Here on the blog, things have been relatively quiet these past few weeks, but only because behind the scenes, I’ve been frantically digging up the best global gifts for you for this Christmas!
If your family is learning a new language or just trying to expand your knowledge of the world, I’ve got lots of gift recommendations for you. And of course, if you don’t find what you’re looking for here, don’t hesitate to ask for recommendations in our Language Learning At Home Facebook group—the parents there are a great source of ideas like this!
*Some of the links below are affiliate links—meaning that I receive a small commission (at no cost to you) for any purchases made through them. For my full disclosure policy, click here.
For Babies and Toddlers:
Adorable, diverse board books (featuring other babies!)
If your babies and toddlers like other babies as much as my two-year-old does, they’ll love to receive a new board book featuring children from other countries. A few that have been a hit in our house include the Global Baby Boys, Global Baby Girls, and Global Babies, all by The Global Fund for Children. Felix loves to point out the colorful clothes and jewelry worn by the children in these books, and we’ve used them to learn the names of other countries as well. They have been so well-loved in our home that we could honestly use new copies…maybe he’ll find some underneath the tree this year.
Lullabies and playtime tunes in the target language
Even if your child isn’t speaking yet, there is incredible value in listening to foreign language music as a family. You would be surprised at how easily children pick up new words from songs that they love! For our part, we love to listen to new music with Amazon Music—the only online subscription that our family has, and one that’s worth every penny. Here are my recommendations for finding children’s foreign language music, along with a list of our family favorites in Spanish and Portuguese. You’ll also find other Spanish recommendations in my resource library, of course.
A beautiful mobile (that might just hypnotize you!)
Neither of my children has had a mobile over their crib, but if I had to go back and change my decorating choices, I definitely would have chosen this amazing mobile, which traces the history of cartography in the five globes that suspend over your baby’s bed. Once baby is out of the crib, you could repurpose this elsewhere in your house—it’s definitely sophisticated enough to pass as adult decor.
Donation to a charity of your choice
Since babies don’t really need new toys or books at Christmas, you might consider re-directing your gift budget to a charity that focuses on issues like global hunger or freedom.* Two charities that our family has supported in the past are the International Justice Mission, a Christian organization dedicated to ending human exploitation, and Heifer International, a non-sectarian NGO that works to end global hunger and poverty. You can either make a general donation for these organizations or choose to support their work in an area of the world close to your family’s heart. For our older son’s first birthday, for example, we gave to Heifer International in order to help to purchase a llama for an Andean family. This was especially meaningful for our family, since my husband and I spent three months in Peru as missionaries and wanted honor our love for that country and its people.
*I am aware that there is controversy surrounding the practices of nearly every NGO. I encourage you to do your research, check Charity Navigator, and choose one that your family believes in, keeping in mind that no organization is perfect.
For Preschool and Elementary Students:
Puppet Theater and Puppets
There are SO many ways to use puppets to make your language learning journey more fun. You can have kids perform original puppet shows in the target language, use a special puppet to encourage a reluctant learner to speak the target language, or use puppets to “act out” foreign language read-alouds. This is one gift that I’m giving to my own boys this Christmas, to encourage their Spanish development and some brotherly bonding all at once. We choose this extremely affordable and space-saving puppet theater from Pottery Barn Kids and these puppets from Melissa and Doug.
Subscription to a language learning box
Since you can subscribe to anything from razors to spices now, you knew that it was only a matter of time before some entrepreneur put together a language learning box, right? If your family is learning Spanish, you have a few options, but I especially recommend Booklandia for its customizability and the high-quality literature that it sends out. What I like most about Booklandia’s subscription service is that you can customize your box to include books for different reading levels (which is great for families with kids of different ages, like mine) and you can also decide whether you want Spanish-only books or bilingual volumes. French learning families should check out Les Petits Livres, which is not a typical subscription box, but a rental service for French-language children’s books. A number of families in our Language Learning At Home Facebook Community have recommended it and are very pleased with how it works for their homeschools.
Subscription to a foreign language magazine
Earlier this year, I did a round-up post of my favorite foreign language magazines for kids. These are a great learning tool for your children, since they combine authentic language with the excitement of getting something in the mail. Our own family already subscribes to High Five Bilingüe, which is great for families with younger Spanish learners, and I’ll be getting my older son a subscription to Caracola, now that he’s ready for more sophisticated reads in Spanish.
Linguacious visual flashcards
Linguacious cards are the perfect stocking stuffer for language-loving children of any age! We use them in our own family to study Portuguese and the kids love the many games I’ve made up with them. They are available in many, many languages (including less commonly-studied ones, like Polish and Kurdish), so check out their full Amazon store to see what’s available for your family. By the way, although Linguacious cards do require the use of a QR code reader, the company has a free, safe, and ad-free app available so that you can feel confident leaving your kids alone with these cards.
Foreign Language Spot It! (French, Spanish, and Hebrew)
A family friend introduced this fun game to our kids a few weeks ago and when I went to look for it on Amazon, I was delighted to find that it is available in French, Spanish, and Hebrew! I should not that the foreign language editions are a bit different from the original Spot It!, as they include vocabulary words in the target language (instead of being strictly visual). This makes them a great, stress-free tool to encourage children who are just starting to read in a second language (and it’s something we’ll be using in our own homeschool)!
For High Schoolers:
Board Games or Magnetic Poetry (in your target language!)
For the advanced student, a word-heavy board game like Scrabble or a fun tin of magnetic poetry can be just the thing that they need to stretch their creative muscles in their new language. The Spanish version of Bananagrams gets high ratings, as does Spanish Scrabble, and magnetic poetry kits are available in French, Spanish, German, and Italian.
Jewelry from Novica
If you’re looking for unique and meaningful jewelry made by global artisans, Novica is a great resource. Over the years, I have purchased many a gift from this site, and they have something to match every style. I just purchased the above bracelet (crafted in Guatemala) for my mother-in-law’s birthday and she’s thrilled with it.
A travel guide to a new country
If you’ve got a teen who is itching to travel, why not help her expand her horizons with a travel guide to a country that she’s like to visit (or, at least, dream about visiting)? While there are many guides on the market, I am partial to the DK Eyewitness Guides for their beautiful layout and detailed photographs. They provide lots of fodder for the imagination.
Kitchen accessories for new cuisines
Why not gift your teen something that the whole family can benefit from, like the right kitchen accessories for making delicious food?
If your child is a budding Francophile, this complete crepe-making set would be a lovely gift. It comes with a hot plate, spreader, and recipe book, so that your teen can easily prepare authentic crepes to impress his friends (and you!).
For your guac-loving high school student, you could purchase a real molcajete, carved out of stone and perfect for grinding up this authentic Mexican condiment. And while I myself am no longer in the stage of life where I make my own tortillas by hand (far from it!), tortilla pressing is a great project for a food-loving teen. I prefer this tortilla press for it’s nice, heavy feel and its ability to make an even press.
For the whole family:
Subscription to TalkBox Mom
If you are learning a language alongside your children (or for yourself!), TalkBox Mom is a easy and natural way to get the whole family using your target language at home. One of the biggest challenges in homeschool language learning is finding a way to use your chosen language in everyday conversation. By focusing on teaching MOM first—an approach that I think is great!—TalkBox Mom can help you overcome that hurdle. It complements any written curriculum that you’re already using (and, in most cases, fills in the conversation gaps that most of those curricula have). This is also a great tool for moms who need help with consistency in language learning, since the subscription box model helps you stay on track with your monthly or quarterly goals.
This holiday season, TalkBox Mom is running a special for Language Learning At Home readers. To get the following discounts, be sure to use these coupon codes when you check out:
For $20 off a Talkbox + Phrase Book, use the code languagelearningbox at checkout.
For $5 off a Phrase Book, use the code languagelearningbook at checkout.
Subscription to Audible
While I love listening to foreign language audiobooks with my kids, I also love listening to them for myself! I’ve looked into every audiobook service out there, but the one with the best selection of foreign language recordings is definitely Audible. Since our library no longer has much in the way of foreign language audiobooks, I am especially grateful for this service! I’m currently listening to Isabel Allende’s Más allá del invierno and have loads of new books lined up for the boys. If you want to try before you buy, don’t forget that Audible offers a free 30-day trial that includes an audiobook for you to keep, whether you subscribe to the service or not. And as of the writing of this post, Audible is offering an amazing deal where you can pay only $6.95/month for your first 3 months. That’s definitely worth a look!
Home Decor from Novica
I’ve written before about how our family uses the decorations in our hometo encourage our kids to think globally, and with all of the beautiful, ethically-sourced, and affordable offerings on Novica, you can do the same. We’ve purchased a ton of our home decor from Novica over the years, and I love that they’ve connected us to local artists and artisans whose work we can support financially. There are products in every price range and for every style, and I can guarantee you that you will love the unique pieces that they have. Earlier this year, I decided against bringing home an alebrije from our Mexico worldschooling trip—mostly because I was afraid it could be destroyed in transit—so I’m requesting this one for Christmas for myself. I think he will look so cute on my mantelpiece!