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Finding The Right Gifts For Growing Kids

While people brave Black Friday on the hunt for deals, an expert says toy shoppers should make sure their great buys are appropriate for particular kids. Not all toys are made for children of different ages. Plus some choices offer kids a better opportunity to learn and grow.

Amy Hiesinger is a family life educator with Sanford Health. She says people should consider a child’s age and capabilities when shopping for gifts. Hiesinger says little children respond well to interactive gifts.

“Toys for younger kids that give them the, ‘Oh, look what I just did. I pushed this button and something popped up,’ or ‘I pulled down this lever and the light started blinking or it made a noise.’ When kids, especially younger or just getting – those ones and twos – just getting going, when they can make a toy it sounds kind of weird, but it builds a little self-confidence, because they made something happen,” Hiesinger says.

Hiesinger says children a few years older can enjoy presents that involve other people, so they can build social skills while learning and playing a game.

She says gift-givers should also incorporate low-tech toys that offer kids variety.

“And sometimes that’s as simple as a paint brush and crayons and some paper, and they just get to do what they want to do. It doesn’t always have to be some kind of big expensive toy that was purchased but something that sparks a little imagination and lets them explore and create freely without stringent guidelines like ‘this is the only thing I can do with this particular toy,’” Hiesinger says. “You can do several different things with just a bucket of blocks and building different things; artsy kind of stuff as far as crayons and paint brushes and stuff. Buckets and shovels – kids love to fill things up and dump them back out. They don’t have to be big, elaborate toys.”

Hiesinger says video games are popular with kids of all ages. She says parents need to make sure content on games or apps is appropriate for their children and put reasonable limits on screen time.

Kealey Bultena grew up in South Dakota, where her grandparents took advantage of the state’s agriculture at nap time, tricking her into car rides to “go see cows.” Rarely did she stay awake long enough to see the livestock, but now she writes stories about the animals – and the legislature and education and much more. Kealey worked in television for four years while attending the University of South Dakota. She started interning with South Dakota Public Broadcasting in September 2010 and accepted a position with television in 2011. Now Kealey is the radio news producer stationed in Sioux Falls. As a multi-media journalist, Kealey prides herself on the diversity of the stories she tells and the impact her work has on people across the state. Kealey is always searching for new ideas. Let her know of a great story! Find her on Facebook and twitter (@KealeySDPB).