November 15, 2013

Toys that Get Kids Exploring!

As a teacher, I'd often get asked about certain 'kid products' and whether or not they had any educational value. Now that I'm also a parent, I am always on the search for a fun toy or gift that will help my children develop healthy bodies and minds. 

I decided to put together a list of toys that encourage kids to learn, grow, and explore the world around them (and boy, did I have fun choosing my top ones!). 

Each week, I will share one of these lists:

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*** Click on the links to see current prices and customer reviews.

1. Snap Circuits- Follow the directions to connect these circuits and make doorbells, burglar alarms, radios, and more! Winner of Dr. Toy 100 Best Children's Products and Best Educational Products. Winner of The National Parenting Center-Seal of Approval.

2. Gears!Perfect for the small explorer! This toy teaches kids about chain reactions. We had something similar to this when I was younger and we'd spend hours creating new configurations.

3. Geocaching GPS UnitOoooo! This one is soooo cool! If you haven't heard of geocaching, here's a short summary: It's essentially a real-life treasure hunt. Folks all over the world (and most likely right in your own town) hide small objects at a certain GPS coordinate. The person who hides it then goes to and lists the GPS coordinates and any instructions on how to find it. You look up the coordinates and then use this GPS unit to find the prize! Often, folks will tell you that you can take the little prize as long as you leave a small one for the next person to find. Other times, the coordinates might lead you to an interesting landmark or to a journal that you sign saying that you found this cache.

The best part about this toy is that it gets your family outside, moving, and engaged together (from the youngest to the oldest!) Definitely a winner in my book!!

4. Magic School Bus Science Lab KitsEach Magic School Bus kit provides your child will all the materials they need to conduct an experiment (the kit shown is their Slime and Polymer Lab). These award-winning kits are based off the Magic School Bus books and dvds. (Which are awesome! Even my 3 year old learns facts from them.)

5. Walkie-TalkiesThese fellas could launch a hundred adventures. {Static} Over. Bonus: They reach over 10 miles so adults could use them on family outings too. {Static} Over.

6. Talking Trivia GlobeWe used to beg my dad to ask us trivia questions during dinner each night. I have no idea how he managed to come up with new ones, but he did! This globe would have done the job for him had it been around at the time. It asks over 10,000 trivia questions about countries and geography. How 'bout a little family geography show-down this weekend between your 5th grader and dad, huh? ;)

7. Venus Fly Trap GreenhousePerfect for boys or girls, this is a garden like no other! Grow your own mini fly-catching plants and learn a few science lessons along the way.

8. Time CapsuleHow much fun wold it be to create a time capsule about your family? You could bury it and dig it up when they graduate high school or just every 5 years to update or add to it.

9. Window Nest BoxAs soon as my little ones are old enough to know not to knock on the window and scare the living daylights out of those poor birds, we are so putting one of these at our house! :)

10. Children's MicroscopeAttention parents: I am about to throw down some purty nifty info. Ready?....The smallest things can now entertain your children for hours! (ooooh, ahhhh) How, you ask? Well, just have them stick it under the lens of this here microscope and find out what that rubberband from the celery stalks or that piece of grass from the yard look like close up. Take this one step further and purchase a journal that your child can draw their observations in. Way to go, Super Mom! :)

Check out the rest of this series for more great toy and gift ideas that are teacher recommended:

Toys That Get Kids Outside!
Toys That Get Kids Moving!
Toys That Get Kids Thinking!
Toys That Get Kids Creating!
Toys That Get Kids Reading!
Toys That Get Kids Imagining!
Toys That Get Kids Exploring!

Many of you are teachers or you have a toy you'd recommend that encourages reading?

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