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Top 5 Gifts We’re Buying For the Kids In Our Lives

TLI staff members spend a lot of time thinking about what helps kids learn so naturally, we’re always ready to gab about the best holiday gifts for learning. Here are a few of the things we’re buying for the kids in our lives

  1. Gifts For the Budding Scientist

Science gifts are all about getting kids to observe the natural world. To offer tools for exploration, put together a simple nature box with an unbreakable magnifying glass, a kid-sized insect net, or a simple flower pressing kit. For an entirely whimsical gift, order acorn cap candles for just $10 or see if you can make your own. 

A subscription to Ranger Rick, a kid’s nature magazine published by The National Wildlife Federation, is a favorite gift for Chief of Staff Marissa King. The magazine is packed with great animal photos, snippets of information, and a strong environmental message.  For older kids, Executive Director and former science teacher Jo Lein likes Britannica’s virtual reality experiences .  Gifts for Pretend Play 

2. Gifts for Pretend Play

To get the kids in your life developing new skills and vocabulary through pretend play, add a few wooden toys to your holiday gifting. Executive Director Jo Lein likes the themed toys from Melissa and Doug for toddlers to pre-kindergarten age children. Her current favorite is the usable cleaning set with it’s own storage rack. 

We’re also impressed with wooden pretend toys like this sewing machine from Bella Luna Toys or the Magnolia’s Kitchen Aid look-alike mixer for kitchen play. 

  1. Gifts for the Little Builder

For hours of building fun and endless geometry experimentation, Director of Leader Programs Nina Fiterman-Blue suggests Magna-tiles, a pricey but long-lasting gift for kids of all ages. For a wooden building options, try Haba blocks ball tracks or castle theme blocks. For fort building, grab a set of Waldorf Clips to easily hold blankets and fabric in place while building motor skills. 

  1. Gifts for the Budding Artist

Nina Fitzerman-Blue, Director of Leader Programs, likes to keep it classic with paint or chalk. For an art teacher-approved gift, check out 3-in-1 Woody sets that act like wax crayons, watercolors, and window paints in one package. Even older kids will love the zen-like quality of Buddha boards that just require water to paint and disappear a few minutes later. 

  1. Gifts for Little Readers 

Books are always an appropriate gift–any age, any interest, anytime! Nina Fitzerman-Blue recommends the Dahl collection for ages 7-9. For more ideas, get in touch with your local bookstore (we love Fulton Street and Magic City Books here in Tulsa) or look for book round-up lists based on topic. 

In the year of Covid: Top 5 Gifts For Teachers

Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons

Each year, the TLI team puts together a list of our top gifts for teachers. This year, the circumstances are a little different. Teachers are balancing Covid health concerns, managing distance learning, and working around intermittent quarantine. It’s been a rocky year and teachers deserve our gratitude more than ever.  

To make gift giving easier, our staff rounded up the favorite gifts we’re giving to the teachers in our lives–those we coach, those that teach our own children, and those we count as friends or family.

We love gifts that make daily classroom instruction easier or more effective. For the techie teacher in your life, Executive Director Jo Lein suggests a subscription to Screencast-o-matic, an easy video-making platform. For the newer teachers who are creating teaching resources for the first time, Jo likes to give a Teachers Pay Teachers gift card

For those teaching in-person, consider the physical tools that keep classrooms organized and efficient. Director of Leader Programs, Nina Fitzerman-Blues suggests a portable laminator, especially for lower elementary teachers. She also swears by these colorful flip chart markers. For the most organized teacher in your life, grab a label maker but be warned, it’s addicting.

Gifts to keep teachers safe and healthy are always appropriate, especially as Covid remains top-of-mind for many teachers. Go basic with a pack of neutral Everlane face masks and vitamin-packed Emergen-C. Or upgrade to beautifully scented hand sanitizer from  Primally Pure and a thick lotion like this one from Jenkins and Co (Tulsa) to combat the dryness from hand washing and cold temperatures.

If you want to add a touch of relaxation to an otherwise troublesome year, look for gifts with extra panache. Genean Seals, Manager of Teacher Development, suggests the Feeling Fab-A Box for a monthly reminder to take care of yourself.

 We also love to gift twig candles from The Nest. All of the 16 scents are hand-poured a short walk away from our office in downtown Tulsa. Pro-tip: Ask The Nest to gift wrap. Their fancy feather embellishments never disappoint.

Make life a little easier for teachers who are broadcasting their lessons from home. Chief of Staff Marissa King likes to keep gifts cozy with a hot water kettle for tea, mess-free snacks, and a few festive touches like this colorful fair-trade garland.

There are plenty of great options for entirely virtual gift giving this year. It’s always a crowd pleaser to send a bag of beans from your favorite local coffee shop. If you want a gift that lasts all year long, check out coffee subscriptions that mail coffee each month. We also love the Dollar Tea Club which lets you customize the amount of tea you deliver each month starting at just $1.

Not sure what to send? You can’t go wrong with a delivery service gift card like GrubHub cards or Uber Eats.

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