The holidays are almost here! Searching for the perfect present? These last minute gifts for kids will excite and delight this holiday season.
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Kiwi Crate (and other Crates)
I’m all for gifts that get kids thinking … and doing. And that’s what Kiwi Crate (ages 5-8), and it’s sister crates (Koala Crate for Preschoolers, Doodle Crate for those age 9-16 and Tinker Crate for those age 9-16) do. Each box comes with supplies for a STEAM project (that’s Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) that challenges kids and teaches them something about building creating or designing.
When my daughter first opened the Kiwi Crate we received to check it out, I wasn’t sure we’d like it. An activity book, a bunch of parts and some directions were in there. But my daughter completely changed my mind. She devoured the activity book, eagerly completing every page, and then took the lead on not only doing the included crafts, but the extension activity that turned the box the kit came in into part of the fun. All in all, this kept her busy over the course of a week as she did different elements of the package.
And, later, she used what she learned to think of ways she can apply what she learned creating the crafts to new projects. I really consider this a gift that gives beyond its initial giving. And it’s fun too — like crafting with a purpose.
Cost: $19.95 per month, but there are discounts for paying for longer subscriptions and look for sale codes.
For kids who like to build and create, Magformers sets are a great option — and often available locally at stores that stock kids stuff. These magnetized building pieces topped my daughter’s wish list last Christmas, and Santa delivered. But what I didn’t expect was how much we’d all come to love this creative set — or how much we’d all enjoy creating different shapes, buildings and more. There’s directions to get you started but my son, daughter and I have found a lot of joy in just winging our designs.
Cost: Sets start at $24.99
It would take forever to thoroughly describe all the games my kids love playing. These are a few recent favorites that entertain us all:
- Dr. Eureka – Players have to — with one hand — match the color order of a series of balls in three test tubes to win each round. It’s a game of dexterity, skill and matching.
- Sushi Go! – This card game teaches strategy, critical thinking and more. It’s also a lot of fun. Plus, the rounds go super fast.
- Forbidden Island – Another game of strategy, this one is a cooperative game … so everyone needs to work together to win.
- Karma – You never know quite what will happen — or who will win — this fun card game. One of the things I love about it is that play continues until there’s only one person standing.
- Thumbs Up – This might be my favorite game ever. Players have to match the order of rings on their thumb (and be the first to do so) to win. You have to be fast, to think on your feet and to develop a strategy for the matching to win. (Full disclosure: I am very good at this game, so my kids will only play a few rounds with me before they play on their own.)
Books are always a great gift, and support the importance of reading for kids of all ages. In addition to classics, there are some wonderful new books that came out this year that are totally worth attention. Head to your local bookstore (we love our local indie kids bookstore!) and ask for recommendations. And you could also look for a few of our favorites… Here are a few we loved for reading aloud together (my kids are 9 and 11):
- Maxi’s Secrets (Or What You Can Learn From a Dog) by Lynn Plourde
- Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
- Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
- Pax by Sara Pennypacker
A few more good ideas for readers in the 8-12 range:
- Time Stoppers by Carrie Jones
- Fairy Houses All Year by Liza Gardner Walsh (activity book)
- Beneath by Roland Smith (part of a series)
- The Forest Feast for Kids by Erin Gleeson (Cookbook)
- The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer (book series)
- All books by Rick Riordan
- Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. She is the author of several cookbooks including The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook and One-Pot Pasta, both from Rockridge Press. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.