10 Smart Gift Ideas for Kids

With the holiday season coming up many parents are looking for gift ideas for their kids.  None of us want more junk cluttering our homes, so we try to plan and purchase gifts that will last – and that might even teach our kids something!  In this post I share 10 gift ideas that will entertain, teach, and benefit your child (and family) in any number of ways.  Moreover, most of these ideas are quite affordable (if not downright cheap!) with the exception of a language program that I recommend.  I encourage you to check these products out and consider buying one (or more) of them for your kids.  And don’t forget to share this post with other parents, grandparents, and others who could use some ideas for the young (and not so young) ones in their lives!

  1. Leapfrog – There are so many great Leapfrog products that can help your toddlers and pre-schoolers learn to read!  I particularly love the Phonics DVD’s “Letter Factory” and “Talking Words Factory.”  I can’t say conclusively that watching these DVD’s is the reason my youngest son taught himself to read by age four, but they certainly didn’t hurt!  The DVD’s are fun and they teach phonics in an incremental and easy-to-learn manner.  Another product my son used was the LeapPad.  But they have so many Leapfrog products now that I suggest you read some of the Amazon reviews to decide what would work best for your child.
  2. Brainbox All Around the USA and Brainbox All Around the World –  I bought “Brainbox All Around the World” as an addition to our school curriculum. It sounded like a great geography supplement for my then 3rd grader.  What I didn’t know was what a fun game it would be for our whole family to play.  This is the rare game that young children can play with older siblings and parents and no one gets bored.  The rules say to play for ten minutes to decide a winner but we play for however long we want.  We might play for ten minutes or for 30 minutes.  This is a great memory game (which can sometimes give the kids an advantage!)  You’ll be surprised how fun it is!
  3. Monopoly Deal –  I don’t know about you but I hate the game of Monopoly.  Besides the fact that my older brother always won when we were kids (often by coercion!) it simply takes too long to play.  Monopoly Deal, on the other hand, is a quick game that kids and adults can enjoy.  As a matter of fact, my mom was the one who introduced Monopoly Deal to my kids after playing it with some of my cousins.  My kids have enjoyed playing it with their grandmother when she visits.  Additionally, it’s a perfect game to take on trips – it’s just a deck of cards!
  4. Penguins On Ice –  Recommended for ages 6 to adult, Penguins on Ice is an award-winning  game of strategy requiring the player to fit pieces of ice on the playing surface so that they all fit and so that the penguins are in their correct places.  For one thing, this game just looks so cute!  In addition, it can be played by one child which can be an advantage at times!  From what I’ve read, it can be a little addicting for adults too!
  5. Learn Movie Making Guide with Stop Motion Animation –  I’ve talked before about my nine-year old’s fascination with/obsession for all things Pixar.  His love for Pixar runs so deep that when he was four years old and saw a news spread about one of the executive producers he exclaimed, “That’s John Lasseter!”  In any case, I had been wanting to find some way to allow him to develop his movie-making skills (he’s been making PowerPoint slides of “movie credits” since he was five).  Well, I found what I was looking for in “Learn Movie Making Guide with Stop Motion Animation.”   This guide teaches kids how to use toys they have around the house – Legos, action figures, clay, poster board, etc. to make stop-motion movies (think “Wallace and Grommet”).  I first had my older sons teach my youngest how to set up scenes and work the included web-camera.  But within a short time he was making his own movies!  I have been shocked at what he has been able to learn and accomplish in such a short time.  The Learn Movie Making Guide also comes with the necessary software for your child to record, edit and add sounds to their movie.  Add your own mike and they can add voices as well.  If your child shows an interest in creating their own movies, this may be just the start they need!
  6. The Best Of Sewing Machine Fun for Kids – Though I took “Home Ec” in school, I am by no means a seamstress.   I can repair a small tear in a seam or sew on a button, but that’s about it!  My daughter on the other hand is an incredibly creative young lady and when she was young she wanted to learn to sew.  She was about eleven years old at the time.  We bought my daughter a used sewing machine and once a week I worked with her using this book.  While I have read reviews of this product by people who have much more skill than I have, I was able to help my daughter develop a proficiency at using a sewing machine by following the projects in this book.  And as it turned out, my daughter did love sewing and eventually became an excellent seamstress.  As a matter of fact, her first job at the age of 16 (not counting the years she spent babysitting!) was working for a uniform store doing their alterations!  I can’t promise your child will someday make a living from using this book but it will give them a great headstart on learning to use a sewing machine properly.
  7. Prismacolor Colored Pencils – If you have a child who is artistically inclined I encourage you to consider purchasing a set of Prismacolor pencils for them!  Compared to the cheap, low-quality colored pencils you can purchase just about anywhere, Prismacolor colored pencils are true tools for the artist in your life.  I bought a set many years ago and we are still using them!  They give true colors and last (seemingly) forever!  Well worth the price!
  8. Lightwedge – Do you have a kid that loves to read on long car trips or camp-outs?  Or maybe they fall asleep with the light on while reading late at night (as my daughter used to do!)  Forget clip-on booklights – Lightwedge is the answer!  This “booklight” simply lays over the page you are reading, so your child can read without disturbing others (like a sibling sleeping in their car seat).  And if your child (or you?) fall asleep while reading, Lightwedge uses very little battery (and you can even buy Lightwedges that are rechargeable if you prefer).  I bought one of these for my daughter many years ago and she loved it.  Great for kids…or any reader in your life!
  9. Apples to Apples –  If you’ve never heard of “Apples to Apples” you really need to consider purchasing this game.  Designed for a group to play (the more people the better) this game is a wonderful find!  My kids have played it many times at parties with friends and we’ve played it at family gatherings accompanied by much laughter and fun…it may be my kids favorite game!  Take it with you to family reunions, camp-outs, just about anywhere, and it will be a hit!
  10. Rosetta Stone – As I said earlier, this gift recommendation is not inexpensive.  And it might seem strange to include a foreign language program as a gift idea, but not if you understand how fun Rosetta Stone can be.  My youngest has been using Rosetta Stone (Italian) for about two years now and he loves it!  As a matter of fact, he was incredibly excited to find out that there were additional levels that we could get for him.  Rosetta Stone is the kind of program that is self-paced and easy for kids to use.  Many adults enjoy Rosetta Stone too, so you might consider it for someone in your life who has been wanting to learn a language, regardless of their age!
I hope these gift ideas will make your holiday shopping a little easier!  Let me know what you think of my ideas and share your own gift ideas in the comments!
  • Captious Nut

    My son LOVES the Rosetta Stone (Spanish)!

    Of course our copy of the software was *procured* through my wife’s work.

    • Anonymous

      I put off buying Rosetta Stone for awhile because of the cost but it’s well worth it.  One level has lasted us over two years now.  And the fact that my son loves to use it is certainly an added benefit…not to mention it’s something that he can use completely independently.

      I’m glad your son has had such a positive experience with it and thanks for sharing!

  • Colette Galivan

    I love the fact that you taught me to sew despite the fact that you hadn’t specifically trained as a seamstress! 🙂   Thank you for all the years you patiently helped me figure out pattern directions. 😉

    • Anonymous

      You’re welcome sweetie!  We had some fun times for sure!