Tag Archives: gift guide

2017 Holiday Gift Guide #3: A Little Something for the Holidays

Big things can, as the old saying goes, come in small packages. And with the Holidays almost upon us, here are some new games that fit neatly into small boxes but provide nearly endless opportunities for big fun.

Dead or Alive (Laurence King Publishing)

dead or aliveThis easy-to-play card game is like Fantasy Football, but for crime aficionados. Each of the 32 cards features one or more gangsters (including classics like Al Capone, John Dillinger, and Bonnie and Clyde, and lesser-known villains like Belle Star and Mishka Yaponchik), along with a bit of history and scores for body count, charisma, finances, rap sheet, firepower, and legacy. Play your card, and may the baddest baddie win. For ages 7+. Under $10. http://www.laurenceking.com

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Parents@Play 2016 Gift Guide #1: Make It Yourself

Where has the year gone? It seems like we just finished ushering in 2016. But here were are, already getting ready for the winter Holidays. To help you through the often-daunting task of gift buying (and giving), here’s our first Gift Guide.

Dinosaur Skull Dig (Discovery Kids)

discovery kids dinosaur digIf you have a budding archaeologist around the house, he, she, or you will have great time excavating this scale model of a T-Rex skull. The skull itself is encased in plaster, and you’ll use the included tools (a wooden mallet, paint brush, and chisel) to gently liberate it. Besides learning about how archaeologists work (including how they clean up), you’ll also learn plenty about dinosaurs from the large poster. The kit also comes with a display stand. It’s for ages 12 and up and is available for $19.99 exclusively at Michael’s. Discovery Kids also makes two other science-based kits (Rock & Gem Dig Kit and Crystal Growing Kit). https://www.michaels.com

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Parents@Play Holiday Gift Guide, Number 2

In case you hadn’t noticed (a nearly impossible feat), the end of the year, with all its associated shopping madness, is closing in. So, without further ado, here are a few more of our year-end faves.

newertech LED LampNuGreen LED Desk Lamp (NewerTech)
Since the sun goes down long before most kids get their homework done, they definitely need a good reading light. The NuGreen LED lamp is among the brightest (not to mention the sleekest and most stylish) we’ve seen. It uses 50 LEDs to produce light that’s similar to natural daylight—without generating any heat. The lamp’s flexible neck makes it easy to position the beam, and all it takes is a gentle finger touch to turn it on or off. Those LEDs draw only 3.6 watts and last up to 45,000 hours (22 times longer than traditional lightbulbs), which makes the NuGreen easy on the wallet. $49.00. http://www.newertech.com/

newertech Power2U OutletPower2U outlet (NewerTech)
Doesn’t it sometimes seem that you have more electronic devices and things to be charged than places to plug them in? Problem solved. Power2U has two traditional outlets and two USB ports, which should put an end to (or at least reduce) the number of fights over charging rights. Power2U may also help reduce your electric bill. Anything plugged into the wall—even if it’s not being used—draws a tiny bit of power (called “vampire energy draw”). Here, the USB ports are completely turned off until something is plugged in. It’s easy to install and complies with current building codes. $24.99. http://www.newertech.com/


oregon scientific Smart AnatomySmart Anatomy (Oregon Scientific)
A wonderful way for kids to learn about the human body. The main features of this kit (named Alex) are the 16 detachable body parts and the talking Smart Pen. Touch the pen to any body part and you’ll hear the names of organs and systems, how they function, sounds they make (heartbeats, etc.), weird facts, kid-friendly advice on health and nutrition, and more. Kids can also play games and conduct experiments. Great for home, school, or both. Comes with a 16-page booklet and large poster. Ages 5+. $79.99. www.oregonscientific.com

animal planet yeti playsetYeti Playset (Animal Planet)
Do the folks at Animal Planet know something we don’t? Their toys usually feature actual animals. This one, however, let’s you make up your own mind about whether one of the world’s most elusive creatures is myth or reality. Comes with a nicely articulated Yeti character, chunks of “ice” that Yeti throws, a human character (who doesn’t stand a chance against the big fella), ice cave, snowmobile, and some “fish,” which are either food for the human or Yeti bait. For ages 3+. Under $25. http://www.animalplanet.com/

zoombinisZoombinis Logical Journey (TERC, FableVision Studios and Learning Game Network)
This is, without a doubt, the most entertaining educational video game we’ve ever seen. Armin and his older kids spent hours with this game back in the 1990s and loved it. Sadly, when child number three arrived, the game was out of print and Armin’s his new computers weren’t backwards-compatible enough to run the old discs. Fortunately, those adorable little blue creatures, each with a distinct personality and features, are back—and looking almost exactly like their 20th century ancestors. The goal is simple: help the Zoombinis escape their evil captors and make their way home to Zoombiniville. To do that, you have to guide them through a series of increasingly difficult challenges that require logic, data analysis, deductive reasoning, pattern recognition, hypothesis testing, and more. It’s simply not possible to have more fun than playing with Zoombinis. Ages 6+. For Mac and PC ($9.99), Kindle Fire ($4.99), and as an iOS/Android app.

Staying Connected With the Family Gift Guide

girl who saved christmasThe Girl Who Saved Christmas (by William Thomas Thach, illustrated by Richard Bernal)
Imagine what Santa would do if all the world’s children were bad—except one? Santa decides to deliver lumps of coal to all the bad kids, and offers to shower Molly, the lone—and lonely—nice kid, with anything she could possibly want. But Molly reminds Santa of the importance of forgiveness. A sweet story that captures the essence of the Christmas Spirit. $24 at amazon.com or mollychristmas.com

gracie's nightGracie’s Night: A Hanukkah Story (by Lynn Taylor Gordon, illustrated by Laura Brown)
Gracie and her dad don’t have much money, but on her way home with sweaters, snow boots, mittens, and warm socks for pops, she sees a homeless man with holes in his shoes, wearing a threadbare coat, huddling in a cardboard box. Gracie knows exactly what to do, and comes home with empty hands and a full heart. A charming story about a different type of Hanukkah miracle. $8.50 at amazon.com

sing and swing olaf

Disney Frozen Sing and Swing Olaf
Your young one’s heart will melt when Olaf starts belting out his famous song, “In Summer,” from the hit movie, Frozen. Wearing his trademark hat and cane, Olaf also dances to the beat. Requires 3 AAA batteries (included). About $36.50 at Toys R Us, Walmart, and others.

frozen karaoke disneyDisney Frozen Flashing Lights Karaoke Machine
An easy-to-set-up, easier-to-use karaoke machine that lets you sing along with the hits from Frozen, complete with flashing lights. You can also connect your own device or use the built-in CD player to perform all of your other favorites—even some that, gasp, aren’t from Disney movies. Comes with one hand-held mic and two inputs so duets are a definite possibility. $50-80 at retailers everywhere.

renny home hubRenny HOME Smartphone Hub and Loud Wireless Ringer for Cell Phone (Olens Technology)
Never miss a phone call at home again, even if your phone is on silent, vibrate, upstairs, or in the car in your garage.  It has audible caller ID and allows you to either answer or ignore calls hands-free. Streams music from your smartphone too. $139.99 at many retailers. www.olenstechnology.com

justin power pack

Justin Power Bank (Innovative Technology)
We all know how incredibly frustrating it is when your phone or tablet dies and there’s no place to recharge it. With Justin’s power banks and power sticks, those frustrations will be a thing of the past. The one we tested had 10,000mAh, which means it’s got enough juice to completely charge a smart phone five times. It also has two outgoing ports which allow it to charge two devices at the same time, all using standard- and micro USB. Great for the family on the go. Prices vary depending on capacity.

d-link range extenderD-Link DAP-1320 Wireless Range Extender (D-Link)
Plug this sleek device into a regular outlet within range of your router, and with one click, you’ve just extend the range of your home network—even to those hard-to-reach areas like basements, upstairs bedrooms, or outdoor areas. This way, you’ll be able to web-surf, play games, watch movies, or text the kids who are all the way on the other side of the house (or room).  About $25 at retailers everywhere. us.dlink.com/

cell phone jailCell Phone Jail
This is more of a metaphor than an actual product. We urge you to join with Foresters (a financial services company) to take the Tech Timeout challenge and give your family a daily one-hour break from all things electronic. After all, what better gift could you give to your family (and yourself) than some undivided attention. Download the pledge form at techtimeout.com/#anchor_pledgewall