Friday, November 16, 2012

Elementary Activities: Our Top 10 Favorite Educational Gifts {For Elementary Age Kids}

By: Tiffany Rudd

If you're like me, Thanksgiving doesn't just mean turkey and pie, it also means the beginning of Christmas shopping. With Black Friday and, my preferred, Cyber Monday just around the corner it's time to get going!

Since we have 9 kids between us and a few Christmases of experience, we thought we'd share a list of our favorite educational gifts for each age group. Some of these are favorites from the past, some of them are favorites right now, and some of them are on our wish lists for this year. Hopefully you'll find one or two that will get your elementary age child excited about learning this year!

1. Books! Of course, we have to start with our all time favorite gift...The Knights of Right book series by M'Lin Rowley (Deborah's daughter). Whether you have an avid reader, or a struggling reader, there is nothing better than a book series to keep a child reading. These books are entertaining and teach important life lessons at the same time.
2. Mind Games: My son loves games, so I'm always looking to find games that are fun but also stretch and challenge his mind. Two of his favorites right now are Spot It! and Hoppers Jr.
He's loved the Hoppers game so much that this year, I'm considering getting him this Rush Hour game. Deborah's two youngest also love to play Chess together. This No Stress Chess set would be perfect for a beginner.
3. Science Kits: If your child is interested in science, there are so many fun kits to get him/her experimenting. This year I've been eyeing this Big Bag of Science by Steve Spangler and this Pop Bottle Science kit. These Scientific Explorer Kits are especially fun! They have Disgusting Science, Spa Science, Tasty Science, and even Magnificent Manicure Science. Brooklyn is my experimenter, so she'll definitely be getting some of these in the future.
4. Craft Kits: A few years ago when Brooklyn was born Deborah's girls had gotten a knitting kit for Christmas. I got the funnest packages in the mail and my baby girl had the cutest knit hats. There are so many fun craft kit options like Knot a Quilt, Crochet Art, a Friendship Bracelet Kit, or even Shrinky Dinks Deluxe. Shrinky Dinks were a huge hit with Deborah's 10 year old last Christmas.
5. Fashion Design Kits: Deborah's daughter Shannon loved anything to do with fashion design growing up. Here favorite gift was one similar to this Fashion Studio. The Melissa & Doug Fashion Design Activity Kit is one of Brooklyn's favorite activities.
6. Art Kits: Sometimes the best gifts encourage open-ended creativity like this Art Supply Set or Crayola's Model Magic Set.
7. Mystery Games: Cameron loves clues and mysteries, so I know one day he will love Benjamin's Mystery Deck, this TriTective Game, or these Choose Your Own Adventure books (I loved these growing up!). They also make Bella's Mystery Deck for girls.
8. Word Games: I already mentioned that Cameron is into basically any game. Since his reading and writing is getting better and better, I'm looking for fun word games this year. I've heard great things about Bananagrams and this HedBanz Game.
9. Cooking Sets: Deborah's daughter Natalie has always been into cooking and baking, so her favorite gifts growing up were cooking sets like this Curious Chef Cupcake Set, or this My Chocolate Boutique.
10. Building Sets: I know they are old-school, but Lego and Erector Sets are classics for a reason! :) And, now that Lego finally clued in and made their Lego Friends sets they are even more accessible to boys and girls.

Okay, so technically that was a few more than 10! :) In creating this list, we came to the conclusion that the key to picking an educational gift for older kids is finding things that fit their interests. As a parent it doesn't get much better than finding a gift that gets loved and played with and also helps your child learn and grow!

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