Back by popular demand (and earlier than in years past): my third annual Educational Gift List for kids of all ages. As a mom, I am always on the lookout for toys that teach and entertain. Per usual, I had my personal team of toy experts (my own 8, 9 and 12 year old children) test and approve the items on this list.
Farm Crayons These crayons come in the shapes and colors of real fruits and vegetables. The unique size encourages small muscle and fine motor skills development. It comes with a farm coloring book too! Ages 2+.
Together Wooden Playset This set of wooden people is a great toy on it's own or integrated into other imaginative play set-ups. Included are twelve hand-painted wooden friends in all shapes, colors, and sizes. Ages 3+.
Anglerfish Booklight - This light is the perfect stocking stuffer to encourage kids to read in bed. Kids of all ages will love using this cute booklight from Smoko to curl up with a good read and get them into the habit of reading for fun! Ages 3+.
Panda Instant Print Digital Camera - When children use a camera to photograph the world around them, they are able to express themselves in ways they may not otherwise. Photography encourages visual and spacial skills and fosters creativity, innovation and exploration. This camera from Kidamento self prints on affordable paper rolls rather than expensive photo paper, allowing your artist to display their creations without putting a massive dent in your wallet. Ages 3+.
Legends Wooden Alphabet Puzzles - The high-quality wooden puzzels from Alphabet Legends will help kids to rememeber the alphabet while simultaneously learning about individuals, animals, or topics of interest. Choose from Lady Legends, Hockey Legends, Soccer Legends, Dinos, Dog Breeds and more. The company also offers books, pencil cases, key chains and posters in the same themes. Ages 3-6.
Go Fish! Sports Playing Cards - Kids will love playing Go Fish! with this set of beautifully illustrated cards that are perfect for sports fanatics (they offer a camping realted set, as well). Go Fish! is wonderful for a child's development because encourages visual discrimination, number recognition, listening, memory, social interaction and allows players to practice asking questions. Ages 3+.
DIY Motorboat One of the youngest STEAM toys I have seen. Use any materials to build a boat, attach this motor and watch it go! The waterproof motor can be used over and over with each new design meaning your child's creativity, problem solving, and spacial skills can continually evolve . Ages 3+.
Yoto Player - Evidence shows that children who choose to read for pleasure are more successful in school and beyond. just pop in a card and the audio starts, take the card out again and the audio stops. Easy to set up and use, a perfect educational toy and a great bedtime storyteller. Also has a digital display with the time and weather and settings alloy it ot help with sleep training as well. Ages 3-12.
Purrble Calming Stuffy Rated by Time Magazine as one of the top inventions of 2021, Purrble is a cuddly, interactive tool to help your child find calm when stressed or tackling other big emotions. Purrble's heartbeat has an incredibly soothing quality on children (and adults). Sensors within the companion respond to touch and fidgeting to help your child find their zen. Ages 3-103.
KidiZoom Creator Cam - Kids can create awesome videos with this high-definition video camera kit using the included green screen and over 20 animated backgrounds to get chased by a T-Rex, go to outer space or make someone disappear! Use the tabletop tripod/selfie stick and built-in microphone to set up and film the shot, then use the easy on-screen editing and creativity tools to create trick shots and time-lapse videos. Not only will you watch the innovation flourish, but know they are perfecting their planning and editing skills, too. Ages 5–10.
Sno-Bash Snowshoes Kit - The human immune system can be activated when exposed to the cold, enhancing the body's ability to fight infections, so get them outside! The whole family can get out and explore together or kids can explore the backyard on their own. Ages 6-10 for this set but both REI and LL Bean have sets available for all ages.
Roll-Up Piano According to neuroscientists, playing the piano has a positive effect on brain development. Unroll this silicone strip and learn to play in a snap thanks to the play-by-color songbook. Roll it up to take it on-the-go or store it until the next jam session. Whether your child is a budding rock star or a seasoned vet, the Rock-N-Roll-It Piano is a fascinating adventure musicians of all levels will love. Ages 6+.
Grandparent Pen Pal Kit As a family with far away grandparents, this set is a wonderful gift to encourage communication between family members. Writing, in any format helps with spelling and grammer and encourages kids to ask thoughtful questions. Kodomo Boston also offers a similar Pen Pals Kit (not specific to grandparents) depending on to whom your child writes. Ages 6+.
Ace 3 Activity Tracker Encourage movement with Fitbit's brand new kid designed activity tracker. Kids are encouraged to get up and move, they can track their steps, start family challenges, and monitor sleep habits. It is compatable with a kid friendly app so kids can check their stats at any time. Ages 6-12.
Cross Stitch Kit - Cotton Clara's cross stitch kits are created for beginners of any age! Cross stitch kits are completed by using a pattern to count along the squares of the fabric and add in cross stiches which encourages counting and concerntration, as well as fine motor skills. The company will even send you a free kit to practice your stitches before diving into your new project. Each kit comes with everything you need and easy to read instructions. Ages 7+.
Gravitrax Starter Set - Gravitrax is an unbelievable marble run set that kids build using gravity, magnetism, and kinetics to propel the marbles to the finish line. Problem solving and decision making really come into play as they create new tracks time and again. There are a number of different set add ons including a zipline, catapault and height set, all making this a gift for years to come! Ages 8+.
Canopy Diffuser - Not the most exciting toy (not a toy at all). You may get some raised eyebrows when they receive this gift, but everyone will love the increased focus and clarity the mood boosting aromatherapy this diffuser provides. This diffuser is waterless, making it ideal to be in your child's room without worrying about big spills. Ages 8+.
Makeblock STEM Robot - This transformable robot kit is a great gift for kids who like to build (and take apart and rebuild). The mBot Ranger is controlable with entry-level coding and can be programed and operated via iPad, tablet, or laptop. It comes with ready-to-use projects built-in so that kids can jump in and play right away but also continues to foster ingenuity as they become more experienced coders. Ages 10+.
Art Set with Easel In a world filled with anxiety, the importance of outlets for kids is more meaningful than ever before. My child keeps an easel set up in her room at all times which encourages her to let out emotion on paper. Whether she writes, draws, paints, or plays games with friends, having this canvas readily available encourages creativity and self expression. I love this French easel because the storage in the back makes clean up a breeze. Ages 10+.
Book of the Month If you have a tween or teen, you may find it increasingly difficult to find the right holiday present. This gift option emails your child once a month allowing them to pick from 5 newly released books (or a past option if none of the new releases appeal to their tastes). Ages 13+.
Retailers are offerring deals earlier this year than ever before, so plan accordingly! As always, shop small and local when possible! If you are in search of even more great options for the young people in your life, Smart Gifts I and Smart Gifts II are still available with my recommendations from years past. Happy gifting!