Children who are exceptionally intelligent in one or more areas can be particularly difficult to choose gifts for, either because their interests are so esoteric (e.g., physics) or so focused that you are inclined to expand their horizons (e.g., no more puzzles, no more comics!). Here are some unique ideas for families in Denver that have the potential to be the “best gift ever”. They each have the added benefit of stretching the child in a different direction (e.g. get your bookworm interacting and moving his/her body) as well as not taking up space, costing much to send, or otherwise having an ecological footprint:
For one who loves SCIENCE try MUSIC
While many have heard of the relationship between math and music (the latter being implicitly mathematical), there are in fact several wonderful works of children’s music with a scientific focus. The following album recommendations are not only get-you-moving-and-humming good music, but they contain excellent scientific lessons (take it from this science professor):
- Jeff and Paige, Get Outdoors (favorite: “Bats (oh Baby)”) and
- Jeff Kagan, Songs from the Trail and (favorite: “Prairie Grasses Wave”) – really anything from Jeff Kagan and his partner Paige is great, and many of their songs are Colorado specific (e.g. the jazzy “54 14ers”)- they are out of Boulder and also play birthday parties! (Disclaimer, I was the science advisor for their last album, but only because I’m a huge fan).
- They Might Be Giants, Here Comes Science (favorite: “Meet the Elements”)- yup, the same They Might Be Giants 80’s rock band. All their children’s music is awesome.
If your little scientist already loves music, find out when their favorite bands are coming to town and purchase tickets, or for the more refined, try Colorado Symphony performances. They have a Colorado Symphony Kids series we have really enjoyed and tickets are on sale now. Finally, if the child already plays an instrument, consider gift certificates to their favorite music store, or other ideas from their teacher.
For one who loves READING FANTASY/COMICS try LESSONS
Did you know that fencing is a sport available to kids as young as 6? Our son (age 7) is obsessed with sword fighting and took to this like bees to honey. Its an athletic, Olympic sport, and our experience is that it is populated with highly intelligent and kind men and women; we love the Denver Fencing Center, which has a Medieval camp in the summer. Or, is your young one a budding superhero? Try Parkour, a sport I think of as urban gymnastics and very popular among youtube videos. Although it may be associated with jumping off buildings, has a Parkour gym, Apex Movement in which kids learn how to safely vault over boxes, flip into foam pits. A related sport is Aerial dance (think Cirque du Solei); Denver has Aerial classes for kids as young as 6.
For one who loves HISTORY try A MEMBERSHIP
Exceptionally bright children often enjoy being with adults and can hold their own among them, especially if they share the same interests. A museum membership under their own name can be a thrill, especially given member benefits and publications that are associated with them. Our city has History Colorado center and several smaller historical museums that offer special programs and publications for members.
For one who loves PUZZLES try AN EXPERIENCE
Lovers of puzzles usually find their outlet in fine-motor experiences, whether on paper or with 3-D challenges, but there are many opportunities to satisfy the same mental need in other ways. Consider a year of “large puzzles”: Glenwood Caverns Cave Tour in winter, Adams Mystery Theater tickets in spring, a ropes course maze in summer, and Denver Botanic Garden’s corn maze in fall. A special trip as a family to a place that would thrill your child is a great way to help this type of child become more interactive with their interests. Hawaii has the self-proclaimed largest hedge maze in the world, the “Pineapple Maze“, and closer to home, Golden, Colorado has the “Miner’s Maze“. The latter has a ropes course that requires significant problem-solving, as many do. Although it is closed in the winter, you can create gift “certificates” for different experiences that keep the fun going. Rock climbing similarly requires puzzle solving skills that involve the whole body; Denver has lots of walls to choose from!
All of the suggestions above (MUSIC, LESSONS, A MEMBERSHIP, AN EXPERIENCE) of course may be good for children and adults with various interests. Just remember that the best gifts acknowledge something about the receiver; a great way of communicating, “I see you and appreciate who you are”. Happy holidays!