Holiday Gift Guide 2015

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year! That being said, it can also be one of the most stressful. It’s the time of year when you have so many gifts to purchase, and the pressure is really on. You want to make so many dreams come true; dreams that have been building up for over 300 days. Are you sweating yet? Don’t worry! We are here to put your mind at ease because what you are about to read is our fool-proof gift-giving guide!

As educators, we are privy to the inner workings of children’s minds. We have harnessed that knowledge into the ultimate present-finding power. Elementary-aged children often fall into certain categories based on similar needs, desires, and idiosyncrasies. One can simply align those qualities to the latest and greatest toys available this year. Read this guide to find out more about these categories (like The Inventor, The Fan, etc.), decide which most closely represents your child, and presto…you will be the coolest and most tech savvy gift giver, making all of those long-awaited dreams come true!

“The Beginner”
This child is interested in everything! He is young and curious, and totally open to new things. An empty cardboard box would probably thrill this child and let his imagination soar, but I think we can do even better than that. Try:

The Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks: These blocks come in a variety of shapes and colors and are great for early development of fine motor skills.

The Learning Journey Match It :  This is a fun way to improve spelling skills, as it requires kids to break apart and put together words and pictures. For example, a picture of a cake is separated into parts each with the letters c/a/k/e respectively. There are tons of colorful illustrations and 20 puzzle sets.

Fisher Price Bright Beats Dance and Move BeatBo:  This cute hybrid of a robot and bunny gets kids moving! He has songs programmed that teach rhythm and dance moves. There is also a feature where kids or parents can record phrases, and BeatBo will remix it into his favorite song.

Little Live Pets Clever Keet:  This electronic pet is smarter than he looks! Once you give him a name, he remembers it forever. He knows how to talk and can answer​ ​kid-created questions. When you play with him and talk to him, he will start to learn funny new things to say.

Magnoformers Magenetic Building Construction Set:  This is the most addictive building set ever made. The pieces connect together through magnets, so you don’t have to worry about things falling apart as you build. Kids can make 3D designs that are way more complex than anything they could build with regular blocks!

“The Zombie”
You know the signs. The blank stare. The inability to hear even the loudest instructions. This child is locked into a device. Whether it be an iPad, iPod, video game, or TV show, once that screen starts glowing, the child might as well be on a different planet. Bring that child down to Earth with some games that will allow him or her to use a Smart Device but that require the movement of something other than a pointer finger.

Osmo:  Osmo creates amazing smart tablet apps that are interactive and educational.  When you purchase the Osmo starter kit, you get a base stand, mirror unit, and Words and Tangram puzzle sets. These tools all work with the free game apps which are focused on spelling, drawing, math and science. Surveys have found that kids prefer these games to less educational ones, which is great because their brains are working at full power when they play!

“The Paparazzo”
You feel like a movie star around this child who loves to take pictures. He captures all of your best (and most embarrassing) family moments, dinners, outfits, along with animals seen on the street, really anything. Encourage his artistic expression with a camera that’s even better than the one attached to a smart device.

Polaroid Cube:  This is a crazy cool looking new version of the Polaroid camera. It captures hi-def video and photos with a wide-angle lens. It has built in Wi-Fi so you can sync up your photos immediately to a smartphone or tablet. This can be matched up with the Polaroid Zip, which is a wireless color printer. You can even print your photos with a peel-off sticky back!

“The Fan”
This child has Star Wars bed sheets, Star Wars shirts, a Star Wars toothbrush, Star Wars socks, Star Wars legos, Star Wars soap, Star Wars cereal, and maybe even a few Star Wars movies. He is the ultimate fan, so all he really wants as a gift is, you guessed it, Star Wars stuff! (Also applies to fans of other obsession-inducing franchises.)

 

BB-8 by Sphero:  Sphero has made other robotic balls, but this one is based on the new BB-8 character from the upcoming Star Wars movie. You can control this robot through a smartphone or with voice commands.

Lego Star Wars Darth Vader Building Kit:  This is a must for the Star Wars and Lego fan in your life. The Darth Vader kids can build looks totally different as it is not made from the traditional Lego bricks. This will be a distinctive addition to any Lego collection.

Star Wars Furbacca Furby:  This cute interactive toy reacts to motion and touch. You can extend the play when you use it in conjunction with the Furbacca app. The Furby can create adventures and scenes from the Star Wars Universe.

Disney Frozen Karaoke:  Do you want to build a snowman? If this line is all too familiar to you, then I’m pretty sure you have someone at home that would love this pre-loaded Frozen-themed karaoke machine. You can use it as a portable toy or plug it into the TV for the ultimate singing experience.

Barbie Collector 2015 Holiday Doll:  This Barbie doll is decked out in a red ball gown, and comes in a special winter wonderland box. She is a collector’s edition, but that doesn’t mean she has to just sit on a shelf! Barbie can inspire lots of creative play and hours of fun.

Lego Scooby Doo Build Your Own Mystery Machine:  Lego sets are such a great gift because kids need to put in the work to put together complicated creations and feel proud when they see the results of their hard work. This set is a replica of Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine, Fans of Scooby Doo will love building it.

“The Inventor”
This child loves to work with her hands. She will take apart your remote control just to see what it looks like inside and then miraculously put it back together (and now you get a few free channels). This child is very into STEM, robots, building, baking, and creating. These new gadgets will definitely scratch her itch!

The Electro Snap Currents Jr.:  This set will guide kids to create real working circuits. These can lead to over 100 different projects with all the bells and whistles (and sirens)!

Meccano Meccanoid:  Meccano is a build-your-own robot that can be programmed and controlled by an app. The robot can employ motion capture, tell jokes, and play games; it has over 1,000 pre-programmed phrases.

My First Lab Who Dunnit? Forensic Microscope Kit:  This lab is a mini-forensic kit with a high-quality microscope which has a range of 40x to 400x. It will definitely inspire (or magnify) a love of science, inquiry, and investigation!

Dash and Dot (featured in STEM class):  Our students are very familiar with this blue robot duo! They are designed to guide kids through the world of coding and robotics. While working with the robots on a smart device, children can solve puzzles, connect to LEGO, make them play the xylophone, and even launch some projectiles.

“The Hog”
You used to have a smartphone (you know you pay the bill), but then this child realized how cool it was and never let you have it back. You are not going to win this battle, so you might as well get him or her some of these amazing tech gifts that work perfectly with an Android or iOS powered device.

Mattel Viewmaster VR:  Remember the old red viewmaster, where you put in a little colored disc and then watched the pictures get big and bright before your eyes? Well, this is that for the digital age. No longer do kids need to mess​ ​around with those discs; instead they put a smartphone inside the viewmaster to interact with different virtual reality experiences.

I-Que Intelligent Robot:  This robot connects to the internet (by way of your smartphone). I-Que can recognize your voice and acts like a walking Google by searching the internet to answer your questions. This robot, as opposed to others, has a pleasing synthesized voice.

Wow Wee MiPosaur:  A dinosaur and a robot? What more could a kid ask for? This MiPosaur is talented. It can balance on its own, follow a ball, respond to gesture controls, and play games. The best part is that you can actually use this robot with or without your smartphone!

“The Beggar”

On the opposite end of the spectrum to the Hog is this child. All she wants is her own device! She is absolutely done with sharing. Here are some kid-friendly, and budget friendly, versions of some favorite smart devices that you will feel ok with letting her use all by herself.

LeapFrog Epic:  This is a tablet you won’t feel worried about leaving your child alone with. It has a kid-tough design and a 7-inch screen powered by an Android operating system, all of which means Epic will keep your child entertained but will not get broken in the process. You can download some popular apps in addition to the LeapFrog educational apps already on the device.

Amazon Fire Tablet:  This tablet is a great choice for children who want to use a smart device not only for fun, but also for homework, research, and social networking. The Fire tablet has a great battery life and the option to add additional storage.

VTech Kidizoo Smart Watch DX:  Basically this VTech Smart Watch is the kid-version of the Apple Watch … what could be better? The watch can be used as a camera as well as for playing games. It is water-resistant (not waterproof), so it should work in spite of the sweat that comes from completing its “action challenges” or minor splashes of water.

Still not sure what to get? We did a survey of Point Road’s 3rd and 4th graders. Here are their top 5 most requested technology and non-technology based gifts:

Technology Gifts

  1. Chromebook/computer
  2. iPad/iPhone
  3. Dash and Dot (on our list!)
  4. Any kind of Robot (many options on our list!)
  5. 3-D printer

Non-Technology Gifts

  1. Sports equipment
  2. Lego sets (many options on our list!)
  3. Poor Cat jewelry
  4.  Shopkins
  5. and of course….A Puppy!

Already done with your holiday shopping and now kicking yourself that this post didn’t come out sooner? No need to worry! These awesome items make great gifts all year long! Birthdays, other holidays, Tuesdays…anytime is the right time to show your child how special they really are! Happy shopping!

Samantha Strauss – First Grade Teacher, Point Road School

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