Gift Ideas that are Fun and Educational

gift ideas that are fun and educational

Today, I sat around a table with some great friends of mine.  As our children all ran through the house and yard, we started sharing a few gift ideas with each other.  A few of the moms even ordered items I suggested on their phones as we chatted.

Even though most of you are probably already done with your Christmas shopping, I thought I’d take a minute to share a few ideas with you anyway.  These are items my children are getting for Christmas (or already received at a recent family gathering).

Most of these items come with a low price tag.  Other than the lego set, we paid less than $20 for each of these.  If they are higher priced than that, I would wait to buy them.  The high prices may be due to low stock.

In no particular order:

Kutz LEGO Chain Reaction Craft Kit.  This kit includes a fun book showing how to set up lego chain reactions as well as including lego pieces to do this.  Since I have a son who loves Rube Goldberg machines, I hope this kit sparks much more creativity in our lego building.

Awesome Lego Creations with Bricks You Already Have.  I’m excited about this book that finally just arrived at our house.  (Amazon was out of it for a week or two.)  There are step-by-step instructions to build all sorts of lego creations (animals, robots, etc) as well as “creative challenges” where they give you key lego pieces to collect but don’t spell out the directions.  I love the detailed supply lists for the projects and that we can use the legos we already own.

Klutz Star Wars Thumb Doodles Book Kit.  I was searching on Amazon for a craft book for my youngest.  This is the same style of book as this Sweet and Sparkly Fingerprint Kit Ruthie had years ago but with a Star Wars theme.  I know he is going to love it.  I remember Ruthie really getting into creative little art projects with her book, and I hope this one does the same for Gideon.

Mini Pom-Pom Pets craft kit. My daughter could use craft kits every day of the week.  I thought this one looked fun and had a few new skills in it. She has already been given Sew Mini Treats this week.

Lego Birds Model Kit.  These are display-worthy realistic birds, complete with Latin name plaques. Ruthie received these as a gift at a family gathering, and they are wonderful.  I was really impressed with this kit.  It’s apparently been discontinued by Lego but is still available for purchase.  I hope Lego makes more kits like this in the future.

 

And, there you have it.  Just a few educational but fun gift ideas.

Do you have gifts you are looking forward to giving this Christmas that are fun and educational?

 

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Fauna Game Review

A trivia game where you don’t have to know the answer!

Most trivia games require you know the exact answers and can be quite frustrating if you play with people who know a lot more than you.  Because of this, they don’t make good family games.  I remember playing Trivial Pursuit with my parents, and I had some fun, but I had no chance of winning.

Fauna is different!  In this animal trivia game, you get points for being close to the right answer.  This means that an educated guess could score you points, or you could just play next to someone else if you think they know the answer.

Fauna Cover

Each round the top of a card is revealed.  It tells you an animal, how many regions of the board it lives in, and its scientific name.  The card will also tell you if you are supposed to guess the weight, length, height, and tail length (you will guess at least 2 of these for each animal).

Fauna Card

On your turn you will use one of your 6 cubes to guess an answer.  You can place it in an area of the board to guess where it lives or on one of the numbered tracks at the bottom to guess one of the stats of the animal.  After each player places one cube, you have the option of placing another or passing.  Your cubes score points if they are correct guesses or if they are next to a correct guess.

Fauna Board with Cubes  Fauna Stats Cubes

Once all of the players have passed, you look at the bottom of the cards and see the correct answers.  All of your cubes that score points are returned to you, and the cubes that did not score are discarded.  Then each player is allowed to retrieve one of their discarded cubes.  If you have less than 3 cubes, you draw more so that you have 3 to start the next round.

The fact that you can lose cubes for incorrect guesses adds strategy to the game.  Sometimes you might only place a couple cubes so that you make sure you have some for a later card where you might know more info.

What I like about Fauna:

  • This game truly teaches you about the animals.
  • It plays up to 6 players.
  • It is fun (even though it is educational).
  • Our animal-loving kids actually have an advantage over us.
  • Even when you don’t have a clue, you can guess based on other people’s answers.
  • There are 360 different animal cards, and we only use about 6 per game.
  • Elijah likes the anticipation as he wait to see if he is right, and debating whether it is worth risking playing more cubes.
  • Ruth likes that we all guess on the same animal, not one person per animal.
  • Isaiah enjoys the fact that you get points for being close because it is hard to guess exactly.

Whether you enjoy animals or trivia, I think you will like Fauna.




Educational Gift-Giving Guide

When it gets to be this time of year, the thought of our house being filled with new toys can be overwhelming to say the least.  We like to suggest educational gifts to family members to help with this problem and often buy educational items for our children as well.  Seth and I compiled this list together and wanted to share some of our favorite past gifts as well as ideas for this year.

Educational Gift-Giving Guide

Preschool Ideas:

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Wooden Magnetic Pattern Blocks Set – Our children got this years ago, and it is still being used.  Gideon likes to make his own patterns as well as copying the patterns they provide.  The magnets make this a little easier to build.  Another reason this toy has stood the test of time is that everything can be stored in the bag provided.  I love when it is easy to store.  The storage bag has even held up for years.

A Subscription to “More Starfall” might be a great idea for someone with young children.  My children love Starfall especially the paid subscription part.  Honestly, even my first grader has learned a lot on Starfall since they have first and second grade math concepts as well as preschool.

School-age kids:

Timex “Time Teacher” Watch for girls or boys has been a wonderful tool in teaching the kids how to use an analog clock.  My daughter only takes hers off to shower and tells us the time often throughout the day.  There’s no stopping her now, and yet “reading a clock” did not have to be an planned part of our school day because her watch allowed practice throughout the day.  Items like this are great for having a lifestyle of learning.  Ruthie’s watch is getting so worn out, I think she will soon want to replace it with an older girl one like this.

Slackline might be great for your more adventurous children.  We do not have a slackline (yet),  but I look forward to getting one sometime.  It is a great way to practice balance and will give a good workout.  I can imagine challenging the kids to sing a particular skip counting song or all the Presidents while balancing.

Kinetic Sand seems like it would be great fun and educational.  We don’t own any yet, but Seth and I both have tried it out in stores and really think we would enjoy it as a family. Making recreations of history sentences or writing letters or words in it are the first two activities we thought of so far.  There are a number of brands, but Spin Master is the only one I have noticed that is labeled gluten free.  I think having a large bin (or two or three) of this would be a great addition to our learning.

Snap Circuits are great for learning about circuits and electricity.  Elijah received Snap Circuits Jr as a gift, but all of our children have enjoyed building circuits with the kit.  The instructions are great, easy to use, and the kids are always glad to show us what they built.  I think maybe we will need to get a bigger kit like this one some day.

Bug Catcher Kits are wonderful for exploring in the backyard.  We have this kit.  It allows you to observe an insect magnified on all sides.

Stocking Stuffer Ideas (or less expensive suggestions):

Wikki Stix or Bendaroos (big set – would split between kids if put in stockings) are fun bendable sticks.  We have used them for basic construction, making shapes or letters, or building scenes.  They can just be fun to play with while listening to classical music or a read-aloud as well.

Slinky is a toy, but it is also a great way to study transverse and compression waves.  Even if you don’t give any formal instruction with this, I think playing with a slinky helps kids develop a natural understanding of waves.

Thinking Putty is fun to fiddle with in your hands.  I have the Metallic Thinking Putty , and it is very cool (it even comes with a magnet).  The Liquid Glass putty is intriguing.

Break Your Own Geodes – Set of 12 would be great to split up among a number of children.  I have always thought geodes were cool, and these ones are less than $1 a piece.

Gyroscopes still fascinate me and teach important physics principles.

Card and dice games can fit nicely in stockings.  Here are some we like.

Blink Card Game is described as the world’s fastest game.  You need to visually match different attributes of cards while racing your competitor.  It only takes a few minutes to understand the rules and can be played very quickly.

Super Circles is another visual perception game.  The kids like to race me (Becki) to see if they can beat me.  Often, my competitor gets all the other children to help them try to beat me.

 7 ATE 9 is a math game that we do not have yet, but I think would be fun to practice our mental math skills.

Set is a more challenging visual perception game than Super Circles or Blink because you have to look at all characteristics to make a set of three cards (where the other two games, you only have to look at one characteristic at a time).

Think Fun Math Dice look like a great way to practice math.  We have Math Dice Jr., but I think we are ready to move up to the original game.

Other game ideas:

We love playing games in our family and have reviewed some of our favorites in the last year.  If we have already reviewed a game, we will share the link with you if you want to read more about it.

Learning Resources Sum Swamp Game is a fun game for younger children just learning addition and subtraction.  We shared about it earlier this year here.

Ticket To Ride is such a fun, family game and a good introduction to “German games” if you have never played them.  We strongly recommend the Ticket To Ride 1910 Expansion so that you have more ticket routes and full-size cards.  Our review can be found here.

Word On The Street is a fun word came for the whole family.  We shared about how our family could play the original game with everyone contributing at their own level.  I used to think we wouldn’t ever want Word On The Street Junior, but now I am thinking that it would be great for spelling practice.  (In the adult version, you do not have to spell the vowels of a word, but in the Junior edition, you have to spell the entire word.)

5 Second Rule has been on my wish list since last year.  It looks like a fun addition to our game collection where you need to name words quickly, but we have never played it.

Rise of Augustus Board Game is another German game.  I think it’s the easiest of all the German games we play.  Gideon has recently started playing with us too (He’s 5 and can’t read.)  We bought this as an impulse purchase and have had countless hours of fun with it.  We wrote about the game here.

Scrabble Flash is a one-player spelling game.  The simple electronics are nice for verifying a word is spelled correctly.

Lewis and Clark The Expedition is Seth’s new favorite game.  He just recently shared about it.  This one is a little more complicated than some games so if you are new to German games, I would suggest you try Ticket to Ride or Rise of Augustus first.

Great Audio Selections:

We always enjoy listening to audio stories around the house and in the van on trips.  These would make great present ideas as well.

For God and Country (Adventures in Odyssey) is a CD collection of American History Adventures in Odyssey stories.  My children enjoy listening to these while playing or drawing.

Bible Eyewitness Collector’s Set  is also Adventures in Odyssey.  This Amazon link says it is Old Testament stories, but we have the same collection (with a picture of the Resurrection on the cover).  Ours includes NT and OT.  My youngest will listen to these while others are doing school work.

The Chronicles of Narnia Collector’s Edition (Radio Theatre) is the entire collection of Focus on the Family’s Radio Theatre Chronicles of Narnia.  My mom collected these many years ago as separate CDs per book.  This is the entire set in one collection.  Since it is radio theatre, there are sound effects throughout the stories.  We really enjoy them, but I wanted to make sure you knew what you were getting.

Jim Weiss Audio CDs cover so many different stories and topics.  We have a few American history ones, but Jim Weiss also has Tall Tales, stories of King Arthur, and adventures from around the world.  We have enjoyed all the ones we own and look forward to owning more in the future.  (By the way, we are hosting a giveaway for a copy of his newest release here – ends 12/10.)

Books are always great choices!

In case you haven’t read our blog before, let me tell you a little about us.  We love books.  Getting a new book in a series on the day it is released is always exciting here.  In fact, we are constantly sharing some of our favorite library finds or new purchases.  Here are a few suggestions for gifts if you haven’t read these series yet.

Imagination Station Series is probably been the longest-lasting favorite in our house.  My oldest read his first Imagination Station book in first grade, and he still dives into them when a new one comes (in fourth grade).  We shared more about the series here.

The Action Bible is another favorite in our home.  It’s comic book style creates lots of interest.  We got The Action Bible Handbook at Easter, and Rutie enjoys using the two books together to look up all the stories about a particular person or topic.  We do not own The Action Bible Devotional, but it looks like it could be a good companion to the other two.

You Wouldn’t Want to Be Seriesis another favorite.  If you enjoy reading about history in a funny, quirky way, you will enjoy these.  We’ve written about them here and here (which includes a great place to buy a set of 10 of them).

You Choose Interactive History Adventures are a recent find.  We have read a number of them already from the library.  If your library does not have them (or if you have children like mine that want to read them over and over again), these are a great way to get someone interested in history.  My third and fourth graders love them.

The Kingfisher Animal Encyclopedia is great for an animal-loving child.  This was actually the only present my animal-loving son wanted for Christmas as a four year old.  Another great option is a newer book by the Institue for Creation Research called Guide to Animals.  

 

Our children genuinely enjoy getting educational gifts that fit their interests.  One of our children has even asked for a a periodic table poster for Christmas.  Sometimes, I think we are living one of Todd Wilson’s homeschool cartoons.

There is no reason every gift your child receives has to be a toy.  We hope this list is a blessing to your family and gives you new and creative gift ideas for your children.

 

This post contains affiliate links.