10 (More) Smart Gift Ideas for Kids

With the holidays upon us finding the right gift is on many parents’ (and grandparents’) minds.  But no one needs more junk in their house!

Last year I published a post that seemed to be quite popular titled “10 Smart Gift Ideas for Kids.”  I thought this year I’d offer parents additional gift ideas for kids that not only offer educational value, but also keep kids engaged long after the holidays are over.  On top of that, most of these gifts are quite affordable!  Be sure to share this post with family and friends who might also be looking for some smart gift ideas for their kids!

1)  Angry Birds Mega Smash Board Game and Angry Birds Knock on Wood Game – Like most kids (and many adults) my 10-year old loves “Angry Birds.”  There have been a number of toys and games that have sprouted up around this phenomenon, but after doing some research I decided to buy the “Angry Birds Mega Smash Board Game” for my son for Christmas (shhh…don’t tell him!)  According to reviews, the “Knock on Wood” game can be a good accompaniment to “Mega Smash,” i.e. you can use the pieces from the two games together if you like.  So maybe my son will get “Knock on Wood” for his birthday?  In any case, the games require that the players build a structure according to a “mission card” before their opponent can knock it down.  Doesn’t require reading skills so can be used by kids of all ages (as long as they’re past the age of putting everything in their mouths!)

2)  Brainbox Animals – I recommended “Brainbox The World” and “Brainbox U.S.A.” last Christmas, but I didn’t realize until recently that there are a number of Brainbox games available.  I plan to get “Brainbox Animals” this Christmas because I don’t know anyone, kid or adult, that doesn’t love learning more about animals…and it’s still a great way to teach geography.  One of the wonderful aspects of the Brainbox games is that you can spend as little or as much time as you like playing the game.  In our family, we usually say whoever earns “X” number of cards wins.  So you can play a few rounds, or play for 30 minutes or more.  It’s all up to you!

3)  Qwirkle The Board Game – After reading the reviews of this game I’ve realized I’m going to have to get it for my family.  Qwirkle is another family game that does not require your kids to be able to read in order to play (though from what I gather the younger ones may need a little help at first).  Apparently it is as fun for adults as it is for the kids, and some reviewers have actually used it to help patients with dementia, because the strategizing helps with their memory skills.  Some reviewers described it as “Scrabble,” but with colors and shapes instead of words.  I find this appealing because, even if your younger ones can read and spell, coming up with words in “Scrabble” can still be quite a challenge.

4)  Mindware Logic Links Puzzle Box – Like “Qwirkle,” this is a game created by Mindware.  I recommend it particularly because it is the rare game that a child can play alone, yet this is the case for “Logic Links Puzzle Box.”  The game also does not become obsolete quickly since there are 166 puzzles to solve!  Specifically designed to teach logic and reasoning skills…sounds like I’m going to be buying this one too!

5)  G. A. Henty Books – If you are unfamiliar with the works of G.A. Henty you are in for a treat.  Henty originally weaved these stories for his own children.  Written in the 19th century, they were out of print for many years, but have been brought back for a new generation.  With wonderful values, these historical novels are very educational and captivating as well.  I’ve bought about 20 of these titles for my boys and they love them.  Because my 24-year old read so many of these when he was younger, he is my go-to whenever I have a question about the kings and queens of England.  The amount of information he has remembered years after reading these books is impressive!

6)  Wee Sing America – I don’t know about you, but I realized not too long ago that one facet missing from my 10-year old’s education was a knowledge of patriotic songs.  Many years ago I had “Wee Sing America” on cassette tape and my older kids and I had listened to it in the car many times.  But that was a while ago and that tape is long gone.  So I bought the “Wee Sing America” CD for my 10-year old and he loves it!  I played it in the car one time and he was hooked.  He will put it in the computer and listen to it as he plays games or works on his schoolwork.  I will now often hear him singing or humming songs like “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”  It also has a nice selection of folk songs you may not be familiar with.  A great selection of songs…I highly recommend it!

7)  Signing Time DVD’s – I bought the “Signing Time” DVD’s for my son when he was a toddler.  The kids in these DVD’s are adorable and my son (and his older siblings) learned quite a bit of sign language at the time.  If you really want your child to become proficient in sign language, you will have to continue with another program, but this is a great way to introduce very young children to signing.

8)  The Kids’ Book of Chess – I know some of you chess aficionados out there will laugh at me for admitting this…but I actually didn’t understand the game of chess until I bought this set for my kids a couple of decades ago (yes, it was that long ago!)  I had played chess, but I didn’t understand it.  I’ve never become a chess addict, and if you are you may not need this set, but if you aren’t a chess champ and you’d like to introduce your child (and maybe yourself) to chess, this set is great for understanding the roles of the different pieces and even teaches some history.  Also includes an actual chess set so you can start playing right away…I still have this original chess set and my children still play with it!

9)  Ralph Moody Book Series – I absolutely LOVE this series of books which is based on the life of the author, Ralph Moody.  I will admit that I cannot get through the end of the first book, Little Britches, without crying.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!  A great series for family reading.  The resourcefulness of the family in this book puts today’s entitled mindset to shame.  Read.  These.  Books!

10) SmartMax Basic Set 42 – Ordinarily I recommend toys and games that can be played by a variety of ages and, in fact, many of the gifts I have recommended here and on my “10 Smart Gift Ideas for Kids” post from last year can be played by the entire family.  But I thought it would be a nice idea to include a suggestion for those of you who have a lot of little ones underfoot.  This SmartMax set might seem pricey, but if you have toddlers it could be worth its weight in gold!  Additionally, kids never seem to grow out of playing with toys that have magnets, so it is likely this toy would be used for many years.  There are smaller SmartMax sets you can buy, and also add-on sets, so you can grow this toy for years to come.  Definitely a toy for parents of young ones to check out!

Do you have any smart gift ideas for kids or families?  If so, please share them in the comments!