For many Latino families, the holidays – and the gift-giving season – aren’t over yet.

The 12 Days of Christmas are in full swing and will culminate on January 6, Día de los Reyes Magos, or Day of the Magi. Children are preparing for the arrival of the Three Kings by decorating baskets in which they will leave treats for los reyes, or hay for los reyes’ camels. But what the children look forward to the most is actually the night before the day also known as the Epiphany, when they set out their shoes in hopes that the Magi will be generous and leave a little gift for them to discover the next morning.

Some families place greater emphasis on this holiday for gift-giving than they do on Christmas, while others prefer to give smaller, more personal gifts. Here are a few fun ideas for educational gifts to give on Día de los Reyes Magos:

Bella’s Mystery Deck
Kids help 13-year-old Bella and her black lab, Noche, unravel mini-mysteries. This deck contains 52 illustrated story cards and a mirror card to read the answer in case you get stuck. Children must read each story carefully for the clues they need to solve the mystery. For ages 10 and up.

LEGO Creator Sets

It is almost impossible to go wrong with a set of LEGOs. And these mini sets feature 3 models in one; kids can first create one vehicle, then rebuild it into two others using the same parts. Each set is inexpensive and comes with its own reusable storage case. It is best suited for children ages 6 to 10 years old.  The best part? It’s small enough to fit inside a shoe!

Brain Quest Question and Answer Decks

This fast-paced, curriculum-based educational game allows children to challenge themselves at their own pace. The question decks are age-appropriate and are available for children in preschool through grade 7. Questions are written on one side of the card and answers are on the back. I find these decks to be a great tool for reinforcing concepts that my kids are learning in school. Our favorite? Brain Quest Hispanic America!

Professor Noggin’s Card Games

Professor Noggin has created 32 fun-filled card games on a variety of exciting, educational subjects, such as First Peoples of North America, Ancient Civilizations, and many others. This  series of educational games encourages kids to learn interesting facts about their favorite subjects. Each of the 30 game cards combines trivia, true or false, and multiple choice questions. A special three-numbered die is included and creates interaction and promotes communication between players. Easy and hard levels keep kids interested and challenged – while, of course, having fun. Best suited for children ages 7 and up.

Art Supplies

Sometimes the best gifts are those that encourage your child’s creativity and curiosity. Fill their shoes with simple sets of watercolor color pencils or oil pastels, miniature canvases, and coloring books. These items are just a little bit different from what most children are used to, which enhances their appeal and encourages them towards self-expression.

Mónica Olivera is the founder and publisher of MommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM (Latinos in Social Media).

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