Many fun surprises this year.
Babies & Toddlers:
This turquoise Bear Ear baby hat will keep the baby’s head warm. It is made from 100% hand harvested pima cotton. It comes in 3M and 6M sizes. $10.00.
For the latest baby in your life, this hedgehog baby blanket is the cutest! It is made from a blend of recycled yarns and is reversible. It is outdoor-friendly and machine washable. It also comes in pink or blue. $80.00.
Gecko Blocks are a brand new construction toy made of colorful foam blocks that magically stick together. They are coated with a non-toxic silicone adhesive. They will stick to each other as well as glass, a shower wall or the bathtub. They are durable and safe and easy to keep clean. Simply use them in the bath tub or wash them with a damp towel. Appropriate for 2 years old and up. $29.95
These hand-felted baby and mother polar bears are adorable! They are stitched by artisans in Nepal. Buy one alone or the pair. The baby is 8” H x 12”L and $36.00 and the mother is 11”h x 16”L and $48.00.
Fisher-Price Think and Learn Rocktopus is a music-loving octopus who can’t wait for the music to begin. Aimed at pre-schoolers, there are 15 different instruments for the kids to mix and match and create tunes. The 15 unique instruments are across five different genres of music, allowing a hands on physical approach to learning, as preschoolers mix (and remix) their own musical creations. They are in control of their compositions by adding or subtracting instruments, changing the tempo and adding in fun effects. Download the free app to create music videos to go along with the music they create. Appropriate for ages 3 – 6. $49.44.
Two brothers started the Tegu company in Honduras, the third poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, to help the economy there. The blocks have magnets hidden in them. This is a simple toy that supports a child’s development. The 24-piece Tegu Magnet Wooden Block set is $45.50. Ages 12 months and up.
Ages 4 and older:
Recently The New York Times had an article about a cooking instruction kit subscription designed for kids ages 4 – 14 called Raddish. The recipes are quite sophisticated – corn pudding, rosemary focaccia and hot cocoa cupcakes – for example. The step-by-step recipes are user-friendly and simple to follow. There is a unique theme with each box that includes math, science, geography, culture and history in the fun culinary lesson. A subscription would make a wonderful gift and runs $20 – $24 a month. An apron comes with a 12 month subscription. Each box contains a utensil and a completion patch. Ingredients are not included in the kits, but Raddish emails a shopping list ahead of time.
When You Grow Up To Vote by Eleanor Roosevelt is a book which inspires active citizenship for future voters. It was originally written in 1932, the year her husband was first elected President. This just-released new edition has updated illustrations by Grace Lin. Appropriate for ages 6 – 12. $13.51.One of many things Europe does well is create innovative toys for kids who deserve engagement and intellectual curiosity. All toys do not have to beep or light up. Eitech toys are made in Germany. Kids get to build things from scratch. They can build the construction machinery and then build the structures. They can mix concrete and use real pint-size terra-cotta slabs. This crane set has 20 pieces and is appropriate for ages 8 and up. It is good for beginners and promotes fine motor skills. $29.99.
I also like the Basic Jeep kit. It is appropriate for ages 8 and up. $10.99.
Xyloba was created by a Swiss inventor to share his love of music with his children. Kids build towers and ramps with the wood blocks that have xylophone chimes built into them. Arrange them correctly and the marbles will play a song as they roll down to the bottom. It’s very cool! Basic kits are $89.00. Ages 4 and up.
This vintage kids Toucan desk lamp is from the 80’s and is wonderful. It is made from plastic. There are several to choose from. $88.33.
Is there a child on your list who thinks they want to be a doctor? Give them this Virtuali-Tee. It helps kids learn about the human body – from their own body! It uses augmented reality and amazing 3D learning experiences to explore the circulatory, respiratory and digestive systems with fully immersive 360 videos. It has a new way to connect to the body wearing the tee – the app measures the wearer’s heart rate and allows them to visualize the heart rate live in augmented reality. Download the app, put on the tee, scan the tee and tap anywhere on the screen to peel back the layers of the body. The tee is made from soft 100% cotton and is machine washable. This is a STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) approved toy. There is a demo for the app to try before you buy. $29.95. Ages 6 – 12.
note: One review I read said that sometimes the camera doesn’t pick up what it’s aimed at. The advice is to move closer to the object, try different angles and agree to camera permissions.
The 3Doodler is a 3D pen through which eco-plastic is fed, melted and sent out the nozzle of the pen to form shapes on paper or any flat surface. Once the melted plastic leaves the pen it will solidify within few seconds creating a firm pick-up-able form. The pens are used by children and adults to create art projects and to just have fun. This ‘Start’ kit if appropriate for ages 6 and older. There are no hot parts to worry about, it is safe for kids to touch any part of the pen. This is a STEM toy. $44.99.
This is another STEM approved toy. Kamigami robots teach kids about robotics engineering in a fun way. The programming interface is easy to use and teaches kids coding logic and allows for independent designs. Kids can teach the robots new tricks and games. No prior building or programming skills are needed to jump right in and play. This Musubi robot kit is $27.81. Ages 8 – 12.
LED Poi is a form of illuminated spinning performance art, and Spin Balls LED Poi are a fun version. They can be enjoyed by all ages. The set contains two balls with strong cords, eight light modes and lots of color. Learning the spinning technique teaches mental and physical coordination, and creating beautiful shows is fun. One pair is $24.99. Appropriate for ages 6 and up.
To The Ocean Deep is a 15’ long fold-out coloring book appropriate for ages 4 – 8 years old. There is also To The Moon and To the Ends of the Earth and Back Again. The design for the To The Ocean Deep reaches from a ship on the ocean surface down to the ocean floor. The ocean background is pre-colored in a light to dark deep green that gets darker as the ocean gets deeper. The design to be colored has white background with black lines. A tip I read in one review recommended water-based markers not alcohol-based markers as those seeped through the paper. $9.54.
Mobi is a simple way to introduce children aged 4 and up to numbers. The goal of the game is to make simple math equations as quickly as possible, connected like crossword grids. The winner is the first to connect all their tiles. $16.99.
Beasts of Balance Digital Tabletop Stacking Game is a game that’s fun for the whole family. The game teaches strategy and dexterity as players stack magical Artefacts into a spectacular tower – while the game wirelessly connects to a smartphone, tablet, Fire or Apple TV. Each stacked beast changes the world they exist in. If an octopus is stacked it appears on the screen as a digital octopus. If a Migrate Artefact is stacked next, the world becomes land-dwelling and the digital octopus becomes a digital Rocktopus. The world and animals within it stay alive as long as the tower doesn’t fall. Challenging and appropriate for ages 6 and up. $99.99.
This is a flexible piano that can be rolled up when playing is finished. It travels well, even outdoors. It can be powered either with batteries or a USB cord. It comes with a play-by-color song booklet, demo songs, multiple keyboard tones, record and playback, echo/sustain, built-in speaker with volume control and audio output. It is appropriate for ages 6 and up. $59.95.
Pebbles are a sculpted sustainable update of the timeless tangram puzzle. A tangram puzzle consists of seven flat tiles that are put together to form thousands of shapes. It is a Chinese puzzle that reached the Western world in the early 1800s. Move the pieces to solve the puzzle or create your own puzzle. Appropriate for ages 6 and up. Adults love it as much as kids do. $39.95.
Coco Color Doodle is a stylus with 768 stroke, color, style and size combinations and works with iOS and Android devices. Choose a pencil, pen, paste, or paint symbol to adapt strokes. There are two free apps that work with the Coco Color Stylus – the Coco Color Voyages app with amazing scenes to color and explore and the Doodle app with more relaxed, freehand drawing. The user chooses a canvas, then chooses a stroke style, size and color with a click. Glide the single coloring stylus over the surface of any device and get beautiful results. Appropriate for ages 12 and up. $34.99
Rory’s Story Cube Complete Set promises hours of fun. There are unlimited story possibilities. Good for all ages from 8 years old and up. $21.99 for the three games.
This blue Lil’ Gleemerz Doll is one of Amazon’s Top 100 Toys for 2018. The doll is interactive. It will light up, make cool sounds, play games, respond to touch and sound with over 100 reactions like purring, growling and saying funny phrases. Press the nose for three different ways to play – hangout mode, light party mode or game mode. $14.88. Ages 5 – 9.
Put together a delicious s’mores kit from the Hudson Valley Marshmallow Company. Try their chocolate, chocolate chip or cinnamon sugar graham crackers paired with their caramel, vanilla, chocolate, gingerbread, strawberry, peppermint flavored marshmallows. And, don’t forget the hot chocolate mix! A sample bag of four marshmallow flavors is $5.00. A three-bag holiday gift basket is $20.00. Appropriate for all ages!
Fingerlings are back! This adorable baby monkey Fingerling will respond to sound, motion and touch with blinking eyes, head turns and silly babble. Blow it a kiss and it will blow back. There are lots to collect! Ages 5 – 15. $9.99.
The Atlas Obscura Explorer’s Guide for the World’s Most Adventurous Kid is a book for curious children. It is an expedition to 100 magical and unbelievable real life places in the world. They’ll learn about the Waitomo Glowworm Caves in New Zealand, South Africa’s Boulders Penguin Colony and Ethiopia’s Lava Lakes. This will create wonder about the world they inhabit. Ages 8 – 12. $13.49.