I am pretty sure you've had this moment. You give your toddler an award-winning toy. He opens it, looks at the toy with a blank expression, and proceeds to play with the box that the toy came in for the whole day. No, toys do not always spark joy in children. Take my 6-year old daughter whom I do believe doesn’t like toys. She tinkers with them a few minutes and then says, “Mom, let’s give these to (names a cousin or friend), she’ll really like these.”
Our kids say they love toys, but sometimes it is just out of habit or, as the lolos and lolas quip, takaw mata. For the next special occasion, how about taking a detour from the toy store and consider these non-toy options under P500:
Kids love bright colors and getting messy with paint. Ma’am and Mom’s products are non-toxic and washable, so moms are happier, too! They specialize in Tempera Paints and painting tools that make for great fun, and they become an effective teaching tool for children of all ages.
Introduce little tots to the magic of life with these amazing plant kits. Each kit contains everything you need to grow a plant including pots and soil -- all you’ll need to add are water and sunlight. (Check out our article here) You can choose to plant flowers, herbs, or vegetables. It's a great way to teach patience, discipline, hard work and science to kids of all ages!
#3 Clothes from Bug & Kelly Online prices start at P350 for shirts and infant onesies, P419 for pajama sets
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Clothes are always appreciated as gifts because kids not only outgrow them it often gets dirty with stains that don't wash off. My daughter chose shirts from Bug & Kelly last October, and after almost a year, we can attest that they’re in better condition than most, if not all, of her more expensive shirts. Proudly made in the Philippines, Kelly confirms, “We really put extra effort into the quality of our products. We also have kids and we do not put out products that our kids would not wear especially when it comes to comfortability. Our kids are our first line of feedback.” Bug & Kelly is currently available through their online partners and for great discounts (yey!), catch them at the American Women’s Club monthly bazaar at SM Mall of Asia. Expect to see them in more bazaars as the -ber months approach.
#4 A magnifying glass Starts at P88 You wouldn’t normally think to give magnifying glasses to little kids, but they make for hours of fun. Show kids how ordinary surfaces and objects look magnified, zoom in on letters and pictures in their story books, and focus on the patterns of their fingerprints. Before you know it, they'll be going around solving little mysteries! I do recommend that you don't get the toy versions. There are sturdy ones available in Japanese stores for P88 and fancier ones in book stores.
#5 Musical instrument Bamboo flutes start at P250
There are endless benefits to exposing young children to music; it has been having been proven to stimulate parts of the brain that are related to reading, math, and emotional development. Children don’t necessarily have to be enrolled in a music class; they can start out by experimenting with musical instruments just for fun. My daughter was given a harmonica when she was four, and she loved just listening to the different sounds she can make. She also has a recorder which she and her dad use for “Name That Nursery Rhyme.” For something distinctly Filipino, there are bamboo flutes manufactured by Kingflute Philippines.
Everyone loves food! Native delicacies from different regions are now easy to find, whether in specialty shops or supermarkets. My daughter and I love going to a native snack stall, and I show her treats like sampaloc and butong-butong that I used to enjoy as a child growing up. She also loves kakanin, but her favorites are treats from Bacolod -- piaya, lubid-lubid and banadas. Her ninang just gave her a whole box of these, and she’s in heaven!
#7 A trip to Star City P70 entrance fee We had won tickets to Star City last summer that gave us so much fun! It has a lot of kiddie rides ideal for kids at least 34 inches tall. There are also family rides that allow kids under 30 inches in height to be accompanied by an adult. The Ride-All-You can tickets (P450) will pretty much keep you busy all afternoon. You can also opt just to pay the entrance fee (P70). My daughter loves Snow World (P150), and she has since stopped asking to go to a country with snow. There is a good mix of indoor and outdoor attractions (Adventure Zone has mini-golf and zip lines for kids where rates vary per activity. Dining options are inexpensive plus there are FREE live performances by their sister company, Ballet Manila. Tickets can be purchased online, so it’s convenient to give as gifts.
Early exposure to performing arts is highly beneficial for children. A 2015 study conducted by the University of Arkansas showed that students who watched high-quality theater performances increased their vocabulary, had a better understanding of the plot and are more sensitive to emotions of others. "What we determined from this research is that seeing live theater produced positive effects that reading a play or watching a movie of the play does not produce," said Jay Greene, professor of education reform. "Plays are meant to be seen performed live. You can't always take your kids to a play but if you can, you should.” Repertory Philippines has one coming up that is ideal for kids as young as preschoolers -- Beauty and the Beast. It will run from August 12 - December 14, 2017, at Onstage Theatre, Greenbelt 1, Makati. Tickets are available at TicketWorld.
My daughter has been in love with The Fun Farm since she was a toddler, and if you want to win the gift of the year, then give your child this experience! There are endless activities that most urban children will experience for the first time -- horseback riding, fishing, carabao cart ride, zip line, boating, feeding the animals, playgrounds and my daughter’s favorite -- the sand shed. The Fun Farm requires prior booking so they can ensure that it is never too crowded -- a huge plus in our books! To book, call Wilma Villoso at +63 (920) 913-1349 or email email@example.com.
#10 Locally-published books Prices start at P65
You can never go wrong with children’s books, they’re great even for infants, and are always welcomed by parents. I run Pumplepie Books & Happiness (shameless plug!), and we have hundreds of hand-picked titles written and illustrated by Filipinos, starting at P65. There are books in English, Filipino and bilingual (English & Filipino). If the selection is overwhelming, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be happy to suggest titles based on child’s age, interests, your budget, and whether you need a book to help you with a specific topic. Can’t get your toddler or your first-grader to eat vegetables? Not a problem, we have books for that!