Holiday Gift Guide: Do you really need a new one?

Yes, even as I run my own slew of holiday/blogaversary giveaways (enter by 12/14/10), I know it's important to think about our relationship with "stuff." It's important to think about the difference between wants and needs and to help our children understand the myriad of advertisements and commercials they face each day. Especially at this time of year.

The FTC has a site called Admongo aimed at tweens, along with their teachers and parents, that helps them build advertising literacy and decipher who is behind a given ad and what the sponsor is trying to motivate people to do. The website has games for kids and lesson plans for adults--all free, natch (well, "tax dollars at work" free).

We've been talking about this kind of thing since my boys were young and come to me asking for some really stupid toy based on a super fun commercial they'd seen. When one of my boys was just five years old, he suggested that his grandmother consider consolidating her loans in order to save money based on some cheesy commercial on basic cable. (For the record, I don't believe she had any outstanding loans.)

Another useful resource is Loops Scoops, a new series of eight brief animated videos that helps kids ages 6-9 how to think more deeply and creatively about the world they live in, and how to make choices based on what they discover.

Here's my favorite:

From the creator of the Story of Stuff, Loop Scoops is designed help kids look upon objects and activities in their daily life and ask: Where does it come from? What it’s made of? What happens to it when it’s thrown away?

The mini-series is brought to us courtesy of WGBH, which also has a host of resources to help develop media-savvy children.

WGBH and other public broadcasting partners have also created Teacher's Domain which provides useful resources like videos, lesson plans and quizzes for educators. A quick look around the site revealed some great videos for the Science Olympiad team I am helping coach. Score!

How do you deal with the holiday gimmes?
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