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Holiday gifts to learn with

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By GreatSchools Staff

6. Check museum catalogs and visit museum gift shops, which often have an area devoted to products geared to children.

These are excellent places to find toys that stimulate curiosity and creativity. A few to get you started:

7. Ask for suggestions from teachers, other parents, childcare providers and knowledgeable toy retailers.

Although you'll want to base your choice for learning gifts primarily on your child's interests, you can get some useful suggestions from others who have had firsthand experience with products you are considering.

8. Pick toys that fit your budget and your values.

Sometimes that "gotta have" toy is out of line with your budget and/or your values. Don't be worn down or made to feel guilty if everyone else on the block is buying the latest expensive video game or the GI Joe doll that doesn't mesh with your anti-war stance. There are plenty of reasonably priced, high-quality alternatives that fit your values.

9. Consider safety.

Avoid buying toys for younger children that have lots of small parts or sharp edges. If your school-age child must have that chemistry set to stimulate her interest in science, plan for a responsible adult to be available to supervise.

10. Make sure it's fun!

"A toy or children's product is supposed to entertain the child. It should amuse, delight, excite and be enjoyable," notes Dr. Toy. No toy or game is going to keep your child's interest unless it is fun to play with, offers lasting play value and puts a smile on his face.

Comments from readers

"These are great ideas! Thanks."