This past year has been oddly wonderful for children with outsized imaginations and creativity. Less structure and outside activity have given children time to draw, sing, dance and ‘make believe’ at home. Here are some holiday gift ideas to keep those dreams, art projects and performances coming.
My three-year-old grandson loves these. These are audiobooks for kids without the connection to the internet. Yoto puts kids in control of the stories they hear. A child inserts a physical card into the Yoto box and presses ‘Play’. No screen, no camera, no microphone. No ads. If they want to listen to the stories away from home, there is a digital option. You can download the Yoto app and they can listen to the stories you’ve bought on digital devices like phone and tablets. In addition to a library of audiobooks, there are cards for lullabies, soothing sleep sounds, music, podcasts, and sound effects.
Yoto Player $99.99
Yoto starter pack of seven cards including:
My First 100 Words – A fun intro to common words in English, French, Spanish, German and Italian with accompanying images.
Crackling Fire – Turn your Yoto player into a crackling fire with evocative sounds!
Story Shed Podcast – Yoto’s own Jake Harris, a primary school teacher, creates this gem of a podcast which updates regularly.
Robin Hood: A Musical Adventure – A modern take on a childhood classic! Filled to the brim with music and adventure.
Hotel Flamingo – This sunny, funny audio story is an animal-lover’s dream. Imagine the Grand Budapest Hotel run by the cast of a Dick King-Smith novel and you’re halfway there!
Songs from the Playground – The world is a playground, and music is the key. There’s endless fun for everyone with these fresh takes on schoolyard classics!
Make Your Own – Unleash your creativity with a blank Yoto card that can be linked to (almost) anything!
The Magic Treehouse series, eight stories, 5 hours and 42 minutes of listening. Read by the author, Mary Pope Osborne
Natalie Portman’s Fables. Fifteen minutes. $5.99
The Henry Huggins Collection, remember Henry and Beezus? 15 hours and 25 minutes of listening. $49.99
The Witches by Roald Dahl, 4 hours and 28 minutes. $11.99
The Extraordinary Lives Collection, uplifting biographies of amazing people. Ages 5 to 12+.
This collection includes:
The Extraordinary Life of Rosa Parks
The Extraordinary Life of Katherine Johnson
The Extraordinary Life of Michelle Obama
The Extraordinary Life of Mary Seacole
The Extraordinary Life of Serena Williams
The Extraordinary Life of Nelson Mandela
The Ramona Quimby Collection, beloved stories by Beverly Cleary. 18 hours and 56 minutes. Ages 5-12+. $64.99
The Narwhal and the Jelly Collection. Ages 5 to 12+. $19.99
Disney Christopher Robin, a junior novel. Ages 5 to 12+. 5 hours and 25 minutes. $11.99
Disney Aladdin. Ages 5 to 12+. 5 hours and 16 minutes. $11.99
This Roll-Up Piano is a flexible keyboard on which children can learn to make music by following a play-by-color songbook (included with Rainbow version only). For ages 6+.” $60
Imaginative wizards and princesses need wands when they want to be heroes.
Decorate your own Princess wand kit. $8.79
Harry Potter Illuminating Wands, 14”. $35 each.
Lego creations brought to life on the screen by your child? It is not a dream.
LEGO VIDIYO is a video maker for kids which combines LEGO bricks and augmented reality to produce endless creations. Kids don’t need to ‘consume’ content on the screen, they create it. LEGO offers stage set kits from the elaborate Punk Pirate Ship and The Boom Box to simple Beat Boxes. Download the free app onto a device (a phone or a pad). Kids build their stage and characters in the real world with LEGOS and props from these special sets. They add music (thanks to a LEGO partnership with Universal Music Group) and direct and star in their own videos. kids can collect “BeatBits,” or pieces that look like vinyl LPs, but create different effects within the video. One BeatBit might create a slow-mo effect, for example, while another will turn all the characters into pandas. Kids can share their creations, (with no identifiable personal information), through the App. Punk Pirate Ship. Suggested for ages 8 and up. $79.99
LEGO VIDIYO Folk Fairy Beatbox building kit toy is a smaller version of the music video creator. Inspire kids to direct and star in their own music videos. Beat Boxes use the free LEGO app to connect the box to a screen and are 4.72 x 4.72 x 4.72 inches. The stage folds into a box which holds the LEGO pieces neatly. Kids can use other LEGOS to jazz up their scenes. New in 2021, the set has 89 pieces. Suggested for ages 7 and up. $15.99
Candy Mermaid Beatbox. $14.87
Candy Unicorn DJ Beat Box. $13.99
New this year, this toy cassette player is part of a series of ‘retro-inspired’ toys.
Laugh & Learn Puppy’s Mix Tape from Fisher Price is like an old-school cassette player and it lights up. Small children can press the play button and take out the cassette. It teaches the alphabet, counting 1 to 10, colors, shapes, and greetings. Ages 6 months and up. $7.99
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Busy Boombox for children 6 to 36 months.
- Retro-inspired, light-up pretend portable stereo toy for infants and toddlers ages 6-36 months
- Fun busy activities including speaker spinner, open/close cassette deck, slider, toggle switch, roller, clicker and more
- Slide the station tuner, press the buttons or open/close the cassette deck for lights, songs, sounds and phrases
- Smart Stages learning levels teach letters of the alphabet, counting in English and Spanish, colors, shapes, and opposites
- Kickstand for sit-at play and convenient take-along handle
Boom Box, 13 Inches (H) x 3.4 Inches (W) x 12.5 Inches (D). $19.99
Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Lil’ Gamer, Educational Musical Activity Toy for Baby and Toddlers Ages 6-36 Months. $7.99
For all of you who love American Girl dolls, this is the 35th Anniversary and the original characters are back. Thirty-fifth Anniversary. It is hard to believe that these girls, their stories and the books about the periods in which they lived, have fueled imaginations for three and a half decades.
Kira is the 2021 American Girl Doll of the Year. She cares for her aunt’s animals in a wildlife park in Australia – koala’s, wombats and kangaroos – what fun. Readers learn about conservation from Kira and like so many of the American Girl dolls, she faces challenges and learns to take responsibility. All things Kira.
Gund and Sesame Street have collaborated on these plush ‘essential worker’ stuffed animals.
It is an era for heroes and Fisher Price has given us a Forest Firefighter hero this year. $16.34
Face Paintoos – Party Pack for 20. Ages 4+. Who does your child want to be today? $19.99
This Crayola Light Up Activity Board is new this year and it joins Crayola Activity Boards which kids have loved for years. Ages 3+. Requires three AAA batteries. $29.99
Peacock Colors Toy. “Designed to teach young children about colors and color mixing, this Peacock Colors Toy features a fan of five acrylic color panels (peacock tail feathers) that can be opened and closed. $25.
Crayola Steam Paper Flower Kit. Ages 7+. $22.49
Crayola Steam Paper Butterflies Science Kit. $29.99