If you think buying a kid something to write with as a gift is stupid, YOU’RE STUPID and you don’t understand kids! I love to be so blunt and it’s true. If you think only colorful, flashy, “toys” with no function what-so-ever is the funnest kind of toy, you should do some soul searching. Now of course there is significant benefit to playing with toys, even annoyingly loud ones, and imagination. Studies show when kids make up stories for themselves they grow up to have better math skills. (Causation/correlation unknown to me, it supports my bias so I assume it has to be right). But guess what? Kids love DOING things, including writing, doodling, drawing. If you present a kid with writing in the right light and the right time, you can teach them the entire alphabet in a few days, they have sponge brains. And you should probably start earlier than you’d think, around 6 mo to a year is perfect (though they won’t pick it up so quick at 6 months). I would teach them the sounds of the letters and not the name, whats the point of knowing the name of the letter ‘A’ other than to impress a preschool teacher? And start with lower case instead of upper case, how often are words written in all caps, they don’t need to know upper case till 3-5. Your not gonna “teach” them though, you’re going to PLAY with them. You sit on the couch, while they’re in the room, playing with a writing toy or a piece of paper and crayon and doodle away. Put a little emotion into it with smiles, oohs and ahhs, and eventually they’ll come to see what all the fuss is about. As soon as they have a second to look at the paper and everything you’ve doodled, write a letter and make a HUGE fuss about it. “Oh, my gosh, I wrote an ‘a’, I can’t believe it!”, “Honey I wrote a letter ‘a’, it’s so cool!”, “Look right there, that’s my own letter ‘a’ that I just drew, should I try and draw another one?” Yeah, it’s ridiculous and the over emotion will probably give your kids ADHD, but doing that a few times, your kids is going to have the idea that writing is fun deeply ingrained. From then on, you just kinda… have fun, drawing pictures, labeling pictures, reading the labels, arguing over how to make letters, just play.
Here’s a first toy for just after they start crawling. Take the shape magnets away, don’t need them trying to swallow them, as unrealistic as that is, at least it will save a few grey hairs. You guys will make your own shapes.
I have one of these for my kids and they are awesome! No paint or markers, just water, they erase as they try out, they fold/roll up for easy storage. Kids dumping water all over as they try to refill these pens on their own is horrifically annoying, but can you imagine if this was paint or markers?! Great starting around 3-4.
Magic Drawing Mat, Kids Magic Mat Toy Large Water Doodle Mat 39.5″ X 28″ with 3 Magic Pens 2 Drawing Molds, Kids Educational Learning Toy Gift for Toddlers Age 2 3 4 5 Years Old Toys
When they get a little older and can hold a pen well, you can get a whiteboard or chalkboard. A lot of people are against kids with dry erase pens, of course this is understandable, as a parent you want to wrap your kid in bubble wrap to keep them safe… and never have to clean up a damn thing again! But I promise you, patiently treating your kid as a capable person who can do things and help will a better payoff in the end. (Just be a parent and make good judgement of what they can actually do safely. Don’t blame me if you give a teething child a knife and they put it in their mouth.)
Solid cheap whiteboard, easy to move around to keep an eye on your kid. Also fun for stop-motion animation or YouTube lessons once they get older.
Quartet Whiteboard, 24″ x 18″ Dry Erase Board, White Board, Silver Aluminum Frame (S531)
Want more for the same price? You could put this on the floor and then when its time to clean up they could put socks on and slide all over it! … Ok, sorry that’s the kid in me, I could feel a disturbance in the force as moms everywhere cringed.
Kassa Clear Dry Erase Board Sticker – 17.3″ x 78” (6.5 Feet) – 3 Dry-Erase Board Markers Included – Transparent Adhesive White Board for Refrigerator, Desk, Office – Glass Dry Erase Board Alternative
Cleaner is worth it, even though its probably almost water, and the eraser seems to work better than a paper towel or a sock. You don’t want to get a ton of markers because they dry out easily and kids often don’t get the caps on tight, you may want to check when they’re done. If you really think you want a ton of markers you can get the chub pack of colors here.
EXPO Dry Erase Marker Starter Set, Chisel Tip, Assorted Colors, 6 Piece
Of course some people prefer a chalk board. Even though dry-erase markers say non-toxic, its hard to believe with their strong fragrance. If you want to go with the technology that’s been around since before writing was invented and writing utinsels safe to consume, go with the trusty chalk board.
(Please don’t let your kids eat chalk, just encase I’m wrong about that.)
Board Dudes 17″ x 23″ Chalk Board with Oak Style Frame (CXM80)
Of course they have wall stickers too, the world has everything now and with the internet you can get it, anything.
You can find much cheaper chalk, maybe you want much cheaper chalk, as a frustrated user of much cheaper chalk I will will not endorse the use of much cheaper chalk and I FORBID YOU TO USE IT! Besides, this decent chalk also comes with an eraser.
Now if you already had much cheaper chalk or you WENT AGAINST MY WISHES and purchased much cheaper chalk, you now see why I forbid it. Now that you’ve see the error of your ways, do not throw that much cheaper chalk in the trash, procure some chalk holders and mitigate some of the damage you’ve done.
Oh hey, I didn’t know this was a thing! Chalk markers, they’re like paint markers… but erasable. Or dry erase markers, that ALSO work on chalk boards. Thats right, these work on DRY ERASE BOARDS TOO! I’m kinda excited about these. I bet this is probably what they use on those menu display easels in fancy coffee shops, that means they’ve probably been around for some time, but they’re new too me! I see a lot of people use these to decorate windows, they’re super opaque unlike dry erase markers, they show up well! You can flip the tip around so when your kid stabs the board repeatedly you can flip the tip over and have a brand new tip and you don’t have to throw it it, you can give him one more chance before you kill’em. I’m probably way to excited about these, I think my child is showing, let me tuck that back in… there.