gift guide: for a brainy almost 4-year-old

i’m gonna cut to the chase: this is my christmas list for adam. i know that gift guides are usually a bit more broad and general, but i know my own kids better than any others, so i thought i’d get really specific and just show you what we are literally buying for adam. he’ll be 4-years-old in january, so he’s already got a pretty good collection of classic toys like legos, magnatiles, thomas the tank engine, and about a million hot wheels. we’ve got art supplies up to our armpits. he’s still really into those things, so when i ask him what he wants, he basically just asks for more of the same. so i had to get a little more creative in thinking about what might spark his imagination.

and what i know about adam, is that he loves school. he’s in a primary program at an associate montessori internationale school. and while my primary concern at this age isn’t academics, i know that the curriculum there has really captured his interest. every day after school, he tells me about his lessons on the solar system and geography. he loves drawing maps of the world and identifying the planets. they start broad, and then focus in on tiny details like the lifecycle of a butterfly or the cross-section of a pumpkin. he gets to dig into the earth and plant flowers, fruits, and veggies to watch them grow. it’s such a beautiful, fascinating world. so i decided to compliment what he’s learning with some fun toys. no pressure to be academic at home, just free play with a focus on the subjects that i know he really loves.

1. areaware blockitecture parkland and areaware blockitecture deco – when i asked adam what he wanted for christmas this year, the only thing he asked for that he didn’t already have was “a city.” it took me a while to figure out what he meant, but after doing some sleuthing, we settled on this set of blocks. he already has one set of buildings by the same brand, and he plays with magnatiles and legos almost every day. these fun geographical features like pastures, rivers, trees, and bushes will help to round out his collection quite well.

2. all kinds of cars – since day one, adam has been obsessed with vehicles. i know it’s a phase that will eventually pass, but he’s still on that kick. this illustrated guide is a dream come true for a child that loves reference books like adam. oftentimes, when he sees something remarkable, he asks if we can “look it up” in a book so he can read about it or draw comparisons. i’m not kidding. but what’s fun about this book is that it has a sense of humor. i just know that adam will be cracking up at the carrot car and the igloo car.

3. atlas of adventures – i don’t know anyone who loves maps quite as much as adam does. he loves when we pull out regular city maps, but i know that what he really wants is an atlas of his own. he likes being able to point out the different continents and countries, so this illustrated guide is going to be hours of enjoyment for this kid.

4. tegu magnetic building blocks – with the cars again, i know. adam already has more hot wheels than i can count, so i think these tegu magnetic blocks will be great fuel for his imaginaion. he can dream up some new cars of his own!

5. seedling galaxy rocket adventure cape set – what’s really great about this set is that it will make for hours of imaginative play, but it starts out as an activity so that you can customize it however you’d like. double duty!

6. professor astro cat – i know this book is recommended for kid’s a little bit older, but i think it’s fun to start exploring things a bit out of reach with the help of mom and dad. some of the picture books can get monotonous, reading them over and over again. a reference book like this is fun because we can be a bit more open ended about the subject matter and spark conversations instead of just reciting words from a book. we have the first book from this series and adam loves it, so this will be fun to add to our rotation.

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