5 Gift Ideas to Spark Imagination & Nurture the “Whole Child”

This holiday season, go back-to-basics and give a gift that keeps on giving well past the torn wrapping paper, celebrations, and frenetic excitement of the holidays. Instead, share the gift of imagination, exploration, curiosity and discovery.

In today’s increasingly digital world, it’s easy to get swept up in the hype of the latest gadgets and gizmos promising to teach your child the technical skills they’ll need for the future. However, there’s one thing all these “must-have” toys will never be able to teach: the ability to think creatively. When it comes to inspiring inquisitive young-minds to explore, imagine, and create, simplicity is smarter.

Here are 5 holiday gift ideas that nurture the “Whole Child,” and encourage creativity, curiosity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking for valuable play and learning this holiday season:

1. A Themed ‘Bundle of Learning’

Themed gift bundles allow your child to explore a specific interest in multiple ways – engaging their minds at different levels and letting them take lead on how they want to learn and discover the world around them. Remember: keep it simple, these items don’t need to be flashy in order to inspire curiosity and encourage their natural desire to learn. So think books, games, and other activities that enlist a child’s imagination, stimulates questions, and presents opportunities for problem solving and creativity.

Take a look at these examples:

For the Inquisitive Scientist | Ages 7 & up

  • Science Verse | Ages 7-10 | Focus: Science, Critical Thinking, Creativity
    • Take a look around and see science everywhere! Encourage your child to think critically about the scientific underpinnings of everyday life, using beautifully designed multimedia artwork like drawings, poems, songs, rhymes, and more to show just how “scientific” life really is.
  • Pepper Mint in the Great Treehouse Engineering Adventure | Ages 8 & Up| Focus: STEM, Critical Thinking, Engineering
    • Join a curious and youthful young engineer on her quest to build the best treehouse on the block! this STEM-focused activity set allows children to explore their critical thinking and design skills to navigate the challenges of putting together a treehouse project. Best of all, the finished treehouse becomes a fun and engaging independent playset, with adventures only limited by your child’s creativity!
  • Crayola Color Chemistry Set | Ages 7 & Up| Focus: Science, Creativity, STEAM/STEM
    • Step inside the world of a scientist with this engaging and colorful activity kit, filled 50 science experiments and plenty of chances to flex some creativity to keep your child engaged, challenged, and always looking for new and exciting combinations.


For the Budding Artiste | Ages 1 & Up

  • Tots Art Start | Ages 18 months and Up | Focus: Creativity, Art, Imagination
    • It’s never too early to start your first masterpiece. This art activity set is built especially for little hands, allowing your toddler to become a true artistic master with a variety of fun and colorful materials, including stickers, fringe and tissue paper, crinkly paper, and more!
  • A Water Drawing/Doodle Mat | Ages 3 and Up | Focus: Creativity, Art, Collaboration
    • All of the creative expression, with so much less mess! This handy water-based art surface makes it easy for your little artist to express their wildest imaginings. Let your child dive into whatever strikes their fancy, the wait 10 minutes and presto - a blank canvas, ready for whatever creative muse might strike next.
  • I’m Not Just a Scribble | Ages 2 and Up | Focus: Creativity, Art, Cultural Understanding
    • Every child, no matter their abilities, deserves to have their art appreciated for the creativity it represents. That’s why this cute book highlights the importance of accepting the art of others for what it is. Your little artist will be free to express their own creative vision just as they see fit - the perfect way to encourage budding art skills.

2. A Costume Trunk or DIY Playhouse

Children learn best through play - it’s a platform for discovery, creativity, and imagination. Playing dress-up or pretend allows them to practice what they’ve experienced and elaborate on it using their own imaginations. When a child is allowed to let their imaginations to run wild, they become great problem solvers by encouraging them to create stories and resolve conflicts between their characters. Role-playing when done with friends also encourages collaboration, taking turns, and provides a great platform for socialization.

  • A Create Your Own Dress-up Set | All Ages | Focus: Storytelling & Self-Expression
    • Feature your child’s favorite characters or provide more generic options to let them create their own adventures.
  • My Very Own House Coloring Playhouse | Ages 36 months to 15 years | Focus: Storytelling & Self-Expression, Creativity
    • This coloring cottage provides a setting for them to act out their favorite stories, play with friends, or let their imagination go wild. They’ll be able to color it, paint it or glue things to it giving them room to express themselves - fostering creativity and hand-eye coordination as they work to color within the lines or draw their own decorations.

3. A Cookbook

Cookbooks are a great way to connect with your child and engage them in learning without them even knowing. Calling upon a wide range of skills including creativity, collaboration, and direction following, this time in the kitchen can be both highly educational and a fun and memorable bonding time for children and parents alike. Plus, who doesn’t like diving into a healthy, homemade snack at the end?

  • Around The World Cookbook | Ages 8-13+ | Focus: World Cultures, Science, Collaboration
    • Hummus and Pad Thai meet meatloaf and apple pie in this fun, hands-on look at some of the tastiest food from around the world! Help your child break barriers and experience new cultures with a cookbook designed to challenge their thinking skill as much as it expands their taste buds.
  • The Science Chef | Ages 8-14+ | Focus: Science, Collaboration, Critical Thinking
    • To any growing chef, the world of flavors is an experiment waiting to be unlocked. Help your child to see the underlying science behind the diversity of flavors they’ve come to love, all while building key science, counting, math, and collaboration skills needed to turn a handful of ingredients into a delicious snack to be shared.

4. A Subscription Box

Educational subscription boxes are a convenient and wonderful way to get your kids engaged in learning by challenging them to think and play in new ways. With a multitude of options to choose them, these curated educational boxes can be used to enhance an existing interest or encourage your little one to explore new ideas. In addition, the added anticipation of receiving a “gift” each month helps build excitement – keeping them continually involved in the process of creative learning.

Below are a couple of our favorites:

  • KiwiCo Crates | Ages 0-16+ | Focus: STEM/STEAM Learning
    • Probably the most familiar in the long line of learning-themed subscription packages, KiwiCo offers hands-on science and art projects for variety of interests and ages. For example, the Kiwi Crate, designed for children ages 5-8, includes themed activities and all the tools needed to explore a new concept in science, engineering, or art such as: the science of color, the wonders of flight, and much more.
  • Little Passports | Ages 3-9+| Focus: Geography, Science, and World Cultures
    • Little Passports gives your child a “passport” to new worlds – from exploring world themes, like Music and Oceans, to discovering new countries with souvenirs and culture-themed activities, to traveling the USA and learning about each state, or even revealing the mysteries of the world through the wonders of science and engineering.

5. A Gift of Giving

Few methods of teaching children the value of cultural awareness and collaboration quite like giving back to their community. Whether it’s helping out with a local charity, parting with possessions in the form of donations, or simply raising awareness for those who need help in the neighborhood, the gift of giving might just be the most rewarding one yet.


Encourage your child to find a local non-profit or charitable organization with which they can get involved. The amount of time and effort your child dedicates doesn’t have to be much - perhaps a few hours a week, or a one-time volunteering effort at a special event. Regardless of how your child chooses to volunteer, empowering them to choose and follow through is a gift they’ll carry for years to come. This can also be a great opportunity for you as a family to connect and expand their world through learning about your local community and meeting new people.


We all know the value of appreciating what we’ve got, and few factors do more to teach children the value of giving back and living simply quite like donating to those in need. This is a great time to encourage your child to think long and hard about what they have and do not need, and how much another child or family in need could benefit from their outgrown toys or clothes. Tis the season of giving - and there may be no better or more selfless way for students to experience just that.


World Academy is a state licensed, independent, developmentally-appropriate and academically rigorous private school for children from ages Six weeks through Grade 8. Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, it offers high quality Early Childhood Programs, Elementary and Middle School, Before and Afterschool Programs, and SummerQuest Camp. For almost 40 years the school has been dedicated to providing all students with a high-quality, 21st-century, diverse, “whole child” focused education that supports families and engages all facets of a child’s being, including cognitive/intellectual, physical, social-emotional, cultural and creative aspects.

Located at 138 Spit Brook Road in Nashua, the state-of- the-art 55,000 square-foot campus features specialized wings for Nursery, Preschool, Elementary and Middle School students; three age-appropriate playgrounds; a natural playground; two in-ground swimming pools; a Gymnasium/Theater complex with a rock climbing wall; nature trails; a soccer field; an accelerated Math Program; immersive World Languages programs; Lego Robotics built into the curriculum for K-8; and much more. Students from World Academy have consistently been accepted into their first choice schools including Groton School, Middlesex School, Lawrence Academy, Bishop Guertin High School, Central Catholic High School, Berwick Academy, The Derryfield School, and The Pike School, to name a few.

For more information, contact Samantha Wingate, Director of Admissions at 603-888-1982.