Dr. Toy's 20 Under $20 Best Kids Gifts and Stocking Stuffers
Having fun this holiday season just got easier with Dr. Toy providing perfect plaything ideas for gifts that provide good times and learning.
These best products, selected from the many dozens evaluated on Dr. Toy's Guide, are great gifts to be considered by every parent and grandparent. These are terrific and affordable gifts that will help children gain skills and confidence in a wide variety of subject areas that will benefit them in school.
The range of activities includes science, math, history, biology, language, and creativity, and, of course, games and puzzles for everyone in the family to enjoy. Included are banks to make and decorate, puppets and space figures to play with, and projects that are lots of fun to create together.
Included are 20 gift ideas under $20 that will help to light up everyone's holiday spirit and have lasting value into the new year. For more details and selections go to www.drtoy.com and also visit company's websites.
1. ALEX. 2 Birdie Banks. $13.95. 6-9 yrs. www.alextoys.com.
2 Birdie Banks™ is a new activity kit in the ALEX Eco Crafts series. Kids can save their money and help to save the planet! This all-in-one environmentally-friendly craft kit lets kids create 2 bird-shaped banks out of recycled paper molds. It comes with 2 makeshift banks (fashioned from recycled paper) that kids can outfit with coin slots and lids before decorating them with colorful squares. Kids can easily affix the paper tape with glaze and wait a while for their creation to dry. Includes sponge brush.
2. b. dazzle. Bald Eagles Scramble Squares® 9-Piece Puzzle. $8.95. 4-12 yrs. www.b-dazzle.com.
Provides an appropriately awe inspiring depiction of this majestic symbol of the United States and America's national bird. The Bald Eagle is unique to North America and is among the largest birds in North America, growing from 29" to 42" long, weighing 7 to 15 lbs., and possessing a dramatic wingspan of 6' to 8'. Females are larger than the male Bald Eagles. The Bald Eagle is listed as a "threatened" species in the lower 48 states. The object of the puzzle game is to arrange the nine colorfully illustrated 4" x 4" square pieces into a 12" x 12" square so that the realistic graphics on the pieces' edges match perfectly to form completed pictures in every direction. Each puzzle package includes a panel of fascinating facts on the subject of the puzzle, trivia question and hidden answers. Over 140 styles on nature, sports, history, culture, occupations, fantasy, science, technology, hobbies and activities.
3. Bag-O-Loot. Bag-O-Loot Junior. $9.99. 6-12 yrs. www.bag-o-loot.com.
Deal the cards and follow the steps. Nothing complicated, but once you take the first set of cards from another player the whole family is hooked. There are a couple of different variations of the game to keep it interesting for all ages. One variation is called "Cooperative Play" where players work together to try to end the round with each player having the exact same score. Works in the classroom as each team competes with other teams to mix cooperation with competition. The game pieces come in a signature drawstring bag for travel and camping. The cards are colorful using picture, letter, and word recognition as players create sets of matching cards called "collections." Once you have five of a kind, you create a Bag-O-Loot and it can no longer get taken by any other player. Families and friends spend time together when they play as it's fun to play with not just one victory at the end of the game.
4. Blue Orange Games. Chef Cuckoo. $14.99. 7-12 yrs. www.blueorangegames.com.
Step into the kitchen to find out if your daily special will impress the judge. Using a selection of ingredient cards, players concoct creative dishes to meet a food challenge selected by the judge. Chefs may have to create the most unappetizing dish as well as the tastiest! The judge awards stars to the chef whose dish best matches the food challenge. In this game, all players have the opportunity to act as chef and judge. For more advanced play, chefs can persuade the judge to vote for their specials. Chefs think of a name and entertaining description for their dish. After a presentation, the judge casts a final vote. The game is a delightful way to expose kids to the fundamentals of cooking. Each ingredient card features caloric information to help build awareness of appropriate serving sizes and encourage healthy eating habits. Playing the game is a great way to learn about food preferences of family and friends as all ages show talents while they whip up winning additions to game menu.
5. Colorforms/University Games. Tinga Tinga Tales Create-A-Creature Game. $13.98. 3-8 yrs. www.colorforms.com.
Colorforms, an iconic play product, once again brings classic play to life. using African artwork from the loveable Disney Junior TV Show, Tinga Tinga Tales™, players use their imagination to tell stories about the unique creatures they create. So 2 to 4 players can take turns spinning the wheel to see which body part to select from 32 pieces. When all players have collected a pair of legs, a tail, a head, and two ears and arranged them on a scene card, players take turns telling imaginative stories about how their creatures were created. Every generation will enjoy playing with the reusable pieces as they bring to life never before seen animals. Once the hilarious creatures are formed, the game promotes imagination and creativity through the story each player tells about the new animal. The stories of how each animal came to be change every time as numerous animal combinations are created.
6. Creativity for Kids/Faber-Castell. Stunt Squadron. $18. 5-12 yrs. www.fabercastell.com.
Stunt Squadron is a new customized fleet of five durable foam planes with color-in stickers, markers, and metallic accents. The soft-but tough-foam bodies are easy to assemble with a wingspan that measures seven inches. This cool kids craft and activity kit is perfect for both indoor and outdoor play. Faber-Castell is a manufacturer of varied activity kits and products for children.
7. Discover with Dr. Cool. Learn How to Pan for Gold! $19.95. 6-12 yrs. www.discoverwithdrcool.com.
Learn How to Pan for Gold with this unique hands-on science kit! With this product your treasure hunter will learn how to pan for gold just like a real gold miner. This kit includes a 10" prospector's pan and two bags of "pay dirt" with pyrite or fool's gold nuggets inside, one large chunk of fool's gold to add to your rock collection, mining tools, and a nugget storage bag. This kit also includes a full-color information guide, which will teach your child all about gold and how to pan for gold in your own backyard. Plus there's an activity booklet with 10 fun games, puzzles, and challenges to complete. This product is made by Discover with Dr. Cool, an educational science company created in 2009 by the husband and wife team of Jordan and Katie Willing. The science line is all about the thrill of adventure, something that drives all scientific discoveries.
8. DreamBox Learning. DreamBox Learning Math. $12.95. 5-10 yrs. www.dreambox.com.
A major new expansion of the rigorous online K-3 mathematics curricula. The latest version features more than 100 new lessons for a total of over 600 lessons aligned to the Common Core State Standards, including in-depth fractions coverage for third and fourth grades, and added virtual manipulatives for K-5. This innovative program adds extensive coverage of fourth grade curriculum while the third grade curriculum has doubled in size. It offers virtual manipulatives with online versions of physical objects students use in the classroom to explore math concepts and demonstrate what they know so teachers can easily gauge students' comprehension. Building a rich learning environment motivates students to persist. As a result, they take ownership of learning, and will more frequently persevere, and succeed. For younger learners themes such as pixies, pirates, and dinosaurs, and it offers age-appropriate personalization and motivation elements to appeal to students.
9. DuneCraft. Butterfly & Bird Mixture Seed Bombs. $4.99. 3-5 yrs. www.dunecraft.com.
Drop a bomb and get plants growing and easily attract butterflies and birds. Seeds are encapsulated in red clay and peat moss ball with the diameter roughly of a quarter. This keeps the seeds moist and protects them from birds, animals, and insects. Toss them into an empty or neglected lot. You can toss them, crush them, or leave them. Then water and they will grow. They are safe and proudly made in the United States with top quality ingredients. Once a sufficient amount of rain has accumulated on the ground, the seeds inside will begin to sprout. They will sprout about a week after being hydrated and will grow to cover a square foot each. They are easy to sprout with a little water and can last for years. The earliest records of Seed Bombs date back to the 1930s and are widely promoted by natural farming as a method of propagation. Whether it's a crack in the pavement or a vacant lot add life to any forgotten spot.
10. Edupress. Mathological Liar Games. $11.99. 8-12 yrs. www.highsmith.com.
Students will love becoming math detectives. Players earn points for solving math mysteries in this entertaining and educational game. In each round, players read about a crime committed and each player receives a suspect's alibi. Players must determine whether the math in their suspect's alibi is correct or not. If the math is correct, the suspect is innocent; if the math is incorrect, the suspect is guilty of the crime. Each game requires players to use multiple grade-level math skills. Includes 40 math mysteries. The game can be played with 2-4 players and includes ideas for turning the game into a quick-and-easy math center. Set contains 200 cards and directions. Edupress has been providing teachers with quality educational materials for more than 30 years and helps busy educators bring fun and excitement to the classroom.
11. Fashion Angels Enterprises. Tapeffiti Tote Kit. $13.99. 8-12yrs. www.fashionangels.com.
A fashion craft kit to decorate the tote bag with 6 mini tape dispensers with different colors and patterns, 6 replacement rolls and a style design guide with more than 2 dozen other project ideas, including tape bracelets, picture frames, pens or pencils, and pen/pencil containers. (Comes in Barbie too). Also sold separately are 4 or 6 roll collection of Tapeffiti tapes in various designs, patterns, and colors. Color tapes for decorating is one of the hottest personal style trends for teens and tweens. Included are a full size tote bag and 6 mini tape dispensers with assorted colors and patterns.
12. Find It! Games. Pieces of History™ Pharaoh's Egypt Puzzle. $13.00 8-12yrs. www.finditgames.com.
Puzzles provide a wonderful opportunity for families to share time together. Find It has broadened its game line to horizontal play after years of success with vertical adventures. The puzzle series, Pieces of History, targets a significant event familiar to children and adults. Once the pieces are put in place, the history-themed puzzles offer an instant lesson to players as they read the parchment-like list of hidden items. In the Pharaoh's Egypt puzzle, one item to uncover is the Eye of Horus. Ancient Egypt is vividly portrayed in this 300-piece puzzle artwork commissioned from painter Rachel Land. A day in the life of the Egyptians along the Nile of Pharaoh's time becomes a second game once the pieces are in place. Look around the border or deep inside the scene to "find it" – a list of 40 Egyptian items from sandals, sword, necklace, wine jar, and pottery to animals like cobra, crocodile, leopard, jackals, and monkey. Instead of putting the pieces back in the box for another day, you can consider framing the historic scene.
13. Folkmanis. Little Puppets. $13.00. 3-12yrs. www.folkmanis.com.
These "Little Puppets" are especially sized for younger children and have the same attention to detail that you have come to expect from these high quality puppets. A little price also makes these delightful puppets highly collectible. Movable mouth and forelegs make for a delightful soft and playful friend made by this premier natural puppetmaker. The puppets are perfect pets as they encourage singing, talking and sharing secrets. A puppet is the perfect playmate for all ages and is especially good for the child when on travel anywhere as it is soft and easy to pack and play with. Add the puppet when you are reading to your child to add extra fun to storytime.
14. Gamewright. Scrambled States of America Game. $15.99. 8-12 yrs. www.gamewright.com.
Find a state that ends with the letter A. Now find one that borders Tennessee. Have fun learning about the United States in this fast paced game of observation and quick reflexes. Collect state cards by matching them to a Scramble challenge. Or "Go the Distance" and find a state's closest neighbor. Win the most cards and call yourself the Head of States! While playing, learn the names, capitals, nicknames, shapes, and locations of the states through a myriad of visual teasers, language riddles, and geography challenges. New deluxe edition of this best-selling game features new art, new challenges, and a copy of The Scrambled States of America book by Laurie Keller.
15. Green Toys. Salad Set. $19.99. 2-12 yrs. www.greentoys.com.
Watch healthy eating habits sprout with the fresh and fun Salad Set! Toss up lettuce and veggies and top with a dash of dressing or salt and pepper for the greenest salad around. In this 20-piece stackable set, each realistic part is made in the USA from food-safe, 100% recycled plastic milk containers that save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Sized for Green Toys kitchen sets and play food products, the Salad Set includes a serving bowl, salad plate, 2 serving utensils, 3 lettuce leaves, 3 sets of cucumbers, 2 tomatoes, 2 red peppers, onions, mushrooms, and fold-your-own oil and vinegar cruets and salt and pepper shakers. No BPA, phthalates, PVC or external coatings. Meets FDA food contact standards. Dishwasher Safe.
16. Kaleidograph Design. Kaleidograph. $12.99. 4-12 yrs. www.redhenllc.com.
This is an elegantly simple, colorful tool for making geometric patterns that can be arranged into billions of designs by shuffling, rotating and flipping the 9 die-cut cards and 3 color backer cards. Like a paper kaleidoscope, each change reveals and surprises, and allows children to creatively explore the symmetry of crystals and flowers. It offers the "Power of Design in the Palm of Your Hand" and is available in two versions, Crystal and Flora. The Crystal set takes its name from the straight-line crystalline patterns it produces, while the Flora set uses curved lines to create rich floral designs. Made in the USA from earth-friendly materials, it appeals to a wide age range, works anywhere, and is an excellent travel toy. Developed by Norman Brosterman, author of "Inventing Kindergarten," and Scott Bultman, founder of Froebel USA, the Kaleidograph upholds the tradition of the original Froebel Kindergarten system that is known to have influenced Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, Charles Eames, and design education at the Bauhaus.
17. Learning Journey. Puzzles in Motion-Click It! Dino. $12.99. 3-12 yrs. www.tlji.com.
Click It! puzzles take the concept of a traditional puzzle and blend it with popular technology. Each puzzle in the Click It! series includes a 24-piece beautifully illustrated "talk about" table puzzle that measures 24" x 18". First the child assembles the puzzle. Once complete, the child can use any smart phone or tablet to read the QR barcodes that will display a video playing an exciting animation of the puzzle just assembled. After assembling the puzzle, turn it over for a fun coloring activity (crayons not included). Provides children with high tech ways to discover and learn with this all-in-one product.
18. Metamorphic Toys. Everythingland Mailbox with Eco-Art U-Stick'ems Kit. $19.95. 2-12 yrs. www.metamorphictoys.com.
This art project and toy in one invites creative expression and imaginative pretend play. The toy is open-ended and encourages interactive play and communication based play. The Mailbox is a blank canvas for children to express themselves creatively. Though it is a recognizable object, the mailbox is such a familiar prop that the possibilities for decorating it are limitless. Mailboxes can be decorated like the earth, animals, school bus, the ocean, barn yard, forest, outer space and various other motifs and abstract creations. The sturdy grade of cardboard also allows for a wide range of arts and crafts materials to be used. It may be colored with crayons, markers or various paints. The options are almost limitless. Once the decorating is done the fun has just begun because the mailbox functions as a toy capable of handling most standard mail. Children love to play pretend mail games, but children learning to read may use the mailbox as a focal point for family or school communication. When a parent or grandparent writes a letter and puts it into the mailbox, the child is excited and wants to read the letter. In the hands of a child the mailbox isn't limited to post office games and letter writing.
19. Rubbabu. Charles the Airplane. $19.95. 6 mos.-6 yrs. www.rubbabu.com.
This special assortment of 8 fuzzy, colorful, durable, safe, and fun toy vehicles include a plane, car, fire engine, and bus. They are the perfect size for little ones to grab onto. With all the different colors and shapes they provide endless hours of pretend play and story telling. Rubbabu toys are made of soft, squishy rubber foam, which is organic, hypo-allergenic, and completely biodegradable. They are covered with the brightest, best-quality Swiss flock for a surface your child will enjoy playing with. This is a safe, durable and fun toy for preschoolers to enjoy at home and on travel. They are also available as a Little Vehicle Assortment B and the wonderful new Shape Sorter Bus.
20. Wild Republic. Galaxy Quest. $15. 6-12 yrs. www.wildrepublic.com.
Wild Republic is encouraging space exploration and fun facts through its new Galaxy Quest action activity figure set. The sets, which each contain a highly detailed astronaut action figure, space themed vehicle, and tools, are all packaged with different booklets containing NASA facts. Good for space activity and learning.
©2012 Stevanne Auerbach, PhD., Dr. Toy., San Francisco, CA.
Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D. /Dr.Toy
San Francisco, CA