! Some favorites include:

  • Literary magazines: Stone Soup (ages 10 and up),  Click (ages 9-14 years), Spider (ages 6-9), Ladybug (ages 3-6 years), Babybug (0-3 years)
  • Science magazines: Muse  (ages 9-14 years), Ask  (ages 6-9 years), National Geographic Kids  (ages 6 and up), National Geographic Little Kids (ages 3-6 years), Ranger Rick (ages 7 and up), Ranger Rick Jr. (ages 4-7 years)
  • Culture/History magazines: Cobblestone  (ages 9-14 years), Faces  (ages 9-14 years), Dig (ages 9-14 years)
  • Sports magazines: Sports Illustrated Kids
  • Magazines for girls: New Moon Girls ,  American Girl,
  • Cooking magazine: Chop Chop
  • General interest magazines: Time for Kids ,   Highlights (ages 6-12 years), High Five (ages 2-6 years),  Humpty Dumpty (ages 3-5 years), Jack and Jill (ages 6-10 years)

When it’s not possible to read books, audiobooks can be a fantastic way to get kids engaged in stories and introduce them to new books. We listen to Audible books while driving – either around town or on a long car trip.

Book subscriptions services

Book subscription services send kids new books each month to enjoy – what kid wouldn’t love the combination of getting a package in mail and being introduced to new books?

image of bookroo subscription box and books

  • Bookroo : A Bookroo subscription can be purchased in 1 month, 3 month, 6 month, and 12 month subscriptions and is available in four clubs for kids ages 0-3, 3-6, 7-10, and 9-12.
  • STEM Reads book club : STEM is a monthly book box that introduces children (ages 4-8) to different topics in science, technology, engineering, and math. Each box contains 2+ kid-friendly books.

See 11 Delightful Children’s Book Subscription Boxes for more suggestions.

Kids Journals

Journals can be a fun way to encourage kids to write. Finding a fun blank book works for some kids but having a few prompts can make for a fun activity. Here are two journals that our family has fun using:

learning to write gifts

  • Q & A a Day for Kids: a Three Year Journal : Each page in this journal asks kids a question and contains three sections to write an answer. It’s a fun way for kids to see how their responses change over the years.
  • Just Between Us: Mother & Daughter: A No-Stress, No-Rules Journal (See also the version for sons and moms here ): Moms and daughters share their opinions and feelings in this easy and fun journal.

Personalized Books

learning to write gifts

Wonderbly offers a series of books that are personalized to kids – themes include a birthday story, an adventure book featuring your child’s favorite things, and My Golden Ticket, a personalized story based on Roald Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Make Your Own Book Services

Let kids become their own author with Lulu Junior’s bookmaking kits . You can choose between purchasing the Comic book kit or IlluStory that lets kids write and illustrate their own tale.

Board Games

learning to write gifts

Kids won’t realize that they’re actually building word knowledge, vocabulary, and reading skills with these fun board games:

  • Scrabble and Scrabble Jr. : kids always have fun with these classics. The junior version is best for kids who are still learning how to spell.
  • Apples to Apples and Apples to Apples Jr. : This comical game is one of the most popular games in our house. And best of all, kids are introduced to new words while playing.
  • Blurt : In this fast-moving game, players listen to a definition and then try to blurt out the correct word as quickly as they can.
  • Zingo! Sight Words : Help younger kids learn their sight words with this bingo format.

Giving a child a gift subscription to Epic provides instant access to 25,000 book titles for kids 12 and under. A great resource for kids who are picky about which books they read and perfect for road trips where taking multiple books isn’t possible.

Accessories to make reading fun

Sometimes having the right reading space can inspire kids to read more. Swinging chairs can be the perfect place for kids to get cozy with a book while a reading light makes nighttime reading possible and a fun bookmark makes reading just a little more special.

  • Owl bookmark
  • Pod swing chair

learning to write gifts

11 Delightful Children’s Book Subscription Boxes

14 Children’s Books That Promote a Growth Mindset

How to Raise Kids Who Love to Read

Gifts to get kids reading and writing

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PRE-WRITING GIFT PACK: Stage 1 (Ready To Post)

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PLEASE NOTE - This pack comes non-personalised (posted within 1-3 days or ordering) and does NOT include the personalised mat.  A redeemable unique code will be included in this pack for the recipient to order their personalised mat at a later date via the website.

Personalised orders can take 1-5 weeks from being ordered to being posted depending on when in the month the order is placed and £2 postage charge will apply.

Don't need it in a hurry or as a gift... then  click here  to view the the personalised pre-writing set available in green, pink and blue.

Pre-writing skills are the key skills children require before they are able to write.

These skills contribute greatly to the child’s ability to draw, colour and write and play a major role in their ability to  hold and use a pencil.

The 9 key pre-writing shapes make up most letters and numbers and your child will typically be able to master these shapes with practice when they are developmentally ready (see photo gallery for 'what to expect').

Our pre-writing learning mats are designed to help your child practice tracing and copying the key shapes and patterns required before moving onto letter formation. They build confidence making sure your child is truly ready to start forming letters.

Pushing a child to learn to write too early can be detrimental to their future learning in all subject areas so it is very important to take their time and get it right to avoid forming bad habits.

Why choose our learning mats?

  • A gradual approach to learning to write, designed to aid confidence and development independent letter formation (stage 1, stage 2, stage 3)
  • Our letter formation mats have clear 'starting stars' so the child knows where to begin the pencil movement and 'ending dots' so they know where to finish.  
  • Colourful and bright to make 'learning fun'!
  • Minimal guidelines on the name mat so less daunting for younger children.
  • Directional arrows can be added if required (select on checkout)
  • Recommended for ages 3 years and above
  • Wipeable/Reusable
  • Double-sided
  • Recommended by primary school teachers
  • Great reviews by parents

What's Included?

  • 3 x double wipeable* sided mats (A4 in size)
  • Pen control | Tracing Shapes | Pre-writing patterns
  • Redeemable code for Name Mat**

*Use any felt tip pen and wipe away with or damp cloth

Personalised orders can take 1-5 weeks from being ordered to being posted depending on when in the month the order is placed.  A £2 postage charge will apply.

A pen is not included, to purchase a special triangular pen to aid correct finger positioning  click here

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The LLJ Mini School's collection of ABC flashcards is suitable for newborns and toddlers. Cruise through the imaginative world and Deuteranomaly eyes of Lou Lou James ® Art & Illustration Director, Brian L, as each of the doubled 26 cards (52pcs) was thoughtfully hand-drawn and illustrated with not just one alphabet and a character, but playfully added along with an additional object for creative thinking too! 

Be ready to get excited as The LLJ Mini School's upcoming range of learning reads and writes aim to spark imaginations, creating the most magical story within every child's mind. 

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Note  |  Lou Lou James ® exclusive gift collections are all packed in the signature 'Golden Horse' box wrapped with its premium trademarked satin ribbon in white. Personalised handwritten gift cards are available, wishes and greetings can be added under the 'note' section upon checkout.

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Gift Ideas for Pre-Readers and Pre-Writers

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Gift Ideas for Pre-Readers and Pre-Writers | This Reading Mama

The “Why” Behind These Gift Ideas

I refer often to my teaching philosophy, which I call the M&M’s of learning . Children {really, all ages} learn concepts and skills through multiple and meaningful exposure . For me, the multiple and meaningful go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other. Kids need to have multiple exposure through meaningful experiences. This way, they are able to make meaningful connections with concepts multiple times, enabling concepts to “stick” better.

The gift ideas* I’m sharing today are those that have been tried and true for me as a classroom teacher of young children, but also of my own four children at home. Before “formal” preschool instruction ever began for my own kids at home, I exposed {and still am exposing my youngest} to the various aspect of literacy by using the M&M’s of learning. For young children, that means being intentional about providing daily time for them to explore and play with literacy through meaningful text, toys, and manipulatives, such as the ones in this list below.

*Please be sure to keep your child’s development in mind when purchasing and using these products. Always supervise your young child if the product has small parts or pieces.

1. No Mess Writing Tools – I’m not a huge fan of messes. My youngest learners get lots of exposure with no mess writing tools. Our absolute favorites are: MagnaDoodle , AquaDoodle , and the GloDoodle . The MagnaDoodle and GloDoodle are probably my kids’ favorites. I also like them because the writing tool provided is smaller in diameter, which encourages the conventional tripod grip.

2. ABC Stamps – I love using letter manipulatives, like letter stamps , to introduce kids to spelling before they are ever able to hold a pencil and write the letters themselves. Plus, what kid doesn’t like to play with stamps? 😉

3. Magnetic Letters – With my youngest pre-readers {for example, NSis, who is currently 21 months}, I use the jumbo letters to spell her name on a cookie sheet. We “cook” her name in our little kitchen set and just play with “her” letters. She also likes me to put them in a mixing bowl as she pulls one out at a time, holds it up to me and I say the letter name/sound. Simple. For older pre-writers, like my 3 year old, we use the smaller magnetic letters and spell names of people in our family or objects around the house.

4. Collapsible Lap Desk – I cannot say enough good things about these adorable lap desks . My favorite thing is that they open up and kids can store things inside. We’ve taken them on car rides and used them to explore and write/draw about nature outside. In my opinion, these lap desks are better than the cheaper ones you see at craft stores because they’re very sturdy and they are collapsible…meaning you can store them in such a tiny space! LOVE these!

5. Fine Motor Toys – Pre-Writers might not be able to hold a pencil and write, yet…but that doesn’t mean they can’t work on the fine motor muscles needed for writing in a fun way! I have seen these cute scoops, and this year our youngest is getting these for Christmas. I know ALL my kids will enjoy scooping and playing, while strengthening those finger muscles needed for writing. There are TONS of other toys that strengthen find motor skills, like these pegs , lacing beads , or Pop-Art Beads (contains small pieces).

6. Dress Up Clothes – My kids love to dress up . And dress up time is such a great time to play with storytelling. Storytelling prepares kids for the structure and features of fiction reading as they get older. In other words, is GREAT for teaching comprehension in a fun and hands-on way!

7. Toys that Foster Visual Discrimination – In order for kids to be able to tell one letter from another, they have to be able to discriminate between them visually. Puzzles and games like Memory Match do just this. You can purchase wooden puzzles {I like Melissa & Doug’s puzzles } or foam puzzles {I found some at our $1 store}. Puzzles that feature the alphabet are great { this one is currently my youngest child’s favorite} or themed puzzles to suit the interests of your child.

learning to write gifts

8. LeapFrog Products – We have many of their magnetic fridge toys . Kids are expose to letters and their sounds in a playful way. The fridge DJ is probably my kids’ favorite and I love the way it integrates music into learning {They’ve really gone up in price, so I would try to buy one used if you can}. For my older pre-readers, Leapfrog’s Alphabet DVDs have been a hit.

9. Easy Open and Close Scissors – By far, the Maped Koopy Spring Scissors are my favorite for younger learners. We have two pair {My kids started them around age 2.5 cutting straight lines}. You can seriously cut down on the frustration level of using scissors with these. Scissors are also a fun way to strengthen those fine motor muscles used for writing.

10. Fun Writing Utensils – Sidewalk chalk, crayons for the bathtub , fun markers, crayons, colored pencils…any kind of writing utensil you can find that makes writing fun…USE IT!

11. Music CD’s and DVD’s – The rhyming patterns found in songs increases a child’s phonological awareness, a foundation for reading and writing! Play, sing, and dance together. Point out the rhyming words in the songs as you sing. I would say the top favorite CD’s for my younger learners {including those in the classrooom} are Greg & Steve with Raffi coming in a close second.

12. Big Spaces to Write and Draw – Pre-writers typically do not possess the fine motor skills to trace letters or even write letters on those lined pieces of paper. Instead, they need to be given bigger spaces to explore with writing/drawing, like an easel {ours is from IKEA }, blank drawing paper, and/or the driveway.

13. Kids’ Laptop – We have an older laptop one similar to this one . My kids, as young toddlers, liked toys that had buttons. So I figured I’d give them something that would enforce letter names and sounds at the same time.

Looking for More Gift Ideas?

  • 50 Gift Ideas: No Batteries Required
  • 10+ Activities for Toddlers: Before the Small Manipulatives
  • The ABC’s of Learning Toys and Manipulatives : you can find hundreds of ideas in this 5-day series
  • Educational Toys Pinterest board – Here is where I collect ideas for educational toys.

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December 2, 2013 at 8:08 pm

Great list of ideas. We have many of these for our 4 year old. An easel is on my want list for him for Christmas and I had not seen the IKEA one yet. Do you know if either of the sides is magnetic? Would really like an easel that has at least one side magnetic to make and write works.

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December 3, 2013 at 5:09 am

No, it is not magnetic on either side. Sorry.

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