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Read our Latest Guide Here:
"2014 Gift Guide"


Homeschool.com's 2012 Gift Guide: Top Educational Gifts


The following have been selected as Homeschool.com's Top Educational Gifts for 2012. They have been chosen by Homeschool.com staff, and new this year--by our many Homeschool.com
Product Testers. Thank you everyone for all of your input! When recommendations came with an explanation, we included the explanation as well--as we realize, the more information you have, the better! Also new this year--a number of companies offered Homeschool.com readers discounts, and we've included a few Mom and Dad gifts--because we like gifts too!

We've organized the toys by age group. But as you can imagine, sometimes gifts don't fall neatly into one category. A toy for 6-9 year olds, might be in the 3-8 year old category--but not in the 8-12 category--as we didn't want to duplicate our listings. So, depending on the ages of your children, you might want to look at the toys below and above your kids' age ranges, as well as the ones that are a perfect fit. But what fun that will be!

Many of the toys this year are green and come from companies that boast eco-friendly practices and/or are from companies that donate a percentage of sales to charities. We appreciate that.

All the toys can be found on the Internet, in boutique stores, and in large chain stores--and almost all have a link for purchase--which makes your shopping easier. They include wood toys, plastic toys, cloth dolls, electronics, green toys, toys that promote physical activity, and a few toys your parents and grandparents might have played with.

As you can see, we've included something for everyone! And best of all, most of these products can be used in your everyday homeschooling.

Educational...age appropriate...and fun -- our Top Educational Gifts for 2012!
 

Ages 0-3   Ages 3-8   Ages 8-12   Teens   Moms & Dads   All Ages

Ages 0-3

Baby Whoozit
By Manhattan Toy, Ages 0 and Up, Approx. $15

This multicolor toy keeps your baby happy and stimulated while developing hand-eye coordination.

Baby Whoozit is small enough to tuck easily into a purse or coat pocket. This little Whoozit toy includes a fabric loop with Velcro-like adhesive for easy attachment to most strollers, car seats and cribs.

You can see a video of the product here.

Winkel
By Manhattan Toy, Ages 0 and Up, Approx. $14

This toy features colorful loops made from soft, pliable plastic that are easy to grasp and hold.  Visually stimulating (it's a very cute toy) - it can be refrigerated to become a chilled soothing teether.

Blue Manatee Boxes
Ages 0-3 Years, Approx. $30-$80

Unique gift boxes for babies and young children featuring books and materials that promote reading, creative play, and parent-child engagement, in a fun, sustainable, and developmentally-sound manner. Choose from among eight themed boxes, or build your own. A lovely present for any time of the year.

A video of the product can be seen here.

For Homeschool.com readers--Blue Manatee is offering 10% off any themed box through 2/1/13 with the usual free ground shipping.  Just use discount code "Homeschool" at checkout.  

The Original Ba
By The Original Baby, Ages 3 Months and Up, Approx. $ 15

A toy and a bottle holder all in one!

Simple design and easy to use--perfect for baby's little hands. In fact, it's designed to encourage hand-eye coordination. The sphere design allows baby to bring the bottle to his mouth and hold it there, without any help from Mom or Dad. These developmental baby-steps of grasping and feeding encourage problem solving and brain development.

Made of FDA approved food-grade silicone, plus Phthalate, Lead and PVC free--and 100% dishwasher safe.

A video of the product can be seen here.

Soft & Safe Community Helpers
By Lakeshore, 6 months and Up, Approx. $30

Introduce little ones to important people in their community--with these soft & safe play figures. The extra-chubby figures are made of super-squeezable plastic that's easy to grab & hold.

Wood Stacking Rings Toy
Sold at Bella Luna Toys, Ages 6 Months and Up, Approx. $35

Not just a toy--but a work of art! This beautiful wood stacking toy is an heirloom-quality stacking set made of contrasting hardwood rings of graduated sizes, with a non-toxic beeswax finish to enhance the natural beauty of the wood.

This toy helps little ones with their hand eye coordination and dexterity.

My First Farm Friends: Books in a Barn
Written by Betsy Wallin, Sold at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Ages 6 Months and Up, Special Magers & Quinn price--Approx. $10

This set of four illustrated board books is packaged in a gift box that doubles as a play barn after the books are unpacked. Each book depicts the story of daily life with one of four farm animals -- chicken, goat, cow, and pig -- and features a stand-up figure of each animal. The stand-up animals let the action come to life as kids place the four animals in the play barn.

The books celebrate and teach about the activities on the farm while introducing basic vocabulary words.

Plus, Magers and Quinn offers a 10% discount to homeschoolers.

Earthworms
By Begin Again Toys, Ages 6 Months and Up, Approx. $17

Encourage baby's grasping skills with this eco-adorable wooden toy. Babies delight in twisting and manipulating the contrasting painted and natural wooden beads that are securely threaded onto a thick elastic band.

Made of plantation grown rubberwood, an earth friendly hardwood, and painted with child safe paint, this worm will stimulate and entertain for hours. The toy comes in a variety of colors.

Bath Organizer and Friendly Links Toys
By BKids, Ages 6 Months and Up, Approx. $ 9-$30

For making bath time, fun time! And the bath organizer makes clean up a cinch.

The numbered stackable ducks link together in the tub for floating fun, each is numbered to develop counting skills, and the bright colors help hold attention.

For a video of the bath organizer, click here.

Noah's Ark Foam Tub Toys from WeeBelievers.com are also very cute--sea turtles, dolphins, penguins and more. The picture doesn't do them justice.

Drying and storage is a breeze with the included suction cup mesh bag.

Approx. cost--$15.

Sit, Crawl and Stand Band Activity Arch
By Playskool, Ages 6 Months-36 Months, Approx. $ 90

This rockin' toy features more than 45 tunes, sounds and activities.

See baby learn how different activities add instruments and sound effects to the music. With three stages of play, your little one will find endless opportunities for fun and learning.

A video of the product can be seen here.

Requires three AA batteries--demo batteries are included.

Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case for iPhone & iPod devices
By Fisher-Price, Ages 6 Months-36 Months, Approx. $15

This sturdy case will protect your iPhone or iPod touch from dribbles, drool, and unwanted call-making. Busy beads and a mirror add baby-appropriate play. And free Laugh & Learn™ apps mean plenty of learning fun!

Fun Fisher-Price learning apps--just right for baby! Download from the App Store--no purchase needed.

Durable case is compatible with: iPhone®, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPod touch® 2nd, 3rd & 4th generation.

A video of the product can be seen here.

Mozart Magic Cube
By Munchkin, Ages 6 Months-4Years, Approx. $23

Fun with music--inspires creativity and interactive play, and lights flash to the tempo..

Soft, rounded corners so it's easy and safe for baby to hold.

A video of the product can be seen here.

3 AAA batteries are required and are included.

Lil' Zoomers Chase 'n Race Ramps
By Fischer-Price, Ages 6 Months-6 Years, Approx. $18

Fun, colorful and three toys in one!!

Baby places a car on top, and it zooms down the zig-zag ramps, back and forth to the bottom where music and fun sounds greet each vehicle. Comes with two easy-to-hold cars and the gate closes for easy storage.

This toy enhances learning through discovery: it encourages baby to try different actions to make things happen--it also encourages problem-solving.

Stimulates the senses: 1) colorful graphics and zig-zag, rolling action offers visual stimulation, 2) lively music and fun sounds enhance auditory skills.

Encourages the development of motor skills: 1) enhances fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination as baby grasps and places cars or spins the gas pump, 2) fosters gross motor skills when baby crawls after cars when they roll off the ramp.

A video of the product can be seen here.

Requires 2 AA batteries--two are included.

Homeschool.com reader Maggie writes, "It's so cute--I stopped dead in my tracks when I walked past it in the store."

Soft Dolls
By North American Bear, Sold at HunkyDoryOnline.com, Ages Baby and Up, Approx. $25

These are such cute babies! They are the perfect size (15 ") for little ones to hug. They come in baby dolls, little boy and little girl dolls, and in different ethnicities.

These dolls encourage creative and loving play!

4-in-1 Dream Trike
By Smart-Trike, Ages 10 Months-3 Years, Approx. $130

The world's top-selling brand of adaptable tricycles--and they encourage your child's motor skill development! That's because the trikes grow with your child through four different life stages:
  • Stroller trike (10 months) - Parent controlled with Touch-Steering and handle bar clutch that neutralizes the child handlebar.  Child has a backpad and footrest.
  • Guided trike (18 months) - Parent guided with Touch-Steering.  Child sits up independently and uses footrest.
  • Training trike (24 months) - Child footrest is folded in and pedals are folded out but are neutralized.  Parent can still guide overall, but handlebar clutch is pushed in, and the child can start to master the pedal and steering movements.
  • Classic trike (30 -36 months) - Child controlled as parent handle is removed and the clutch is pushed in.  Toddler can ride around independently.

There are many colors, as well as other Smart-Trike products to choose from.

A video of the product can be seen here.

Recycling Truck
By Green Toys, Ages 1 and Up, Approx. $18

Sort bottles, cans, and paper or just have a blast! Your eco- conscious little one will learn recycling basics while playing with this truck--encourages recycling at an early age.

Tough and durable, this recycling truck is made from 100% recycled milk jugs.

A video of the product can be seen here.

Tickle Monster Laughter Kit
Written by Josie Bissett, Published by Compendium, Inc., Sold at Live-Inspired.com, Ages 1 and Up, Approx. $35

What do little ones love more than just about anything? Being Tickled! And that's what the Tickle Monster Laughter Kit is all about.

The Tickle Monster book is about a loveable monster with big puffy mitts that has just flown in from Planet Tickle. His mission is to bring joy and laughter to Planet Earth. How? By tickling any child who happens to follow along with this book. Parents read aloud and do the tickling while their children squirm and giggle with delight. Finger holes in the mitts make it easy to turn pages and tickle, too. The result is joy, laughter and lifetime memories for your child.

A video of the product can be seen here. Note the packaging--it's beautiful.

If you find this set interesting--and why wouldn't you--the author also has a Boogie Monster Dance Kit that is also, very cute.

Homeschool.com reader Chanel states,"This is by far one of the cutest toys I have EVER seen!"

BuckleyBoo
Ages 15 Months-4 Years, Approx. $20-$30

Each BuckleyBoo teaches babies and toddlers visual matching, small motor coordination and problem solving as they match brightly patterned ribbons and configure different types of plastic buckles. Twelve inch and 17" toys available. Little ones love the clicky noise the buckles make.

For a fun read on how this toy came about, click here.

A video of the product can be seen here.

Gene, a Homeschool.com reader and homeschooling Dad recommends this toy.

Kid Connection Car Transporter
Walmart Store Brand, Ages 18 Months and Up, Approx. $20

Five toys in one and they all promote manual dexterity!!

As of the writing of this Guide, Homeschool.com staffers could not find this toy on the Walmart website--but we did see it in their stores.

Homeschool.com reader Lizzie writes, "This is one of my boy's favorite toys."

 

Sock Monkey Jack in the Box
By Schylling, Ages 18 Months and Up, Approx. $23

Because really, who doesn't love a Sock Monkey? And of course, it plays "Pop Goes the Weasel". This toy promotes manual dexterity and the understanding of cause and effect.

If your child likes Sock Monkeys, there is an entire industry devoted to Sock Monkey toys, books, clothes and more.

A Little Books Boxed Set Featuring Little Pea, Little Hoot, Little Oink

Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Sold at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Ages 18 Months and Up, Special Magers & Quinn Price, Approx. $14

Three adorable characters in three adorable board books! These clever twists on dinnertime, bedtime, and clean-up time will delight all the little mess-makers, picky eaters, and night owls in your life.

Plus, Magers and Quinn offers a 10% discount to homeschoolers.

Pushbike
By Kinderfeets, Ages 2 and Up, Approx. $109

This is a high quality handmade wooden pushbike with footpegs -- great for little ones and for older kids getting ready to ride a two wheeled bike.

Eco-friendly chalk-board finish paint--available in six different colors as well as natural.

A video of the product can be seen here.

Kinderfeets is offering Homeschool readers a $20 discount - just enter 'homeschool' as the discount code when you check out of the web-store at www.kinderfeets.com. The discount is available until 1/15/2013.

Berenguer Boutique Baby
By JC Toys, Ages 2 and Up, Prices Vary

Many vinyl, soft body and interactive dolls to choose from--dolls of various sizes, various ethnicities, and anatomically correct girl and boy dolls are available.

Designed to support imagination and creativity.

Count-With-Me Talking Cookie Jar
Sold at Lakeshore, Ages 2-5, Approx. $25

Kids drop colorful cookies into this cute, talking jar...as a friendly voice counts them out loud! Or, kids can switch to quiz mode, and find each numbered cookie on their own.

Ten plastic cookies represent a different number from 1-10, with fun-to-count chips on top, and the matching number on the bottom.

Requires 2 AA batteries, which are not included.

Washable Dress-Up Masks
By Lakeshore, Ages 2-5, Approx. $30

Kids go wild for these adorable animal masks.

Each soft, plush mask features a padded design that's extra-comfy to wear...plus a fabric-covered elastic band lets children slip them on and off in a flash. The eight masks are fully machine-washable for easy care.

And of course, they encourage creative play!

iBounce Kids Trampoline and Hop-A-Long with Rompidy Roo
By Jumpsport, Ages 2-5 Years, Approx. $129 (Sale price $99.95 see below)

Included in the bundle:

  • JumpSport iBounce™ Kids Trampoline
  • JumpSport iBounce™ Tablet Mount
  • Hop-A-Long with RompidyRoo™ DVD

The JumpSport Kid's trampoline is a fun and engaging way for toddlers to exercise. Their personal-sized trampoline will provide them with years of safe and energetic bouncing.

A video of the product can be seen here.

This product will have the sale price of $99.95, starting Nov. 22, and this price will run through the holidays. Just check out their site at www.jumpsport.com.

Ages 3-8

Just Dance Kids
By UBI Soft , For Nintendo Wii, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $20

Over 40 crazy fun dances created by real choreographers and led by real kids. Younger kids will love dancing to their favorite TV shows, including The Wiggles and Yo Gabba Gabba. Dance Party Mode lets kids continuously play through all the dance songs without stopping.

Progression tracking allows parents to log calories burnt, time played, as well as a playlist of their child's favorite songs.

Recommended by Homeschool.com parent Darien.

Wikki Stix
Ages 3 and Up, Under $10

Wikki Stix appeal equally to boys and girls, and span a wide range of ages, from 3 to 103! They are perfect for quiet, independent play, or interaction with others. They help enhance learning through hands-on kinesthetic involvement.

Educational information regarding the product can be found here.

A video of this product can be seen here.

Homeschool.com reader Julie writes, "Wikki Stix -- we all love these!"

Playground Ball Set
Sold at Lakeshore, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $75

All-purpose balls--perfect for dodgeball, four square and more...they come in a variety of sizes to suit every child--and every activity. The rugged balls have rubber sidewalls that resist punctures, a stippled finish for easy handling and valves for quick inflating. Ten balls include a 13" ball, a 10" ball, six 8 1/2" balls and two 6" balls--all in a storage net.

Good old fashioned fun whether kids play individually, or enjoy the social interactions of a group.

PLAY DOH Animal Duffel Bag
By Hasbro, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $10

Bring the animals of your imagination into reality with the Play-Doh Animal Duffel Bag set. Make a giraffe, a monkey, a dolphin or other animal shapes in green, purple, orange or yellow or a combination of all four!

The Play-Doh Animal Duffel Bag set includes a roller, scissors, 8 animal-shaped cutters, a sprinkle press and 4 three-ounce cans of PLAY-DOH modeling compound.

Recommended by Homeschool.com reader, Derian.

The Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Candy Cyclone Playset (Approx. $22) is also great fun.

A video of the product can be seen here.

Wooden Vehicles
By Soopsori, Sold at ColetteKids.com, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $13

Eco-friendly vehicles, made from natural woods, with all rounded corners, and with absolutely no artificial paints or dyes.

The perfect size for little hands! And so cute!

Colette Kids is offering Homeschool.com readers 10% off their order. Just enter coupon code: COLETTE10 at checkout.

See-Inside Bucket Balance
Sold at Lakeshore, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $17

The super-versatile bucket balance gives children a clear view of science in action. Each removable, see-inside bucket holds both liquids & solids...so students can observe, weigh and compare water, rocks, feathers, sand and so much more.

Eco Friendly Art Supplies
By eco-kids, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $6-$24

Creative play the natural way™. This is a line of art supplies that gives children the tools to create using non-toxic, natural ingredients. Products include an eco-art pad, eco-dough, eco-fingerpaints, eco-crayons, eco-paste--plus, more eco-options!

Coloringwalls
Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $15 & $20 (this INCLUDES the shipping & handling)

Coloringwalls are large coloring "pages" that are printed on white paper.  They can be taped on your wall or used on a large table or even on the floor.  Coloringwalls provide hours of coloring fun for one or for a group.   Blank spaces left on the posters encourage children to add their own artwork.

The artist offers a great variety with different themes, including animals, locations, seek & find, seasonal and more. Available in two sizes--1' x 4' & 2' x 8'.

Be Blocks
Sold at HeriloomWoodenToys.com, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $50

Be playful, be free, be creative and be yourself!

These 100% natural, smooth bamboo blocks become a work of art when embellished with your creative touch and Be Blocks colorful non-toxic markers.

Includes:

  • 18 2" bamboo cubes
  • 8 non- toxic markers
  • 100+ Be Blocks stencils
  • Be Blocks idea booklet
  • 100% natural bamboo box
  • Pick and Draw
    Ages 3 and Up, $10 per deck

    Pick and Draw is a fun, one-of-a-kind drawing game that teaches how to make very creative cartoon faces. The game fosters creative thinking and imagination.

    You can see a video of the product here .

    Homeschool.com reader Pamela recommends this product. "It's a simple product, inexpensive, and it combines creativity and art."

    Boysterous Boys
    By Manhattan Toy, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $17

    Not quite a doll--not quite an action figure! The perfect in-between for your little boy (or girl). The figures' legs and arms bend and their hands and feet are magnetized so they can play ALL of the Boysterous sports! Combine a little educational information about a particular sport , and you have a homeschool lesson.

    Buy several--they're fun to play with in a group.

    A video of the products can be seen here.  

    Jr. Space Explorer Inflatable Space Shuttle and Astronaut Suit
    By Aeromax, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $35 for the Shuttle and $50 for the Suit

    The shuttle = great fun in the house or pool. Kids can climb aboard the inflatable spacecraft and pretend they're taking off to the moon, Mars, or the far reaches of space that only their imaginations can explore. The Jr. Space Explorer Inflatable Space Shuttle features a genuine looking instrument panel complete with a built-in view of Earth for added play value. This toy spurs an interest in science and space while encouraging imaginative play.

    Combine the shuttle with a dress up Jr. Astronaut suit, and your little guy--or girl is ready for take-off.

    LOTS of additional space/toy accessories can be found here .

    Wood Blocks
    goodwood deconstruction blocks, Sold at aroundsquare, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $24-$36

    The goodwood deconstruction blocks are designed for real creative play... play for play's sake.  They're handmade, from sustainably harvested rubber wood, and painted with non-toxic water-based acrylic paint.  There are various sets to choose from.

    If you purchase directly from aroundsquare.com, they will match your purchase with a donation to a childcare facility where the toys will be enjoyed by children in need.

    My Little Pony Friendship Express Train
    By Hasbro, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $23

    A train for girls in mind!

    Around the bends, over the bridge, and even off the track, this My Little Pony train takes Pinkie Pie pony wherever she wants to go. The complete set includes an easy-to-assemble 7-piece train track, a motorized train engine, railroad cart and a Pinkie Pie pony figure. And you can expand the train--additional cars are available.

    A video of the product can be seen here.

    Two AA batteries are required but not included.

    Elemental Blocks
    Made by Uncle Goose, Sold at UncommonGoods.com, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $33

    Perfect for the young scientist, these cubes are literal building blocks for an education in chemistry. The set includes 20 six-sided colored blocks that contain the 118 elements found on the periodic table. The six sides contain a unique element's name, atomic number and symbol in bright blue, purple, green, red, orange or pink.

    Plus, they're handmade and nontoxic.

    Talking Tubes
    By ALEX, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $28

    A modern take on the time honored can and string telephone! Voices travel beautifully through this tube allowing older children to think about the science behind the phones - sound waves vibrating along the plastic tubes from speaker to listener.

    A video of the product can be seen here .

    Rainbow People Mover
    By North Star Toys, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $25

    Combine the brilliance of the rainbow with a bus load of joyful kids, add plenty of learning opportunities and fun galore--and that's the Rainbow People Mover--ten passengers to arrange, count, and match by color.

    Made from alder and birch, and painted with non-toxic paint.

    Plus, North Star has many other wooden toys to choose from (Animals of the Sea, Big Rollie Dinosaurs, and many, many more).

    Hopscotch
    By ALEX, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $48

    This hopscotch snaps together like a puzzle--and it's good for indoors and out! Plus, the box acts as a storage tote--very convenient.

    This toy encourages hopping, jumping--overall fun!

    Wooden Robot
    By Soopsori, Sold at ColetteKids.com, Ages 3 and Up, Approx. $25

    Eco-friendly, made from different types of natural woods, all rounded corners, plus, no artificial paints or dyes. And there is a bear as well! Both are cute as can be.

    Adults that see this robot, tend to really like it. Because of this, it might make a great office toy as well as a kid's toy (think how attractive it might be on a shelf next to books). This little guy appeals to young and old alike!

    Colette Kids is offering Homeschool.com readers 10% off their order. Just enter coupon code: COLETTE10 at checkout.

    Alphabet Matcher
    By Twisterz Toys, Ages 3-6 Years, Approx. $20

    Alphabet Matcher challenges children to choose a letter and find the five corresponding images that begin with that letter. For example, kids might select the letter "F" and find Fish, Foot, Frog, Flower and Flag. An answer guide is included.

    Alphabet Matcher engages skills ranging from logic to spelling.

    You can see a video of the toy here .

    Homeschool.com reader Pamela remarks, " I am very impressed with this toy."

    Stilts
    Sold at Bella Luna Toys, Ages 3-6, Approx. $20

    These natural wooden walking block stilts, cut from natural birch branches, provide hours of fun for young children as they challenge their gross motor skills and balance.

    A fun, old fashioned toy.

    Community Block People
    By Lakeshore, Ages 3-6, Approx. $30

    No city or town is complete without community workers! These block play figures represent a variety of occupations, ages, and ethnicities. The set includes the 12 people shown.

    There are MANY Block Play People sets to choose from--the selection is impressive--the entire selection can be seen here .

    Play Mat
    By ALEX, Ages 3-7 Approx. $20

    A 36" X36" vinyl coated play mat -- and tote - all in one! The cute road and city design is great for imaginative play.

    The surface is waterproof and easy to wipe clean. The tote is perfect for car trips, days out, and home play.

    The extra toys pictured are not included.

    Easy Ride Taxi-Trike
    By Lakeshore Learning, Ages 3-7, Approx. $300

    Here's a tricycle built for two! This extra-long trike has two roomy, contoured seats, so both driver and passenger enjoy a safe, comfortable ride. Plus, it's a cinch to pedal, even with someone in the backseat!

    Recommended by Homeschool.com staffer Ann who states, "A Taxi-Trike is one of the best toys around. It's the toy I think of most when I think of my youngest son. He was SO proud to take his friends on rides.....what a self-esteem builder! And did you know a recent study found that more young children know how to play a computer game than ride a bike?

    Inchimals
    by Fat Brain, Ages 3-8 Years, Approx. $35

    Inchimals is a set of 12 wooden blocks which measure 1' in height (the tiny ladybug) to 12' high (the towering giraffe). They are great for introducing preschool children to measurement and basic math.

    A video of the product can be seen here.

    Homeschool.com reader Priya writes, "My 5 year old has had this for over 2 years now and she still loves adding and subtracting with these. They are very colorful and inviting."

    Mighty Mind Puzzles
    By Leisure Learning Products, Inc., Sold at 4Knowledge-4Fun.com, Ages 3-8, Approx. $19

    A special beginner series of 30 puzzles which are programmed in numerical order to provide a child with the logic and thinking skills needed for future success. Included are 32 design tiles, in 6 basic geometric shapes, 4 colors, and in both large and small sizes.

    Innotab 2S
    By VTech, Ages 3-9, Approx. $99

    With this child-friendly version of a touchpad tablet, the VTech InnoTab 2S Wi-Fi Learning App Tablet helps your child learn with one of today's most popular technologies. This wi-fi-enabled multimedia tablet combines interactive reading, learning games, and creative activities in a sleek and durable educational toy.

    Developmental benefits--cognitive development, basic math skills, problem solving, science concepts, reading development, visualization, memory, and more.

    Preschool Rhythm Set
    By Lakeshore, Ages 3-11 Years, Approx. $45

    Perfect for up to 10 players, this top-quality rhythm set includes 1 each of wrist and ankle bells, jingle clog, guiro tone block, triangle, castanets and cluster bells; plus 1 pair each of sand blocks, rhythm sticks and maracas. And everything comes in a handy plastic box with a lid.

    The benefits of music? Too many to be listed here! But a few of the biggees--music improves reading and comprehension skills as well as mathematical ability.

    CitiBlocs
    Ages 3-12, Approx. $ 30

    This 100 piece NEON Color set is great for building simple, small structures. It's also great for encouraging kids' imagination and boosting their fine motor skills.

    CitiBlocs wooden building sets are compatible and interchangable -there are many to choose from. With this particular set, the container acts as storage.

    There are MANY CitiBlocs videos on YouTube.

    CitiBlocs is offering Homeschool.com readers free shipping, now through Dec 31 - enter coupon code "ship4free" during checkout at - http://store.citiblocs.com .

    Pocket Pouch
    By Tegu, Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $ 32

    Tegu has reinvented the wooden block in a way that brings new life to a favored classic. By safely embedding magnets into each piece, the blocks defy gravity and push your child's imagination in ways never before possible.

    This toy promotes mathematical and scientific reasoning through geometric exploration, spatial relations, and beyond--all under the guise of fun. Perfect for keeping little hands busy in a stroller, car seat or at a restaurant.

    Naturally safe: no lead, no plastic, non-toxic, water-based lacquer finish, no small parts.

    There are many TEGU products to choose from-- block sets and mobility toys .

    A video of the Pocket Pouch can be seen here . A video of their other blocks can be seen here .

    Animal Books by Janell Cannon
    Written by Janell Cannon, Sold at Magers and Quinn Booksellers, Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $10

    Delightful and informative books about unlikely creatures--a fruit bat , a python and a hyena !

    Plus, Magers and Quinn offers a 10% discount to homeschoolers.

    Salad Set
    By Green Toys, Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $18

    Watch healthy eating habits sprout with this fresh and fun salad set. In this 20-piece stackable set, each realistic part is made from food-safe, 100% recycled plastic milk containers.

    A video of this product can be seen here .

    Dr. Seuss' The Cat In The Hat Game
    Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $30

    Help! The house is a mess, and it's up to you to clean up before Mother gets home! This enchanting Dr. Seuss game is easy to learn and play. Just match letters and colors as you race along the board - every match lets you pick up something the Cat left behind. This game is designed for parents and children to play together.

    Recommended by Homeschool.comreader Derian.

    A game that teaches kids to clean up! Brilliant!

    Care for Our World Play Set
    Written by Karen S. Robbins, Published by Compendium, Inc., Sold at Live-Inspired.com, Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $35

    What a beautifully boxed set--fun and educational too! The set includes a book, dozens of punch-out animals, and a keepsake habitat box.

    This is a book your kids can play with!

    MiniBLOX
    Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $18

    MiniBlox are compact and can improve hand-eye coordination skills. They can be used to build over 100 configurations.

    Homeschool.com reader. K. Mason writes, "We ordered 3 sets at 9.99 each (three boxes per set for a total of 9 boxes, enough to fill a large tote) and are more than pleased. They provide hours of fun and educational play, especially for the little ones. We highly recommend them."

    Crinkle-Cut Craft Scissors Center
    By Lakeshore, Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $30

    These kid-sized craft scissors let children create scallops, ripples, waves and more. Each pair features a different design, with the pattern printed right on the side so it's easy to identify. Plus, the scissors come in a handy hardwood and acrylic caddy that keeps them neat, organized and easy to reach.

    Great for manual dexterity and creativity.

    Root-Vue
    By HSP Nature Toys, Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $35

    Fascinating garden laboratory where kids of all ages can watch the action below the ground. A science/nature experiment you can eat!

    Complete kit includes: self-watering grow unit, 8 special biopower grow mix wafers, 3 packs of seeds, identification labels, and a 16 page booklet with instructions and experiments.

    This company offers a Worm-Vue as well.

    A video of the product can be seen here .

    Puppet-on-a-Stick
    By Educational Insights, Inc., Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $24

    These three oversized puppets with silly faces and movable mouths inspire dramatic play.

    You can see a video of the product here .

    MasterKitz
    By Kidzaw, Sold at Brilliant Sky Toys & Books, Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $30

    Learn. Create. Share. A fun way to explore art history.

    The Master Kitz® product line is a fun and engaging way to expose children to the great master painters and to art history.

    The kit includes all the tools your child needs to create his/her own masterpiece. The finished piece of art work fits in a standard 16" x 20" frame.

    Musical Kaleidoscope
    By Schylling, Sold at Kaleidoscopestoyou.com, Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $17

    Wind up this tin kaleidoscope and a rainbow of color chips starts to twirl - in sync with the tinkly music--it entertains the senses!

    Good old fashioned fun!

    You can see a vidoe of the toy here .

    Kaleidoscopestoyou.com is offering a 10% discount storewide for Homeschool.com readers. Use coupon code hs10.

    Quadrilla Twist & Rail Set
    By Hape, Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $ 150

    Quadrilla Twist and Rail is the versatile introduction to the Quadrilla system--which is the next generation of marble runs. It is a system of blocks, tracks and accessory pieces that allows the energy of marbles to travel down a make-your-own path.

    Quadrilla's versatile design allows a child to determine the marble's path and the options are endless. Simple 2 or 3 level switches or complex multi-level, multi-direction layouts are possible depending on the builder's understanding of the function of each piece. With this toy, the process of building is as much fun as the process of playing.

    Quadrilla blocks are colored in child safe, water based stains.

    You can see a video of the product here .

    "THE HATTIE" MOTHER/DAUGHTER APRONS
    Sold at UncommonGoods.com, Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $34-$44

    Combine the kids' cookbook (below) with a set of matching aprons and make cooking an ongoing, fun, and educational activity.

    These aprons are made of 100% cotton.

    Kids Fun & Healthy Cookbook
    Written by Nicole Graimes, Approx. $12

    Put the fun back into healthy eating with this bright and colorful cookbook which includes yummy interpretations of old classics, as well as new recipes. Plus, they're healthy recipes!!

    Eat Smart
    Sold at American Science & Surplus, Ages 4 and Up, Approx. $3 each


    They might as well learn something while they're trying to outlast you on eating those lima beans! These laminated, 12" x 17-3/8" mats have full-color fronts and black-and-white backs. Choose the United States Map, Stars & Constellations, Periodic Table of Elements or the Metric System.

    You can even make a project out of them as seen here .

    Kiwi Crate
    Ages 4-7, Approx. $20/Month

    Enjoy hands on fun delivered right to your door. Monthly projects that spark creativity--all materials and inspiration included! Arts & crafts, science activities, imaginative play, and much more.

    Monthly and annual subscription options are available or you can and select a gift subscription of 3, 6, or 12 months. This is a present that keeps on giving!

    A video of the product can be seen here .

    Leapster2 Learning Game System
    By Leap Frog, Ages 4--8 Years, Approx. $50

    With this smart handheld system, children learn valuable skills through a variety of animated games and activities. The Leapster2 System offers several options for creative play.

    Parents can use the Leapster2 to connect to the LeapFrog Learning Path, an online, interactive tool in which parents can get updates and see firsthand what their children are learning.

    See a video of this product here .

    Requires 4 AA batteries which are not included.

    Recommended by Derian's children-- and per Derian "It helps them improve in reading and writing."

    Skipper
    By JJiToys, Sold at 4Knowledge-4Fun.com, Ages 5 and Up, Approx. $5

    Old fashioned and fun. This toy helps improve a child's timing, rhythm, balance and agility. And it gets the heart pumping!

    This durable confetti rope with a color-coordinated ball comes in red and blue.

    Wildlife Videos
    By Brainfood Learning, Ages 5 and Up, Approx. $15

    LOTS of interesting and educational information!

    Birds featured in the video include the ostrich, penguin, goose, owl, hummingbird, woodpecker, macaw, pelican, and eagle. Insects featured include the grasshopper, ladybug, rhino beetle, firefly, mosquito, honey bee, water strider, ant, praying mantis, dragonfly, and butterfly.

    A video of the bird DVD can be seen here and a preview of the insect DVD can be seen here .

    3-D Create 'N' Color
    By RoseArt, Ages 5 and Up, Approx. $25

    Choose a playhouse, castle, rocket ship and more--each approx. 4 ft. tall!

    The corrugate kits include 12 washable Broadline Markers--a great craft activity--and ongoing fun when cpmpleted!

    Mini Eni Puzzle
    By Eni Puzzles, Sold at 4Knowledge-4Fun.com, Ages 5 and Up, Approx. $10

    Eni helps children see and understand patterns, helps them develop their motor skills, helps with basic eye and hand coordination, as well as with fundamental math skills, and helps with shape recognition and space perception.

    No batteries, no accessories, no gimmicks!

    You can see a video of the product here .

    Perler Beads
    Ages 5 and Up, Approx. $10

    This bucket of beads will keep kids busy for hours! The bucket contains LOTS of beads, 5 reusable pegboards, ironing paper, and easy instructions. Pegboards included are: small square, small circle, small hexagon, small star, and small heart.

    Perler Beads help to develop hand-eye coordination, color and shape recognition, and fine motor skills.

    Homeschool.com reader Becky writes, "We use them for crafts, to transition between subjects, as a break while listening to audio subjects, as gifts and also give completed ones to our dentist to take on his mission trips. They are cute to attach to packages or just to brighten a room and make people smile."

    Unit Blocks
    Made by Jonti-Craft, Sold at HeirloomWoodenToys.com, Ages 5 and Up, Approx. $120

    Kids enjoy hours of creative play with these time-honored classroom favorite unit blocks.

    Crafted from hardwood, which is stronger than oak, each block is finely sanded smooth to insure it will be splinter-free. All edges are beveled and all corners are safely rounded.

    If you want blocks, this site has MANY to choose from.

    Jump Rope
    By Green Toys, Ages 5 and Up, Approx. $10

    These eco-jumpers are made from 100% cotton rope (7 feet long and adjustable) and they have 100% recycled plastic handles.

    Little jumpers can burn energy and save energy at the same time!!

    What are the benefits of jump roping? Jumping rope elevates kids' heart rates, which strengthens their heart muscle and improves the efficiency of their circulatory system. Jumping rope boosts blood flow, which improves cognitive function and the ability to focus. So, you might want to add a little jump roping to your homeschool activities

    A video of the product can be seen here .

    Baseplate
    By LEGO, Ages 5 and Up, Approx. $5

    A 10 inch x 10 inch baseplate, which comes in green and blue. With the base plate, even more elaborate creations hold together and are easy to transport and display. The perfect starting point for any and all LEGO creations!

    Homeschool.com reader Sheila states, "These plates have added a new dimension to my son's Lego play. In fact, Sheila recommends--Lego--anything and everything--definitely Lego bricks!"

    Calvin and Hobbes books
    Written by Bill Watterson, Ages 5 and Up, Approx. $10

    Calvin and Hobbes books feature a rambunctious 6-year-old boy and his lively stuffed tiger.

    Also recommended by Sheila, one of our Homeschool.com readers.

    Cooperative Board Games
    By Peaceable Kingdom Press, Ages 5 and Up, 2-4 Players, Approx. $ 16

    Peaceable Kingdom's whole line of cooperative games emphasize play, not competition.

    These cooperative games foster-
    - Non-stressful play situations
    - Emotional development
    - Shared decision making
    - Creative problem solving
    - A sense of community
    - Positive self-esteem
    - Playfulness
    - Cooperation

    Plus, the games are 100% green--they use soy based inks and corn-based plastic.

    Sum Swamp
    By Learning Resources, Ages 5-7 Years, 2-4 Players, Approx. $20

    Math becomes an adventure with this addition and subtraction game that takes kids on a journey through Sum Swamp. Your kids will make their way over the crocodile shortcut and through the endless loop by adding and subtracting the numbers on the dice.

    Homeschool.com reader Nancy remarks, "This is one of my son's favorites!" Homeschool.com reader Dana agrees, "Both of my kids are past addition, but still love to play Sum Swamp!"

    Story Starter
    By Twisterz Toys, Ages 5-7 Years, Approx. $13

    The Story Starter is designed for shared use with young children and the adults that care for them.

    A child twists the rings in order to create one of several thousand combinations of story introductions. The caregiver can continue to tell a story from the introduction, or encourage the child to use his imagination and continue the story himself.

    A video of the toy can be seen here.

    Homeschool.com reader Pamela writes, "I like the story starter for older kids."

    Dino Dan Bonus Pack
    By Geoworld, Ages 5 and Up, Approx. $15

    With the Dino Dan Bonus Pack, children can select from one of four popular dinosaurs - the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Triceratops, Stegosaurus or Brachiosaurus. The kit features the dinosaur figure, a full-length Dino Dan™ episode, and a special secret access code that unlocks exclusive video content on the official website, www.DinoDan.com .

    Scramble Square Puzzles
    By B-Dazzle, Sold at 4Knowledge-4Fun.com, Ages 5 and Up, Approx. $9

    Perhaps the world's most challenging puzzle! Unscramble the nine square pieces by matching the pictures on the squares' edges, forming a large, finished 12" x 12" square. There are numerous options as to how the squares might be placed but there is only one correct solution.

    There are so many fun designs to choose from--turtles, farm animals, hummingbirds, planets and more. The packaging contains educational facts about each chosen subject.

    These puzzles promote critical thinking skills, observation and problem solving abilities, fine motor skills, eye to hand coordination, plus, patience and perseverance.

    You can see a video of a puzzle here .

    Little Passports
    Ages 5 Years-10 Years, Approx. $11/ Month

    Inspire a love and understanding of the world as your child learns about a country's geography, culture and language in a fun and memorable way. Your child will love receiving his/her own mail every month from globetrotting characters Sam and Sofia.

    The first month's kit includes a fun travel suitcase, introductory letter, world wall map, travel passport, stickers, activity sheet, and access to online games with the boarding pass. In each following month, your child receives a package from Sam & Sofia as they travel to a new country. The package is full of goodies including a country specific souvenir such as an Egyptian dig kit or a traditional Mexican toy.

    Little Passports is so unique! It's a great way to inspire a love and understanding of the world, and instill a sense of curiosity in regards to geography and traveling.

    You can see a video of the product here .

    Special for Homeschool.com readers--Get 10% off Little Passports with code: lphs10.

    Potholder Purse
    By Harrisville Designs, Sold at 4Knowledge-4Fun.com, Ages 6 and Up, Approx. $17

    Make the (2) potholders and turn them into a purse! Everything is provided except a needle and a thread.

    Great for fine motor skills--and the end product is very cute!

    Pan for Gold Science Kit
    By Dr. Cool Science, Ages 6 and Up, Approx. $ 20

    This hands-on science kit teaches kids how to pan for gold just like a real prospector. It includes a 10-inch miner's pan, pyrite nuggets, a drawstring bag, a vial for storage, tweezers, a magnifying glass and a full-color adventure guide.

    Combine it with a lesson about the Gold Rush for an educational and fun experience.

    A video of the product can be seen here .

    Micro Charger Time Track
    Ages 6 and Up, Approx. $49

    Comes with 2 quick charge cars--600mph scale speed!

    This toy encourages your children to learn about velocity and more.

    A video of the product can be seen here .

    Tumblewood Wood Stacking Game
    Sold at Bella Luna Toys, Ages 6 and Up, 1-8 Players, Approx. $35

    Tumblewood is a unique wooden game of dexterity, physics, strategy and fun! Tumblewood features hand hewn pieces of wood (like those found in split rail fences in New England) that are not uniform in size or shape. Players must use logic and reasoning to balance thin and thick sides of each piece to prevent the tower from tumbling!

    Instructions include rules for six different games. This set is housed in a custom-made wooden box with a sliding top.

    STEM+ Educator Kit
    By Zoometool, Ages 6 and Up, Approx, $420

    The Zometool kit supports STEM education. (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.) With it, your kids can build hundreds of models, from simple to remarkable -- the sky's the limit!

    Homeschool.com reader Sara writes, "Our coolest gift at Christmas last year was probably the Zometool STEM set. It's on the spendy side, but it has so many possible uses that it has kept my kids enthralled all year."

    Homeschool Buyers Co-op offers 30% off AND 5,000 SmartPoints with the purchase of this item.

    Nature Books by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long
    Written by Dianna Hutts Aston and Illustrated by Sylvia Long, Sold at Magers & Quinn Booksellers, Ages 6 and Up, Approx. $10

    Informative and beautifully illustrated books about nature.

    Plus, Magers & Quinn offers a 10% discount to homeschooling families.

    Kids E-mail
    Ages 6 and Up, $10.95/year

    Do your children want an e-mail account? You can now say "YES" with this e-mail service designed and written to help protect children online. The safety features and the overall look of this product are very appealing.

    You can read a Homeschool.com product review here and watch a demonstration of the product here .

    Recommended by Homeschool.com reader Ann, "This is a very cute product-easy to use-and the safety features are great."

    KidsEmail is offering a special gift card promotion to Homeschool.com readers. For just $10.95, Homeschool.com readers can purchase protected e-mail service for an entire year (this can be for multiple children in the same home). Write [email protected] to request this special holiday gift card promotion. The opportunity to purchase KidsEmail gift cards expires on 1/1/2013--so get yours while you can!

    My First Bird Book and Bird Feeder
    Written by Sharon Lovejoy, Published by Workman Publishing, Ages 6 and Up, Approx. $22

    A great way to introduce kids to nature and the joys of bird-watching, My First Bird Book and Bird Feeder combines a full-color illustrated field guide and activity book with a custom-designed, sky blue window feeder.

    The book's charming watercolor illustrations help young birders easily identify their subjects, while the lively text provides facts on bird life, easy-to-make recipes for bird food, and more.

    The feeder is shaped like a house, fully open in the front for the birds, and has side windows and a porthole for the viewer. The roof protects the feed, and the bottom lip folds open for easy cleaning. Two suction cups hold the feeder to the window.

    Butterfly , Firefly or Bat Puppets
    Sold at TheNatureStore.com, Ages 6 and Up, Approx. $5--$15

    Finger and hand puppets. So cute--and they encourage pretend play.

    Other non-flying puppets are available.

    Eco YoYos
    By Begin Again Toys, Ages 6 and Up, Approx. $3

    A brightly stained, safe, durable, and an eco-friendly (made from plantation grown rubber wood) version of a timeless toy.

    Download information about YoYo physics , as well as YoYo tricks --for some good old- fashioned (and educational) fun.

    Hearts For Hearts Girls
    By Playmates Toys, Ages 6-10, Approx. $30

    Each doll represents a girl from a different country--a girl with her own story and a girl that wants to make a difference in her life, community, and culture. Lauryce and Dell are from the United States, Zelia (Brazil) Rahel (Ethiopia), Nahji (India), Tipi (Laos), Consuelo (Mexico), and Lilian is from Belarus.

    When you buy a Hearts For Hearts Girls doll, a portion of the purchase price is donated to children's causes in the represented countries. Whether it's malaria nets in Africa, schoolbooks in Asia, or food supplies in the United States, these programs help girls to thrive and succeed.

    Each Hearts For Hearts Girls Doll also comes with a special product code. Once you enter that code and create a user name on the hearts4heartsgirls web site, you can enjoy all of their online content and activities--for free! If you don't own a doll or don't want to register, you can still visit and enjoy portions of the website.

    A video showcasing the dolls can be seen here .

    Homeschool.com reader Aimee writes, "these dolls make great gifts. With the variety, there is a doll that almost any girl can relate to."

    This company is offering $5 off a Hearts for Hearts Girl doll to Homeschool.com readers.  The promo code is H4HOCT12 and can be used when ordering at  www.hearts4heartsgirls.com.

    Basic Geodes Science Kit
    By Discover with Dr. Cool, Ages 6-12, Approx. $ 30

    The geodes in this kit are millions of years old and were formed when prehistoric volcanoes erupted. Break open these real geodes to discover the incredible crystal formations hidden inside. The kit includes safety goggles and a geode adventure guide.

    Geodes are an amazing natural phenomenon, and cracking them open is a thrill for all ages.

    An informative video of the product can be seen here .

    The Lego Ideas Book
    Written by Daniel Lipkowitz, Ages 7 and Up, Approx. $16

    Did you ever wonder what you can do with all of those LEGO® bricks after you have created the project they came with? Now with The LEGO Ideas Book, you can take what you already have and make something new! The book is divided into six themed chapters----each with basic templates of key models to inspire you to create your own.

    A video of this product can be seen here . Even though the reviewer has one reservation, her son gives the book a ten out of ten!

    Recommended by Homeschool.com reader Sheila--who recommends just about anything LEGO!

    Fossil Island Dinosaur Adventure Game
    By White Sand Games, Ages 7 and Up, Approx. $22

    Cute dinosaur playing pieces and fun for everyone!

    Plus, the game teaches counting skills.

    There are three different levels of play--so people of differing ages and abilities are able to play side by side. Additional card decks are available that allow the game to grow with the child.

    KEVA Contraptions
    By MindWare, 7 and Up, Approx. $50

    Build unbelievable ball track structures with this simple stacking plank system. Create ramps, funnels, chutes and crazy contraptions like the ''black hole'' or the ''bounce plate''.

    No glue, no connectors - just loads of constructive fun. Includes: 200 identical wooden planks, 2 specially designed light weight balls for maximum action and an 18 page idea book with project photos and quick start instructions.

    A video of the toy can be seen here .

    Homeschool.com reader Michele writes, "These are a must have toy for my son!"

    Unlikely Friendships for Kids
    Written by Jennifer S. Holland, Published by Workman Publishing Company, Ages 7 and Up, Approx. $8 Each

    Unlikely Friendships is a runaway New York Times bestseller with more than 260,000 copies in print in less than half a year; a book with its compelling message of hope and friendship and differences overcome.

    Now Unlikely Friendships is rewritten for younger readers: Unlikely Friendships for Kids, a series of hardcover chapter books. Chapter books give young readers a strong sense of accomplishment, and these heartwarming animal stories, with their incredible photographs and inexplicable mysteries of attraction, their focus on friendship, love, and the ways that creatures of all different species can find common bonds of affection, will keep kids turning the pages to find out about the unusual ways animals help each other and discover the love of new friends.

    Ages 8-12

    Rockboard Original Scooter
    Ages 8 and Up and up to 200 lbs., Approx. $200

    Propulsion is achieved with each rock, wasting zero energy and allowing the scooter to reach speeds up to 10mph.

    The patented Rockboard Scooter comes fully assembled and can be folded to a compact size for storage.

    A video of the product can be seen here.

    Recommended by Homeschool.com reader Gretta. She writes, "This scooter is great--for kids and adults!"

    History Over Time Puzzle--USA
    By 4D Cityscape, Ages 8 and Up, Approx. $ 30

    Assemble and learn. 4D Cityscape allows you to build the history of the USA over the 4th Dimension of Time. Starting with the base layer, the jigsaw showcases the evolution of the USA - based on territorial expansion from the year 1783 to 1900's. You then assemble the 2nd layer "modern" jigsaw map - which showcases the formation all 50 states in a time sequence based on each State's date of established statehood. The third layer is constructed using the 4D Time Poster where 93 of the most famous U.S. monuments and buildings are placed into the puzzle in the order that they were constructed.

    Many city puzzles are available, as well as the entire USA puzzle.

    You can see a video of the product here .

    Nature's Art Box & Recycled Crafts Box
    Written by Laura C. Martin and published by Storey Publishing, LLC, Ages 8 and Up, Approx. $12

    Laura C. Martin shows kids how to make art out of the paper, plastic, metal, and cloth we usually consign to the recycling bin or the garbage can. And this book is extremely educational -- kids learn about trash, recycling, nature and more.

    This is a GREAT educational craft book with many fun activities. Give with the promise to do a craft a week/every two weeks--whatever works for your family.

    Homeschool.com reader Jen is crazy about this book.

    Electric Football Challenge
    By Miggle Toys, Ages 8 and Up, Approx. $60

    Grid-iron heroes grind it out on the classic field of battle.

    A game of strategy and skill for all players.

    A video of the product can be seen here .

    Homeschool.com reader Sheila writes, "This old-fashioned football game gets a lot of play in our house."

    Bike Chalk Trail
    By Chalktrail, Sold at UncommonGoods.com, Ages 8 and Up,
    Approx. $27

    Chalktrail brings the simple, timeless joy of riding a bike or scooter together with the creative expression of decorating the neighborhood streets and sidewalks with bright and colorful chalk--"ARTIVITY".

    While a solo rider will have a blast turning the open road (or perhaps, more appropriately, his/her own driveway), into a canvas, coloring outside the lines is made that much more fun with friends!

    No bright lights, flashing screens, blaring noises, cords, batteries or internet connections. Just kids, wheels, chalk, fresh air and fun.

    A video of the product can be seen here .

    Boogie Board
    By Improv Electronics, Sold at Brilliant Sky Toys & Books, Ages 8 and Up, Approx. $40

    The LCD Writing Tablet is a sophisticated version of the retro Magic Slate you may have played with as a child--you can simply erase what you've written with the touch of a button.

    This product encourages creativity.

    Nonstandard batteries are required and included.

    Eco Monthly Packages
    By MyGroovyPlanet.com, Ages 8 and Up, Approx. $18/Month or Less

    Groovy Planet offers a monthly delivery of theme-based, fun, educational surprise packages for your child--packages that will encourage your child to recycle, conserve, volunteer--to take care of the planet/ become a groovy global citizen!

    Suspend Family Game
    By Melissa & Doug, Sold at HeirloomWoodenToys.com, 1-4 Players, Ages 8 and Up, Approx. $ 18

    A family game of tricky hangs and steady hands!

    Suspend comes with 24 notched, rubber-tipped wire pieces to hang from a tabletop stand. Sound easy? Try adding another piece! Each time a bar is added, the balance shifts, the difficulty changes and the incredible midair sculpture transforms.

    This game develops hand-eye coordination, cognitive skills and interpersonal skills.

    Battleship Deluxe Movie Edition
    By Hasbro, Ages 8 and Up, 1-2 Players, Approx. $40

    Play on your own or battle a friend, and choose from three edge-of-your seat missions.

    Includes folding BATTLESHIP game unit with 2 storage trays; 5 Navy ships; 5 Alien ships; red, white and blue pegs; 3 red aircraft; 3 blue aircraft; a label sheet; 4 rubber feet and a rulebook.

    You can see a video of the product here .

    Requires 3 AA batteries which are not included.

    Homeschooler Ben (age 11) loves this game.

    DIY LAVA Lip Goss Craft Making Kit
    By Kiss Naturals, Sold at 4Knowledge-4Fun.com, Ages 8 and Up, Approx. $22

    100% natural ingredients - and these homemade lip glosses have a unique lava lamp effect. Kids love the gloss and bubbling swirls of color, while parents have peace of mind in knowing that the product is completely safe-no additives, dyes, synthetics or fillers!

    10% of the profit from the sale of this kit is donated to charity.

    Enviro Battery
    By Green Science, Ages 8 Years and Up, Approx. $11

    Mr. Potato Head can't do this! With a real potato, some mud and some salt, your child can create electricity!

    Kit includes: zinc and copper plates with connection wires (4 each), 3 cups (1 paper, 2 plastic), 2 bottle screw caps, 1 LED lamp light tower, 1 sound chip, 1 LCD watch, tape, and instructions.

    Snap Circuits Extreme SC-750
    By Elenco, Ages 8 and Up, Approx. $90

    Elenco's Snap Circuits makes learning electronics easy and fun! Just follow the colorful pictures in the manual and build exciting projects such as FM radios; digital voice recorders; burglar alarms; doorbells and much more. All parts are mounted on plastic modules and snap together with ease.

    4 AA batteries are required.

    "A must have", per Homeschool.com reader, Michele!

     

    Lessons!
    Ages 8 and Up, Prices Vary

    Photography ? Guitar ? What does your child want to learn? Why not give your child six months of online lessons? The options are endless!

    Scrabmled States
    By Gamewright, Ages 8 and Up, Approx. $15

    Quick! Find a state that ends with the letter A. Now find one that borders Tennessee.

    Have fun learning about the United States in this madcap game of observation and quick reflexes.

    Homeschool.com reader Dana writes, "We love the Scrambled States of America game!  We bought it this weekend and my kids have wanted to play it each day. Lots of fun and it helps children with their U. S. geography."

    CitizenKid
    By Kids Can Press, Ages 8 -12, Approx. $19

    The CitizenKid collection of books makes complex global issues accessible for children and covers topics such as water conservation, biodiversity, food security, microlending, citizenship, global awareness and more.

    The following was taken from the book, If the World Were a Village --

    "At this moment, there are 6.9 billion people on the planet! It's hard to picture so many people at one time - but what if we imagine the whole world as a village of just 100 people??

    In this village:

    21 people speak a Chinese dialect
    10 earn less than two dollars a day
    14 cannot read or write
    45 have a television in their home
    47 do not always have enough to eat"

    Other CitizenKid books include This Child, Every Child , If America Were a Village , Tree of Life , Mimi's Village and more.

    A video of the product can be seen here .

    Fandex Field Guides
    Written by a variety of Authors, Ages 9 and Up, Approx. $10

    There are many interesting and attractive field guides. Each contains 50 full-color, die-cut cards with detailed information - providing fun and learning for the whole family.

    There are many topics to choose from, those that are fun, such as cats, to more educational ones such as U.S. Presidents or Composers.

    Homeschool.com reader Rachelle writes, "We LOVE Fandex. My daughter fidgets with them in the car, uses them educationally and reads them a page at a time as one would read a book. My daughter is six, but these Fandexes are really generally intended for the slightly older and visual crowd. They come in all sorts of subject areas."

    Build a Red Toolbox Bug Barn , Candy Maze or Soccer Table
    By Red Toolbox, Sold at ReevesIntl.com, Ages 10 and Up, Prices Vary

    Red Toolbox offers a unique set of wood building kits, designed with parents and kids in mind--offering wholesome learning and fun for everyone.

    Even parents with no previous building experience can offer guidance along the way, watching as their child learns to follow instructions and illustrations, assume responsibility and develop his or her independence and capabilities.

    And there are so many different kits available !

    Homeschool.com reader Chanel thinks the kits are GREAT.

    Trebuchet Kit
    Made by Pathfinders, Sold at HeirloomWoodenToys.com, Ages 12 and Up, Approx. $35.00

    The trebuchet took many forms throughout the Medieval world, hurling huge rocks, giant fireballs and other things, into castles.

    This is a tabletop working replica of a trebuchet made in the 13th Century. Standing 26 inches tall by 18 inches wide, this model shoot balls of plasticine (included) over 20 feet--so be careful of what (or whom) you take aim, as this thing can really let loose!

    This kit--

    Model is pre-cut and each joint is drilled for a strong connection.

    Comes with a leather-like sling and soft modeling clay for safe hurling!

    Has an excellent, easy to read and understand building manual with 19 clear illustrations.

    Can be built in 1 to 2 hours with little modeling experience needed.

    Teens

    The Calligrapher's Bible
    Written by David Harris, Approx. $20

    This is an essential guide for all calligraphers - whether they are amateurs or professionals.

    The book contains over 100 different alphabets with detailed instructions on how to draw all the letters. The binding allows the book to lie flat which makes it easy to work from. There is also useful information about tools and materials, basic layouts, and illumination and ornamentation.

    Recommended by Homeschool.com reader Pamela.

    Auto Upkeep
    By Homeschool.AutoUpkeep.com, Approx. $57

    This course is for everyone--not just teenagers--but what a great way to say, "Congratulations, you can get your learner's permit", or even, "Congratulations, here are the keys to your first car."

    Comes with a textbook, workbook and CD--VERY thorough. A must-have for almost everyone!

    Massaging Bed Rest
    Sold at Brookstone, Approx. $100

    Have a student that studies on his/her bed? Softer bed rests collapse over time--and pillows aren't meant for back support. This bed rest is sturdy--the light can be used, or tucked against the top of the bed rest, and the massaging action is great! It folds up and can be put under the bed when not in use.

    Homeschool.com reader Christian says, "This is great for studying."

    Global Girlfriend Scarves, Purses and MORE

    The GreaterGood Network of websites offers a unique opportunity to support causes you might believe in.

    Global Girlfriend is just one of these sites. Global Girlfriend specializes in handmade, fairly traded, eco-conscious apparel, accessories, and items made by women all over the world.

    Both you and your teen will enjoy the style--while at the same time, helping others.

    Homeschoolers Amanda and Tiffany (both teenagers) rave about the sites--and the products that are available.

    University Hoodies
    Prices Vary

    Where do your teens want to go for college? Encourage their dreams by purchasing a school hoodie! Hoodies can be purchased at college bookstores and online.

    Ribbon Journals
    By Schylling, Approx. $10

    These are multi-colored ribbon journals---with laminate covers, fabric bows along the spine, and 200 pages of white lined paper. Perfectly sized for a backpack or a purse.

    Yes, blogs have taken the place of diaries, but who wouldn't want to write in these darling books?

    Support an Animal Charity
    Prices Vary--Approx. $20-$50

    You don't want to commit to a dog or a cat? How about a gorilla, a wolf or a bear?

    Adopt one--or two! Learn about them as well--as each site contains educational materials.

    Your teens will appreciate the good they're doing.

    Masterpiece Cards
    Ages 8 and Up (but especially appropriate for teenagers), Approx. $81

    This is a beautifully packaged set of two hundred and fifty 4" by 6" art history cards covering 5+ centuries of art history.

    To read a Homeschool.com product review of this product, click here.

    Homeschool.com reader Meg writes, "These are beautiful!"

    Buddah Board Laptop
    Sold by Tea by the Sea, Approx. $30

    A mature, more sophisticated version of the Aqua Doodle.

    Dip the brush in water, make a brushstroke on the surface--the brushstroke will darken and look like black ink. But it's just water, and in just a few minutes it will evaporate and leave a clear surface to use over and over again.

    No mess, nothing to clean. Environmental friendly.

    Looks like a laptop and the packaging is beautiful.

    Buddah Board is discontinuing the laptop version--so it's now or never!

    Nature's Art Box
    Written by Laura C. Martin, Published by Storey Books, Approx. $17

    With this book, kids can learn how to make paints from flowers and other plants; weave vines; and use plants to stamp T-shirts.

    Throughout, Martin teaches kids to respect nature and to be conscientious stewards of the earth's resources while developing their artistic skills.

    The book offers 65 craft projects in all, and is 224 pages in length--this is a substantial book.

    olloclip 3-in-1 Lens
    Approx. $70

    Attaches to the iPhone 4/4S and now the iPhone 5 in seconds--allows you to take fisheye, wide angle and macro shots. Compatible with the iPod Touch 4th and 5th Generation.

    You can see a video of the product here.

    Eco-Friendly Corn Resin Watches
    By Sprout Watches, Ages Kids-Adults, Prices Vary

    There are so many eco-friendly watches to choose from! Kid's. Men's. Women's. Unisex.

    At least 80% of the materials used to make Sprout watches are natural, low impact, biodegradable, recyclable or renewable. Plus, these watches are fashionable!

    A video of the product can be seen here.

    Moms & Dads

    Joy Journal
    Written by Homeschool.com's very own Rebecca Kochenderfer, Approx. $3 (Kindle or eBook) or $10 (soft cover)

    Joy Journal helps you remember the experiences and events in your life, large and small, that are filled with joy. It guides you to envision the wonderful day that lies ahead of you and it gently introduces you to new habits and new ways of thinking, so you can appreciate your life more, and make it even better!

    Joy Journal--it helps you rediscover the joy in your life, and make it a daily experience!

    The Indoor Flameless Marshmallow Roaster
    Sold at Hammacher Schlemmer, Approx. $70

    This is the indoor roaster that produces campfire-worthy toasted marshmallows without an open flame. It's ideal for creating s'mores year 'round--the included divided tray holds a ready supply of chocolate, graham crackers, or candies for your marshmallow creations.

    The marshmallows are toasted over a stainless steel electric heater, which make it safe and easy to use with children.

    ROKU
    Approx. $80

    Tons of entertainment in one little box. The #1 streaming player.

    You can see a video of the product here.

    Homeschool.com reader Renate writes, "One of the biggest tools we have used is our Roku box. It is a one- time fee for hundreds of channels. This will work in any home that has working high speed internet.

    Why is this such a great tool? Well, for a few reasons. Using the Roku, we have access to:

    1) Khan Academy -- free classes on a myriad of subjects--on the tv--not on the computer

    2) Netflix (7.99 additional per month) which allows us dozens of biographies, history lessons, nature lessons and lessons on nutrition

    3) the Indian Cooking Channel (as well as different countries too) -- this is neat because it teaches about cooking and foods. Believe it or not, my 6 & 8 year old LOVE this!

    4) the NASA Channel is neat because there is education material that exposes you to things never shown on regular TV."

    The 144X Zoom Binoculars
    Sold at Hammacher Schlemmer, Approx. $200

    At 144X magnification these binoculars can see the flick of a deer's ear 500 yards away. They can easily adjust from 20X to their maximum 144X with a simple press of a lever, providing sharp, clear images. Expertly collimated to provide a single image, they use powerful, fully coated optics, including 70mm objective lenses that offer superior light-gathering performance. They use a BaK7 porro prism system, providing a field of view of 131' at 1,000 yards, with an eye relief of 16 1/2 mm and a 3 1/2 mm exit pupil at 20X.

    They are shock-resistant, light, and easy to handle with their rubber grips. A tripod is recommended for stability at maximum zoom. Includes carrying case and lens caps.

    Maple Sugaring Starter Kit--Make Maple Syrup at Home
    From Tap My Trees, All Ages, Approx $75 and Up

    A truly unique gift--fun, educational and delicious too! Plus, this is a gift that you and your children can use for years to come.

    The Tap My Trees site has helpful information and lesson plans, oriented towards the beginner.

    The Side Opening Leather Weekender
    Sold at Hammacher Schlemmer, Approx. $330

    The side panel allows you to quickly remove or insert clothes and travel items without rummaging or disheveling neatly folded garments. Three large interior pockets accommodate toiletries or personal items, and three small pockets are ideal for holding a PDA, cell phone, and MP3 player. Two zippered end-pockets offer separate storage for two pairs of shoes. The wheeled bag has a telescoping handle for ease of navigation.

    Plus, it looks great! And traveling sure is educational!

    The Caramel Apple Maker (or a really super-duper fondue pot)
    Sold at Hammacher Schlemmer, Approx. $80

    This tabletop appliance makes it easy to create sticky sweet candy apples without the hassle and mess of melting caramel on a stovetop. A warming setting keeps heated caramel silky smooth under a transparent lid between dunkings.

    The stainless steel melting pot is heated by an electric heating element instead of a stove, so it is safe and easy to use with children. The included divided tray rotates around the unit, so you can dip apples into chopped nuts, sprinkles, or candy without reaching across the cord.

    The appliance also melts chocolate for fondue.

    CUISINE R-EVOLUTION
    Made by Molecule-R, Sold At UncommonGoods.com, Approx. $60

    Turn your kitchen into a food laboratory with this how-to kit that teaches you how to transform liquids, like honey, into jelly-like cubes, spherify chopped produce into flavor-packed beads, or even morph melted chocolate into a delicate powder or spaghetti-like strands. You're only limited by your imagination! So go ahead, play with your food!

    This all-encompassing kit includes five pre-measured food additives, five specialized molecular tools as well as a 50-recipe DVD that makes molecular gastronomy easy and accessible to all foodies.

    VERY interesting!

    Gaiam Yoga and Pilates Videos, Yoga Mat and Yoga Hand Towel
    $10 and Up

    The CorePower video combines cardio, strength and balance poses to offer an energizing yoga experience known as power yoga. Increase flexibility, lose weight and manage stress with practices that emphasize working your core for a total body workout.

    The Pilates DVD is the definitive beginner's guide to learning correct form and alignment. Develop the long, lean muscles and increase your strength and energy level too.

    The mat and hand towel--are great accessories.

    All Ages

    Stomp Rockets
    By D& L Company, Ages Vary, Approx. $15

    Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow-Ages 3 and Up

    Stomp Rocket Ultra-Ages 8 and Up

    Stomp Rocket Super High Performance-Ages 16 and Up

    Stomp rockets teach distance, trajectory, force, motion, and more--and they're just SO MUCH FUN! A toy that everyone enjoys!

    Movie Passes
    Prices Vary

    Buy a coupon book from your local theater. Going to the movies is always fun--and oftentimes, a family activity. Maybe even an educational activity!

    Educational/Fun Magazines
    By Cobblestone & Cricket, Approx. $25/year

    CRICKET offers 14 award-winning kid's magazines, so you can find the perfect fit for your children, whatever their age or interest. Their magazines for children contain only the work of world-renowned authors and exceptional artists, never any advertising, and they make great gifts for all the children on your list.

    SPECIAL DISCOUNT for Homeschool.com Readers -- Use code HS1207 & save 40% off the cover price on all one year subscriptions.

    Picture Ornaments Approx. $13

    Start a fun family tradition - photo ornaments each year, starting with Baby's First ornament. Your children are older? Don't worry - it's never too late to begin a family tradition. Kids love hanging their own ornaments!

    XBOX 360 KINECT Approx. $300

    Easy to use and instantly fun.

    Controller-free gaming means full body play. Kinect responds to how you move. So if you have to kick, you kick. If you have to jump, you jump. Kinect gets everyone off the couch-- moving, laughing and cheering.

    Homeschool.com reader Kerry writes, "My girls and I live in Wisconsin. I hate to admit, but must confess that our Kinect Xbox is invaluable in getting our fitness in when it drops to 30 below. We love being able to stay warm, workout, and it is a family endeavor. I was one of those parents who swore I would NEVER allow a video game in our house. However, with Kinect you must move. If you sit down it knows, and it calls you on it." 

    Mirage Maker
    Sold at American Science & Surplus, Approx. $40

    This is an incredible device! The Mirage®, a precision optical instrument, creates three-dimensional images of objects of your choice where there is nothing. Drop pennies, keys or similar small objects into the flying-saucer-shaped disc, and a perfect image of the object appears floating above it. A booklet (included) explains the "magic".

    Homeschool.com reader Jan writes, "This is an absolute favorite!"

     

    Learning Calendar 2013
    By Fatbrain, Approx. $10

    A colorful graphic or photograph is included on each date, with a quick explanation of the important event or person. Often activity ideas and trivia questions are included to add to the educational fun.

    There's no extra room on the calendar squares to write personal notes because they're so full of pictures and information, but an area at the bottom of each calendar page is left blank for writing in important personal dates.

    What a fun addition to anyone's homeschooling endeavors.

    Kindle
    By Amazon, $79 and Up

    There are many Kindle options--which one works for you and your family?

    Homeschool.com reader Kerry writes, "I have only tried a 2nd generation. I love it and recommend refurbished kindles that have a WIFI option, as this is the easiest way to download library books checked out through your public system."

    Newton's Cradle
    Sold at American Science & Surplus, Approx. $17

    Newton's Cradle is a clever device that not only demonstrates a pendulum, but also shows the Laws of Conservation of Momentum and Energy.

    Young and old enjoy this toy!

    XOOM Android Tablet
    By Motorola, Approx. $500

    The Motorola XOOM boasts a dual core processor with each core running at 1 GHz, 10.1-inch widescreen HD display, ultra-fast Wireless-N Wi-Fi networking, and support for Adobe Flash Player--enabling you (or your student) to view the web without compromise.

    Other features include a 32 GB internal memory, memory expansion via optional microSD cards (with future software upgrade), 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi networking, Bluetooth for hands-free devices, stereo music streaming, access to personal and corporate e-mail, HD 1080p video playback, HDMI output for connecting to a compatible HDTV or monitor, and a 3250 mAh battery for up to 10 hours of Wi-Fi internet browsing.

    Comes with the Motorola XOOM handset, charger, data cable, quick start guide, and user manual.

    Who wouldn't want to receive a XOOM?

    National Park Pass $80

    Provides entrance or access to pass owner and accompanying passengers in a single, private, non-commercial vehicle at federally operated recreation sites across the country.

    The parks have educational materials and your kids can partake in the Junior Ranger program. Fun!

    The LifeProof's nuud waterproof shockproof iPad Case
    (Prices Vary)

    The LifeProof nuud case is water proof, shock proof, dirt proof - basically it's kid proof!

    Parents and educators can have peace of mind their investment in technology is safe.

    Students can use their iPads everyday, and kids can just be kids.

    Cases also exist for iPhones and iPods.

    A video of the product can be seen here.

    Just Dance 3 (Just Dance 4 is also available)
    For Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and Play Station 3, Approx. $25

    Just Dance 3 is a fun PE alternative. Dance to over 40 of the hottest hits from yesterday and today, spanning a wide range of genres that are sure to please any music fan.

    Derian's kids love it! And as Derian says "physical education is important for busy bodies!"

    Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom
    Written by Jennifer S. Holland, Published by Workman Publishing, Approx. $14

    Written by National Geographic magazine writer Jennifer Holland, Unlikely Friendships documents one heartwarming tale after another of animals who, with nothing else in common, bond in the most unexpected ways. A cat and a bird. A mare and a fawn. An elephant and a sheep. And many more.

    You can see a video preview of the book here.

    Theatre Experience
    Prices Vary

    Introduce your children to the theatre this holiday season! They will be mesmerized by the songs, dances, and energy of a live performance.

    If available, purchase an accompanying CD as well! Your kids will love listening to the music for months to come.


       
     

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