I have a dilemma. My son Ian, his wife Michelle, and my grandson Ryan live nearly 600 miles away. I've only seen Ryan four times in his 9-year-old life, so there is much I do not know about the things he enjoys doing. This is a dilemma when it comes to buying gifts for him (birthday, Christmas). In the past I've always tried to include one or more age-appropriate books, since I grew up a voracious reader, and believe in the power of books to stimulate our imaginations. Toys, puzzles and games which engage a child's creativity are also on my list. My hope is that Ryan will come to associate certain kinds of gifts with me, in a good way.
Even so, I sometimes falter, wondering whether he would really like this gift, or that one. It would be so much easier if we lived near each other, and spent regular time together. I could take him out for a special event or treat, or at least know more intimately what he enjoys. I do get ideas from his mom and dad, but there's always the risk of duplicating something which Ryan already has. Drawing upon my memory of what Ian enjoyed at Ryan's age helps.
The other day I came across This Year, Give Them Brains in Scientific American online. The dozen suggestions are by no means the only good ideas out there, but they do provide a starting point. And they dovetail nicely with my wish to stimulate a child's skills and creativity ~ preferably WITHOUT the use of batteries.