It drives me crazy to watch my kids wasting time watching nonsensical videos on YouTube or playing their latest game non-stop. It’s the usual parental prerogative of trying to make sure that they are constantly learning and growing, but also remembering that it’s fine to have some fun time (conveniently forget that I spent most of my childhood on a Commodore 64 and Amiga!); as you may be able to tell, I find it difficult to strike the correct mix.
I also find it really difficult to think of gifts to buy for children (my own and in my extended family) that meet the requirements of being fun, but also informative and educational – something that you can learn from whilst playing.
Here are a list of items to suit all budgets that meet that criteria:
Primo Toys Cubetto Playset Coding Toy – £146.00 (ages 3-7)
This clever toy helps introduce your kids to coding through the use of visual blocks, and a
friend called Cubetto. It’s a really smart system that is Montessori approved, and has received various plaudits from Forbes, TechCrunch and The Guardian.
It looks like a basic wooden block toy but it is so much more, and it opens up the world of coding really effectively to your little ones at a young age.
ArcKit – prices from £16.99 – £200 (ages 10+)
This range of toys are perfect for the future architects in your life. Kids can design and build their own city or buildings with the variety of kits available. It’s a great way to combine imagination and something that they can tangibly built.
The attention to detail is outstanding, and some of the buildings remind me of the models that you expect to see from architects and planners. This is so much more than your typical block building kit!
La Belle Sauvage: The Book of Dust Volume One – Book of Dust Series – £14.99 (ages 8+)
Winner of the 2017 Waterstones Book of the Year, and part of a trilogy of works by Philip Pullman (and an accompaniment to Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy). The plot focuses on a battle for free speech and thought against a theocratic totalitarian organisation.
This first book La Belle Sauvage, is set ten years before the original trilogy. The story follows 11-year-old Malcolm Polstead, his dæmon Asta, a village girl named Alice and her dæmon Ben who become the protectors of the infant Lyra Belacqua and her daemon, Pantalaimon.
A smart read for preteens and teens who are craving an interesting book this Christmas.
Kanoodle Genius Game – £12.50 (ages 8+)
A great little stocking filler to improve critical thinking skills and spatial reasoning, by solving over 202 2D and 3D puzzles!
Superbrain Sudoku Cube – £2.49 (ages 5+)
I love this Sudoku twist on the traditional Rubik’s Cube. For just £2.49 this is sure to be a gadget passed around the table after Christmas dinner as relatives insist they know how to solve the fiendish puzzles!
Magformers 30 – £34.99 (ages 3+)
This smart 30-piece colourful set allows your little one to build unique 3D constructions (such as houses, small castles and more) and even includes a model booklet to give your budding constructors some hints and tips.
It reinforces motor skills and brain development through a number of key skills involved in the building process.
Boom Bang Fizzes Science Set – £19.99 (ages 8+)
The Boom, Bang, Fizzes set gives you everything you need to conduct some great chemistry experiments, from a film canister rocket to a jet engine balloon screamer! It’s a great way to introduce children to the world of chemistry before they move into secondary school.
Chemistry Terrarium Set – £19.99 (ages 8+)
The ideal gift for green fingered scientists. The conical flask comes complete with everything you need to create a mini ecosystem! I really like the idea that the lucky recipient of this gift will be able to watch it mature and grow, it certainly isn’t a ‘play with it on Christmas day and forget about it’ sort of gift.
Fun for the Family
Ticket to Ride Europe – £37.99 (ages 8+, 2-4 players)
Ticket to Ride Europe is a board game that takes you on an exciting train journey through the great cities of Europe at the start of the 20th century. This detailed game provides lessons in geography and history as you play. A wonderful game for Christmas night!
Sushi Go – £12 (ages 8+, 2-5 players)
A fast paced card game, and another great stocking filler that comes in a handy travel case. Can you grab the best combination of Sushi dishes as they whizz by?
ELC Little senses lights and sounds shape sorter – £20 (ages 6 months – 3 years)
ELC are one of the best known manufacturers of quality children’s toys, and this shape sorter is no different. A stimulating mix of lights, sounds and six different shapes are sure to wow your toddler and keep them amused.
Dutch Blitz – £12.80 (ages 10+, 2-4 player, extension packs available)
Dutch Blitz is a fast-paced, family oriented, action card game played with a specially printed deck. The objective of Dutch Blitz is to score points by playing as many cards as possible on Dutch Piles, and by emptying the Blitz Pile as quickly as possible. This is done by playing cards from the Blitz Pile, Post Piles, and Wood Pile on the Dutch piles.