Educational Gift Ideas – Cook Family Favorites

2015giftguideThis is going to be the final post in the Educational Gifts series, but if you are looking for some last minute gift ideas, there is still plenty of time to shop.

I’ve had a lot of fun sharing some great ideas for holiday gifts. Thus far, I’ve shared ideas for language arts, science, math, history and geography, and art inspired gifts. Today, I’d like to share some of my family’s particular favorites.

I asked my children to come up with a list of some of their favorite things with the caveat that it couldn’t be a video game. Here is what they came up with:

Board Games:

10846129_10204619322218860_7503817151783456401_nMy kids LOVE board games. We usually have a weekly game night and we often will spend weekend evenings and holidays and vacation playing extended rounds of our favorites.

  • Apples To Apples – this is probably our go to all time favorite game. It says ages 12+ on the box, but as soon as your child can read fluently, they are ready to play. And now they sell Apples to Apples Expansion Pack Card Game so the game will never get old!
  • Clue Board Game – this is another game that we’ve been playing frequently this year. We’re big fans of games that require creative thinking and logic.
  • Set: The Family Game of Visual Perception – We went through a phase a few years back of playing set on an almost daily basis. One of my twins is especially good at it. It’s very challenging, but also really fun. Especially when you’re in competition mode.
  • Bubble Talk Card Game – Similar to Apples to Apples, but instead, you have a silly picture and everyone has to come up with a caption to go along with it. This game is hilarious. You can make it even sillier by writing your own captions. Be prepared to take frequent giggle-breaks.

Movies and DVDs

The Leapfrog Series: LeapFrog: Letter FactoryLeapFrog: Talking Words Factory, LeapFrog: Learn to Read at the Storybook Factory, and  LeapFrog: Word Caper – I first got these when my twins were small, and they watched these dvds over and over. Last year I started playing them for my youngest and she loves her “Talking Frog Guys.” I use these as a fun way to reinforce phonics skills.

The Magic School Bus: The Complete Series – There was a time, when my kids were small, that Magic School Bus was the basis for our science “curriculum.” We’d watch whatever episode came on tv that day, then later we might find a book at the library or in our home library and learn a bit more. I can’t say enough great things about The Magic School Bus – Mrs. Frizzle is one of our favorite teachers.

Schoolhouse Rock! – OK, I’ll admit that this is probably more one of my husband and I’s favorites, but on occasion, my kids have enjoyed it. I like to put on specific videos to reinforce something we’re learning about.

The Scholastic Video Collection DVDs are also fantastic. It’s essentially an animated storybook – the words and illustrations are all taken directly from the text and they are very well done. Some of our personal favorites are:

 Art

10428510_10203369795381470_6656857038119656891_nMy older kids have gotten really into manga and anime over the last couple of years and one of my twins is very artistic. Here are some of his particular favorites:

Mastering Manga with Mark Crilley: 30 drawing lessons from the creator of Akiko – he carries this book around like it’s his bible. I’ve really seen his art work improve since he got this book for Christmas a year ago.  There is also a sequel (Mastering Manga 2: Level Up with Mark Crilley) which he may or may not be receiving this Christmas. 😉

He also really likes these pencils: Prismacolor Premier Soft Core Colored Pencil, Set of 23 Assorted Manga Colors and markers: Prismacolor Premier Double-Ended Art Markers, Set of 12 Assorted Manga Colors, though he’s still getting comfortable with using them.

Misc. Toys

2014-12-15 14.11.49Pokemon Trading Card Game: Legends of Justice Box – A few years back, my kids were introduced to Pokemon. They spent hours upon hours setting up their decks, playing against each other, playing with other kids at a local game shop…it was almost an obsession. It’s fizzled out some, but they still play and collect cards. I think this was the gateway into Japanese anime/manga that all three of them are really into now. This also led them to spend the last year or two creating their own game that they named Maiti-Ju (Mighty Beasts) that works fairly similarly to Pokemon. They and some of the neighbor children have spent hours working out the rules, different elements, naming the creatures, creating the cards, etc.

Safari Ltd Wild TOOB – really, any of the TOOBs are awesome. My kids love setting up all kinds of scenes with these, they are great for dioramas and such, but also just to play. My youngest loves anything small and she likes to just carry these around with her. It’s not strange to check her pockets and find 3-4 little animals tucked away in there.

If your child is a fan of the Dr. Seuss classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Classic Seuss) then they might enjoy having this cuddly Dr. Seuss The Grinch Plush.

Books

Of course, I have to mention some of our favorite books – these are “just for fun” books that my kids love.

20140812_111211Elephant and Piggie – these are just the best little books. We started reading these when one of my twins needed more reading practice but was tired of the same old readers. He fell in love with these books and now my youngest adores them as well. The best thing, we all love them. Mo Willems is a genius. He can create hilarious stories with just the illustrations and a few words. Some of our favorites (though they are ALL fantastic!):

For the older crowd:

I’ve had a lot of fun writing this series – I hope that it has been helpful to you this holiday season!

Happy Holidays!


Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 14 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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