Shopping for kids from 5 to 10 years old has gotten a whole lot trickier than it used to be. Today’s kids are anxious to move from wooden blocks to electronic gadgets almost before they outgrow their car seats. Here are a few tips for parents who may find it challenging to select gifts that their children will enjoy, but that are also age appropriate and offer lasting value:

• Bring out their artistic side. Kids this age still have a natural love for art and creativity. Help inspire this by providing art kits filled with crayons, colored pencils, paper, modeling clay, pipe cleaners-you name it. Encourage them to start an art portfolio. There are also kits for varied interests, from painting and personalizing model cars and airplanes to decorating T-shirts and jeans.

• Gaming can be good for you. Choose an educational gaming system and big kids can play with their favorite movie and TV characters while also learning school skills. For example, LeapFrog’s Leapster2 offers kids ages 4 to 8 math and language arts practice through “Star Wars,” “WALL-E” and “Dora” titles. LeapFrog’s Didj, for 6- to 10-year-olds, lets kids and parents customize the educational content, incorporating a kid’s own homework into games like “Nicktoons,” “Indiana Jones” and “Hannah Montana.”

• Let’s get physical. There’s a sport and activity for every kid. Help them find the one they enjoy and give them gifts to inspire more active play. Kids always seem to enjoy getting a new ball-basketball, soccer ball, football, etc.-and for kids who are more into individual sports, gifts such as in-line skates, scooters, tennis rackets and boogie boards are fun and challenging.

• Get inspired with music. Not every child will be born with musical ability, but most kids love making music. If you don’t mind a little background music around the house, there are great gifts that will help introduce music to your kids and provide hours of fun. Children’s guitars, drum sets and keyboards are affordable and offer wonderful beginning experiences in music.

• There’s always time for family fun. They may not admit it, but big kids love activities the whole family can share. Classic board games are always fun and offer a great way to bring family members of all ages together on a rainy night or lazy weekend. Other pricier gifts that bring families together and can be used over the years include game tables such as ping-pong, air hockey and foosball.

For more information on educational gaming systems, visit www.leapfrog.com/gaming. – Courtesy of NAPS.


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