Monday, December 6, 2010

What's On Our Gift List: Educational Products

This year, I have made a resolution: No more frivolous toys that have no real redeeming value. This is not to say that my kids probably won't get some of these; I can't control what others give them - though especially obnoxious toys immediately find their way into the donation box! But I can, however, decide what I will be spending my money on and what I will be giving my kids.

This year, I want to give gifts that will help my kids develop their literacy and skills, inspire their creativity, and boost their critical thinking abilities. I think that many people think the following:

Education Product = BORING

But they are SO wrong! And over the next few weeks I will be highlighting some of the products that I think are not only educational, but also FUN! Here are some of the ones that have made it to my list this year. Some of these have already been purchased, and others are under consideration, or awaiting my next shopping trip (minus children)...

I am not a fan of video games. In fact, I think many people waste way too much time on such nonsense, but I do think that if you monitor the amount of time your children spend on such things (30 mins or less a day, 4-5 times a week max!) AND you control the software (no violence, gracias), then there is a place for some of these products.

I have chosen the Leapster 2 because for months now, my daughter and son have made a bee-line for the sample unit on display at Target every time we go into the store. I've watched them play with it and have paid careful attention to the games they are playing. LeapFrog in general, I think, seems to have quality products. And the Leapster 2 has 40+ games available to purchase geared for children at different levels. They also cover a variety of subjects. I also like the fact that they allow parents connect online to the LeapFrog® Learning Path which allows us to see exactly what our kids are learning.

I love Legos. I think they are such a valuable tool in the classroom because they encourage creativity, ingenuity, and help to develop engineering skills and spacial concepts. I started incorporating legos into our class time last year, and I haven't regretted it. It goes such a long way towards reinforcing concepts and even helps to explain new ones. So I am VERY interested in this game, where players roll the dice to select a category (vehicles, buildings, nature or things), take a care with real pictures, and then build the item that they select while the other players try to guess what the object is. There are three levels of difficulty, so both young and old can play happily. I haven't bought this yet, but it is high on my list!

Learning Resources has so many products that I love, but I've singled this one out because right now, my kids are big on science experiements. And this set allows my kids to role-play, while performing easy experiments. It comes with all those fun science tools, plus 10 double-sided activity cards and an activity guide.

Magic Set

My daughter is currently obsessed with performing magic tricks in front of an audience. Fortunately for her, my son is the best audience (he's two years younger) and is completely amazed by her tricks - even when it is very obvious where that card appeared from! But she is getting a bit frustrated by her limited ability to think up tricks, or her lack of equipment. So I've been looking at magic sets and have found several that I am investigating:

Melissa & Doug Deluxe Magic Set - Amazing multi-piece sets feature amusing illusions and crafty slight-of-hand tricks for the young magician to practice and perform. These easy-to-learn tricks are the same ones used by professional magicians: disappearing objects; multiplying coins; magic boxes; prediction tricks; a secret change bag and more. And the wooden storage chest magically transforms into a performance table¿with a secret compartment!

Deluxe 100 Trick Magic Suitcase w/ Instructional DVD - Calling all junior houdinis! Get set to wow your audiences and amaze even yourself when you perform incredible magic tricks. Packed in this suitcase is 100 tricks that will get you started on your way to becoming a one-man show. The set includes a magic hat, magician's table, plus an easy to follow how to perform all of the magic tricks as well as written instructions. Also included are famous tricks like the cups and balls, disappearing dice, special magician's magic deck, magic drawer trick and many more. (Shown above)

You can find all of these and more over at La Librería. Just click on Educational Gifts.

Tomorrow: Bilingual and Spanish products!

Con mucho cariño...


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