Christmas is around the corner. Many of you are probably already making your lists and doing your shopping. Some may want to do a handmade holiday or a second hand holiday, others will use their dollars to “vote” for products/companies they like… we do a combination of all that usually. One thing I am VERY big on though is educational toys for special occasions like holidays and birthdays. I love toys that engage my kids and make them use their noggins. The best toys IMO either exercise their bodies or exercise their brains. Here are my top picks for educational toys when gifting children. Many of these are perfect or homeschool too!
Inchimals – These adorable wooden blocks double as rulers that help children understand measurements. What can you learn from a rabbit that is exactly four inches tall? These lovely tools are thoughtfully designed. You get 12 Inchimals in the set which measure 1′ in height (the tiny ladybug) to 12′ high (the towering giraffe). With precise inch segments, correct numbers, and dot equivalent on ends of blocks, and cute animals – this learning toy will engage as it teaches Ideal for children of various age ranges.
Animalogic – It’s a toy, a game, and a puzzle. It also won toy of the year honors in 2009. This puzzle/game that will have your children working their brains overtime to solve these wonderfully smart safari stumpers! Lions, hippos, giraffes and camels are all waiting to get to the other side of the river. The animals know they may only cross the river bridge one at a time and they must travel in the proper order to safely arrive at the other side. With sixty puzzles and five levels of difficulty (beginner to advanced), these logic puzzles have players solving the correct sequence to remove the sixteen wooden animals from the game board.
The Soda Bug Can – It’s a science project and a REALLY cool build it yourself toy. It also teaches about recycling in a practical and understandable way. What boy wouldn’t be thrilled with this?? This unique robotics project uses a recycled soda can that you provide and transforms it into a robotic bug toy. A vibration sensation, Robug emits sound and moves across the floor as soon as you switch it on. The kit includes a motor casing, toy motor, body plate, body rims, battery casing, four large screws with bolts, small screws, plastic terminal caps, wire legs and wings, detailed instructions with fun facts. I think I know one thing my ten year will be getting for Christmas this year! Also check out the Hexbug.
The SpellMaster – We have had this toy for a couple years now. Basically it is a platform for developing sequential memory skills, increasing memory span, improving letter recognition, and spelling simple to complex words. Kids also find it fun… trust me. Read my full review here.
The Money Set by Melissa and Doug – Okay I swore we have enough Melissa and Doug sets but I saw this and had to add it to my own list.. even if the coins probably are plastic. It seems downright perfect for helping kids to learn to count money and it can double as a toy when you aren’t using it for educational purposes. They can use it to play store, farmer’s market, lemonade stand, bank robbery, whatever… It is a great way to introduce your child to the concept of money and basic math skills. Parents can get involved and make up fun learning games to teach addition, subtraction, interest rates, counting back change and much more.
Coliseum Blocks by Haba – I LOVE these! We love history, architecture, and travel so this is a three for one deal! In classic Haba style, you can recreate the splendor of the Roman Coliseum! This block set allows you freedom in feats of architecture and engineering with unique pieces of the highest quality beech wood. These blocks sets by Haba would be an awesome way to teach geography in a fun way that kids will remember. Other sets include an Egyptian Pyramid, a Mayan Temple, and Ancient Greece.
Passport to Culture – This makes a great “family” gift and it is a GREAT way to teach about geography, history, and different cultures. And what kids don’t love to play board games? We love RISK as much as the next family but when we want more education and less violence then this is a good game to have. Passport to Culture is the unique, exciting multi-cultural board game where players circle the globe, uncovering mysteries of our amazing world. Test your knowledge of world cultures from Andorra to Zimbabwe. Challenge your CQ (Cultural Intelligence) with fascinating, fun-filled questions about people and places, food and drink, world treasures, greeting and gestures, pivotal historical events, customs and traditions. What you don’t know, you learn…
WWII Spotter Cards – A deck of cards makes a great gift, especially when you are a family that likes to play games. These cards are pretty cool because they are educational as well. Each card has the usual suit of course but also 3 different views with the name of friendly and enemy aircraft used in WWII. My oldest is a WWII history and military buff and would be over the moon for these. Another cool set my kids would like? These famous pirate cards. I think I want some of those myself.
Number Bean Bags – Great for smaller kiddos but also for older ones who are learning to spell the numbers and not just identify them… a great toy for many ages ranges. Each bean bag is embroidered with a number (1 to 20) on one side and its number word on the other. Even numbers are in blue and odd numbers are in red for easy identification. The bean bags come in a handy cloth storage bag with a “tip sheet” of beginning math activities for large and small groups, from number identification and counting to simple addition and subtraction. They also have shapes bean bags and alphabet bean bags.
Isn’t learning always better when you make it a game? And isn’t the gift of learning the best gift you can get or give?