Holiday Gifts for Kids
Last week we wrote about gifts for girls and last year we broke it up into preschooler and school-aged kids. Now, we’re just going to do a long list of items we’re loving right now that are great for boys, girls and mixed ages.
If you’ve got a four or five-year old, now is the time they start appreciating marble runs. You know, you build towers with paths for the marbles and let them go. I love this game because as the kids get older they can build more complex structures. There are a lot of different marble run systems, I would choose one based on the the ability to expand, or for the cool accouterments if you’re buying for older kids.
Since we’re on a “building theme” here, theoretically the original Colorforms of our youth are the same thing but the building is of 2-D pictures with basic shapes. I never get tired of Colorforms.
Bugsby Reading System
We love Bugsby, this helpful interactive reading tool. In fact, we love its price best since it’s a better value than other products of its kind in the marketplace. You’re going to need additional books and I recommend our favorite sassy pig, Olivia. (disclosure: I am on the Advisory Council of VTech Kids.)
Our friends at Gift Hero turned us on to these great games that are fun and educational. Generally speaking, the American school systems are not great at teaching geography, which fascinated me as a child. I think these two games are dynamite: United States Bingo and Great States Jr.
Legos & Books
Are you swimming in Legos at home? Has your kid built and then taken apart the structure after carefully following the instructions? If you want to get a new life out of all those Legos, get this Cool Cars and Trucks book by Lego master Sean Kenney. It’s full of diagrams on how to construct various vehicles with Lego blocks, including pocket-size cars and variations on an SUV. This book is really for the hard-core Lego builders who have zillions of pieces at home already, since it doesn’t come with any. Another book to try is also The LEGO Book which is a comprehensive book about the history of LEGO, in addition to providing some building diagrams.
The Smart Portfolio
Have an artist on your hands? This Smart Portfolio facilitates tracing and freehand drawing by using a sophisticated projector onto a tracing desk. The set comes with image slides, colored pencils and tracing paper. All you need is a patient kid. And batteries, of course.
Each year we try to feature a video game we love. When we asked Disney World experts for their fave rides at the amusement park, Toy Story Mania was on top of many lists. So, it comes as no surprise to me that Disney would replicate the magic as a video game. There’s even an iPhone app too. If you’re looking for another Disney favorite, we recommend Sing It: Pop Hits, which is a karaoke delight for all ages and a follow-up to last year’s hit. (Disney sent us review copies of these games along with a number of other video game titles).