I hope you will consider how the gifts you choose for grandchildren, nieces, and nephews build relationships and generate storytelling, sharing, and yes, even learning.
- Updated for 2017
- Originally posted October 22nd, 2015
Disclosure: Gabrielle Polt Balkan, author of The 50 States is my step-daughter. Other than parental pride per the atlas, and the Amazon Associates links, I received no compensation for any items in this review. All opinions are my own.
I suggest a set of gifts that include: an atlas, a board game, and a puzzle. Classic gifts. Tactile, interactive gifts are perfect for after meals and afternoons during family visits. And if you are clever about it, no one will ever know that these gifts were all frames for promoting legacy storytelling and sharing family history.
The 50 States: Explore the U.S.A with 50 fact-filled maps!
I would love this book even if it was not written by a kid whom I first took to many of the spots listed on the Arizona page of the Atlas, such as the Copper Queen in Bisbee, where we made her, as a teenager, stay in a room with her twerpy little sister.
This freshly pressed atlas is so much more than a geography book. It is fun and interesting. Just look what honchos in the publishing industry say about it.
“A stylish atlas that evokes the character and diversity of the country, equally suitable for coffee tables or family vacations.” – Publisher’s Weekly
I totally agree with PW; it is a great edition for a Grandma’s coffee table.
Update: 50 Cities is now also available! As is The Book of Bones. Yes, both by Gabe, step-daughter extraordinaire.
The Book of Bones is not geographic, but you can talk about all the places you can find the bones or the animals that have the bones.
I was lucky enough to discover the the Binkele Family booth at the March 2015 Tucson Festival of Books with their Kickstarter-funded, Mensa award-winning game, Trekking the National Parks.
Trekking the National Parks is for ages 12 and up, but I suspect there are some younger folks who can handle the demands of the game. And of course pairing older and younger participants into two person teams allows younger kids to join in the game playing.
Why this puzzle, because it encourages talking about place. You know, the place where Grandma lives, the place where your mother was born, the places we went to on vacation when your mom was a kid. National parks are also a wonderful tool for learning geography. State capitals are okay, but parks and grizzly bear, geysers, and other park- associated animals and wonders provide memorable links for recalling places.
You may order directly from the family business site too.
Travel is a great subject for story-starting, so if you want a game for another age level or travel subject I recommend starting at this post on the Vamo blog that covers 24 travel-themed games.
Plan on spending an evening browsing the jigsaw puzzles you will find on Amazon. For this trio of gifts, you can find a perfect for family fun for all ages with a puzzle.
The items that caught my eye, and interest, when I researched puzzles for this article were not travel-related as much as place- or time-related. What a great backdrop for discussing life on the farm or a particular city.
Are these not the cutest, retro puzzles for talking to a small child about what life was like when you were their age?
You can do travel-themed, complex, Ravensburger, 1000 piece puzzles or simpler Melissa and Doug puzzles, but if you are going with the suggested geography theme for younger kids, I recommend GeoPuzzles. Why?
- They offer varied world and country specific maps.
- There are maps in multiple languages.
- Most importantly, the puzzle pieces are the shape of the country.
There is no better gift than the gift of conversation, unless of course it is an educational and fun gift given with love.