Regardless of what holidays you celebrate, the end-of-year festivities are right around the corner. If you choose to purchase gifts online, you need to order then in advance to allow for shipping time, backorders, and comparison shopping. We at GeekMom are here to help you with ideas for anyone on your gift list, from babies to grownups. We’ll be running a series of half a dozen or so posts, sorted by category or age group, with suggested gifts this holiday season. Many of our writers have contributed to our series of gift guides, so the ideas run the gamut from popular bestsellers to more obscure, interesting gifts with which you may not be familiar. Chances are there will be something that appeals to you. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments below.
This week’s guide is targeted at the grade school kids. Some of the gift ideas could be given to older kids, or even adults, but they are mostly aimed at the middle age kids. Don’t forget to check out the gift guides that have already run: Week #1: Books, Week #2: Games, and Week #3: Small Kids.
Sometimes kids want a remote control toy, but they aren’t into cars. Like at all. Zibits are a great option for those kids, since they are little remote control robot things that are portable and adorable.
Electronic Snap Circuits
Teach your kids (or yourself) basic electronic circuit concepts and diagrams without broken or bent wires, a breadboard, or confusing directions. There are many different sizes and levels of Electronic Snap Circuits available, ranging from teaching the very basics to much more complicated circuit design. Extensive project directions for a large number of projects are included with each kit. Once you’re familiar with basic circuit design, you can also create your own.
Secret Code Books
One thing kids always love to do is make up secret codes to share with their friends or hide from their siblings. Help them along with these sneaky books that teach different codes, for both decoding them and encrypting them. You may find that you start creating your own codes. Three resources that are great for codes are Genius Deck Secret Codes for Kids, Super Little Giant Book of Secret Codes, and Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing.
Eye Think Cinespinners
If you haven’t seen the products from Eye Think Inc., get ready to be amazed. These spinning discs that are designed to hang in a brightly lit window are designed to trick the eye. The Cinespinner subjects seem to move in the slightest breeze. The dog lopes along. Fingers play a keyboard. It’s a unique gift idea that comes in countless themes and will appeal to a wide variety of ages and interests. The spinners range in price from $12.75 to $19.75.
Eye Think Strobotop LightPhase Animator
Do you need a gift that will appeal to older kids, but also amaze the little ones and grownups in the room? Check out the newest product from those amazing people at Eye Think Inc. It’s called the Strobotop LightPhase Animator and it has to been seen to be believed. All you have to do is spin the plastic disc, then aim a special flashlight at its center. By just adjusting the speed of the blinking light, you can make pictures on the disc come to life. Animals leap and gallop. Children run and play. Kaleidoscopic patterns move and change. For under $25.00, with a nice variety of discs to choose from, this gift would be a delight for any geek kid.
Hexbug Nanos and Hexbug Habitats
Set up the Habitat, turn on the bugs, and let the kids go. They’ll spend hours letting their Hexbugs run around their Habitats, and they will constantly arrange and rearrange the setup. The sets are great for playing with at home and with friends, but a larger set with plenty of Hexbugs is a perfect birthday party activity!
Charlie’s Playhouse Giant Timeline and Creature Cards
Done by GeekMom’s very own Kate Miller, these evolution-based toys and learning materials will teach your kids while they play. Kids spend hours matching the cards to the timeline, playing the suggested games, or making up games on their own. My kids prefer to create their own fun and learning by just pretending, reading the cards and timeline, and just absorbing the material in their own way.
Wall Coaster encourages kids to design all sorts of fascinatingly different contraptions right on the wall. The set comes with 16 feet of track and tubing, 8 marbles (including 4 glow in the dark), and non-marking putty to use over and over again to mount different versions on the wall. The whole set, including packaging, is made from 90% post-consumer recycled plastic. Two sets might be even more fun. Recommended for ages 5 to 12, not for under 3 due to danger posed by marbles. $21.96
Bubber by Delta of North America (makers of moon sand)
Another Swedish invention (Yay Sweden!), this is very similar to moon sand. Made of micro-ground ceramic dust it will not, I repeat, will not stain clothes, carpets, dogs, or walls. Non-toxic and absolutely mind-blowing. It acts is rock hard and cashmere soft all at the same time. Shape it, bounce it, sculpt it, stick it, smoosh it. Hours of fun in a tub.
Seedling Kits by KidO
Based out of New Zealand, the company motto is planting ideas, growing minds. And boy, they nailed it. Everything from cooking to making a kaleidoscope these kits are all inclusive and all-absorbing. They have everything you need for making the project and then some. My personal favorite is the 3-cube puzzle block. (Those kind that you flip around in crazy ways and it makes different pictures on the sides) Seedling has made a kit for that. Forget apps. Go for Seedling Kits.
Ogobild-Geo Building Balls by OgoSports (Available on ThinkGeek)
What would happen if Lego bricks met confetti and bred? You’d end up with Ogobild-Geo Building Balls. Rubber to plastic to I don’t know what are combined in unique and intriguing ways. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to what you can assemble. I like them because its not just poking pieces into a set pattern and making about four basic shapes. The Ogobild-Geo sets lend themselves to hooking and stringing and stretching and twisting. Basically it is a toy without boundaries. And it multi-tasks. As a mom I need all things to multi-task. It’s a winner on my list.
Superhero Starter Kit
A great go-to present for anyone in the three to five range, the Superhero Starter Kit comes with the essential shiny, durable red cape, and of course masks, wrist bands, and stickers to transform your kids into any superhero they can imagine.
DC Universe Squatz
Aw, look at the squatty little superheros! DC Universe Squatz collectible figures are a great stocking stuffer. Each pack comes with one visible character and one mystery character embedded in dissolving tablets. The best part is that they have interchangeable heads. Superman and Wonder Woman look pretty awesome when they swap bodies, don’t you think?
These high-quality, wooden marble sets are as gorgeous as they are fun to play with. Arrange the setup any way you like, and run your marbles down the run. The sets are not cheap, but you don’t have to worry about these breaking. Many different sets are available, so you can customize your own collection.
Stay tuned next week for our fifth gift guide!