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  • Writer's pictureLindsey Valente

LVEC's Smart Gift List 2023

My annual Educational Gift List for kids of all ages is back with more gift suggestions than ever before. As a mom, I am always on the lookout for toys that teach and entertain. Some of these are yet to be tested in my household, but I am so excited about them that my children will be receiving an item or two on this list. Don't tell!

  • Bauhaus Floating Primary Blocks geometric figures are the coolest interactive blocks for littles & not so littles! Easy-to-pile while educating babies into basic shapes and colors that surround them. Great for bathtub play! Kids will develop fine motor skills while boosting their imaginations and creativity. Ages 0-2.

  • Dëna Diversity Kids are manufactured with platinum silicone, which is bpa free, pvc free, latex free, phthalate free and 100%-safe platinum silicone is a soft material that feels great to babies and kids. Dëna diversity is a tribute to the beauty of all skin tones, encouraging empathy, equality and diversity. Kids can use these to teethe, stack, bathtime, cooking and more! Ages 0-3.

  • Big Feelings Nesting Fruits allow kids to build essential social-emotional learning (SEL) skills as they explore this toddler learning toy's friendly nesting fruit! Double-sided fruit faces introduce kids to 10 different emotions and help them learn opposites and talk about feelings! Each of the Big Feelings Nesting Fruit Friends comes with fun, grabbable textures that help kids strengthen fine motor and sensory skills as they play! Ages 1.5+.

  • Uncle Goose Sign Language Blocks devote one sign language symbol to each block which encourage ASL fingerspelling. Learning sign language, which is recognized as a foreign language, helps children enhance linguistic and congitive skills and improves both spacial and visual perception. Ages 2+.

  • Busy Board for Basic Skills helps children to devlop fine motor skills and problem solving capabilities by practicing hands-on everyday skills. There are a number of these board available (some more aesthetically pleasing to your home than others), though I like this one because it is a portable and colorful option that will appeal to young children. Ages 3-6.

  • Balancing Polar Circle encourages your little one to move carefully, think critically and play imaginatively, all while enjoying a fun way to learn! How many Arctic animals can you add to the platform before they fall off? This wood balancing game challenges kids to develop dexterity and problem solving skills needed to place blocks without making the animals tumble over! Ages 3+.

  • Finger Labyrinth Anxiety in children is at an all time high. Finding ways to incorporate meditation and calming skills into everytday life is beneficial for children and their parents alike. Simply focus on the path with your finger and take deep breaths, clearing your mind, and encouraging the brain to slow down. Ages 3+.

  • Plan Toys Timber Tumble This wooden game can be played with 1-4 players. Push out logs ony by one from the dam without sending the beaver tumbling! The whole family can have fun together as they see who has the steadiest hand and nerve whicle simutaniously developing hand-eye coordination, patience, and strategic skills. Ages 3+.

  • Civic Engineer Washi Tape improves infrastructure for toy cars and enhances your toy town. Perfect for imaginative play at home or when you're on the road. Easy to remove and wider than before. 10 meters of paper washi tape with bike lanes, crosswalks, and intersections. Ages 4+.

  • DIY Nature Press allows children to discover the beauty of nature by collecting plants and flowers and then using the portable, easy-open and close press to dry them. Use gathered plants with the 30 provided illustrated pictures and cards to foster imagination and creativity. Ages 5+.

  • Retro Juggling Balls are the perfect gift for any athlete on your list. Coaches from a number of different sports claim that learning to juggle builds hand-eye coordination in ways that improve reaction time, reflexes, spatial awareness, strategic thinking, and concentration while also improving confidence. Ages 5+

  • Pixicade Mobile Game Maker allows kids to use colored markers and paper to turn hand drawings into instantly playable video games! Create your own character, build obstacles for them to overcome, and design the goal for how to win the game! Encourage positive screen time and make teaching moments more memorable using art, engineering, story, creativity, and playing video games! Ages 6-12.

  • Tacto Chess turns your tablet into an interactive chess set and uses tactile figurines to drive the gameplay on screen. Tacto makes chess for beginners fun and interactive with animated story-based themes with chess battles for bananas, candy, and glory! The chess set has a move predictor mode helps you understand what your opponent’s next move could be. Ages 6-12.

  • Knot Board is a great stocking stuffer for everyone. Working with rope focuses on fine motor skills and can come in handy in a variety of activies such as: camping & backpacking, rock climbing, boating & sailing, horse riding, easy fishing knots, saltwater fishing, and fly fishing. Ages 6+.

  • Magic Trick Set with easy to master tricks for young and new magicians. Magic is an incredible way to play! Learning close-up tricks helps strengthen fine motor skills, while misdirection tricks and illusions allow kids to build stories and boost their social-emotional intelligence through dynamic interaction. Follow easy to read step-by-step directions to perform in front of family and friends, which builds confidence, self-esteem, and presentation skills. Ages 6+.

  • Braille Legos support proficiency at tactile reading which increases one's understanding and empathy of the visually impaired. Learning a challenging new skill, such as tactile reading, boosts self-confidence, stimulates the growth of neuron connections. Lego offers a number of different online activities to encourage children to learn through play with these bricks. Ages 6+.

  • Day & Night Globe displays a detailed, exquisitely designed physical and political map of Earth. At a glance, you can see country borders, mountains, rivers, and more. When the internal illumination is switched on in night mode, a map image with the most important stars and constellations shines through from the inside, revealing a beautiful representation of the starry sky. Comes with a full-color manual about geography and astronomy. Ages 7+.

  • Scout It Out is packed with maps, facts, and fun! Roll the die to get clues and scout the state. In this game of rotating clues, you must be the first player to guess the correct state to win the Game Card and a Bonus Token. Think hard, pay very close attention to what others say, and make smart guesses. Ages 7+.

  • Imagi Coding Charm is a favorite of tech teachers because it promotes confidence grounded in coding skills. Kids code with Python in the app and then display their designs on this charm which can be worn as an accessory on backpacks, bags or as a keychain. The kit includes in-app interactive tutorials, quick feedback loops, and colorful results. Plus, the company is founded by women. Ages 8-13.

  • Art-chitect Home Design Kit allows future architects to design a 3D model house - acrylic work surface, base boards and interchangeable wall pieces, floor plan grid, drafting pencil and triangle with protractor, compass, furniture templates, colored pencils, vinyl decals for decorating, and more! All that's needed is imagination. This set introduces artistic kids to building principles, and it allows construction kids the opportunity to express their creative sides. Ages 8-13.

  • Smart Lab Squishy Human Body lets kids enter the twisted world of the human body! Complete with removable squishy organs as well as representative skeletal, vascular, and muscular systems, kids explore the complex inner workings of the human body and literally see how it all works! Ages 8+.

  • My Paper Doll offers a number of coloring paper doll activity kits, each featuring a charming character along with a wardrobe of beautifully hand-illustrated clothing and accessories, ready for you to color-in and style. Personalized paper dolls promote problem solving and creativity! as well as increasing communication abilities and motor skills. Ages 8+.

  • GoCube is an app-enabled version of the classic confounding cube. The interactive tutorials and tools will help you tackle the puzzle while making the challenge more fun. Play, practice, and track progress with mini-games, while the app does cool things like sense the cube’s orientation, measure its activity, and work with you to get it solved. Battle fellow cubers online (yes, “cubers” is a thing). There are different levels of play to fit all ages and degrees of experience. It even lights up so you can cube in the dark. Ages 8+.

  • Smart Machines 5 in 1 Buildable Drone allows for building a high-tech, flying camera drone and four other camera-enabled robotic models. Control the robots using the remote-control interface in the included app, or write programs using an easy, visual programming language in the app. This set includes four electric motors, a central controller unit, and an included lithium battery, as well as over one hundred building pieces. Thames & Kosmos is commitmentted to creating high-quality toys with a firm foundation in the scientific method. Ages 8+.

  • Ravine "Crafty and Cooperative" Game is a strategic and cooperative survival card game. You and your friends survived the plane crash, but will you survive the night? Work together to forage for food, craft a fire, and build shelters, but be wary: every step you take in the ravine could be one step closer to madness. Ages 10+.

  • AudioBook Subscription and Earbuds make a great gift for the teen set. There are many different audiobook companies with various subscription options, so pick the one that best fits you and the person you are gifting it to. I like the idea of combining aa subscription with a pair of ear buds so that the receiver has something to open. I am gifting these Earbuds by Cubitt which get excellent reviews, come in six color options, and don't break the bank! Ages 12+.

As always, shop small and local when possible, though I know not everyone's budget allows for this. If you are in search of even more great options for the young people in your life, check out the other Smart Gift posts from years past on my blog. Happy gifting!

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