I hear the same question over and over again… What toys can I pick for my kids that they will actually use? Which toys have some educational value? How can I not waste my time, money and space on more toys? Fear not! Here are our top toy picks!
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Before we dive into the list, I wanted to let you know that all of these are under our tree this year or items we own and have used and loved. I’ve spent a lot of time researching and learning about the various products and found some winners. In some cases I have partnered with the creators of these items and they have provided me with products in exchange for my honest thoughts. I hope our list inspires you to find some fantastic gift ideas.
Recently I shared a list of stocking stuffer ideas for tweens. Take a peek at that list, there are many items on there that would make great presents too.
As most of you know, I also have a young film maker on my hands, so a big part of his gift pile this year is building him a film makers resource library. If you have a child that is in their tween or teen years, find out what they are passionate about and consider building them a small library on that subject.
Now… on to the toys!
TOP TOY PICKS FOR SMART KIDS
For Kids Who Love To Build
Last year we were introduced to the amazing world of VEX Robotics building kits, we built the Switchgrip and Crossfire and turned them into a fun math game. It was a fantastic STEM lesson. So this year we are continuing our love of building things and bringing more engineering into our lives with these really cool construction sets for kits. The one I am most excited is the littleBits Base Inventor Kit we are putting under the tree. We love playing with littleBits at the library and last year readers ranking littleBits as one of their top gift picks. The kids are going to be so excited! What kid doesn’t love the satisfaction and pride of building their own toy? Most of these kits are designed for tweens and teens. I found they make a fantastic group project for tweens and almost tweens.
Robotics and Programming Toys – Sphero
First up, I have to recommend one of our favourites… Sphero! Whenever I talk about our top toy picks, Sphero is top of the list. This year we are adding to our collection of Sphero with the new Sphero Mini. It’s about the size of a ping pong ball and has some amazing new capabilities, including being used as a game controller and a new feature called Face Drive. With Face Drive, it reads your facial expressions and uses them to control the Sphero. I see many hours of silliness in our future! Here is our current selection of Sphero. The best part is that all of the products updated recently and now we can program our BB-8 the same way we program our SPRK+. It’s giving us hours of entertainment and learning.
Gravitrax For STEM Kids Who Love Excitement
If there is one thing I am super excited about this year it is discovering Gravitrax. It’s like a marble maze, supersized and super fun! It is amazing for kids, teens, adults and families who love building and creating, but also want their creations to do something fun and amazing. The creativity and possibilities with this set are limitless and I can’t wait to take over our front room and fill it with our Gravitrax creations!
My kids LOVE family game nights, so every year we add a few new games to our shelves. Board games have great learning opportunities such as strategy, math, vocabulary, cooperation and more. Plus they are a ton of fun and provide wonderful bonding opportunities with no technology. Not really a toy, but still a great pick every time. Here are are few of our picks.
Puzzles calm my kids. We sit on the floor, pull out a puzzle and crawl around chatting as we put it all together. No matter what is going on, how tough of a day we have had, if I pull out a puzzle everyone gathers around and spends time together. Puzzles are always a top toy pick in our home. Just pick the level of difficulty and theme that best appeals to your family. I like to sneak in puzzles that also have my kids learning as they study the pieces. It can be a great conversation starter.
For The Littles
My boys are past the cute play stage but that doesn’t mean we don’t have other littles in our lives that are aspiring scientists, creators, makers, engineers or artists. For them this year we snagged an amazing Smart Engine Train set with all sorts of cool additions from Brio.
I can’t wait to rip open all the presents! Wait… I mean for the kids to open their presents. 😉