With all the gifts kids get over the holidays and for birthdays, some will need to write some thank you notes. What better way to make said chore more fun than by doing so with a set of quality Color Technik Glitter Gel Pens (about $13). The ink flows smoothly, dries quickly, and has sparkles that enhances the color. In this set of 30 glitter gel pens, there is a variety of lively colors to choose from. The ink and glitter shows up well on dark pages as well as light, and is great for grown-up coloring books, posters, or just writing notes. They are easy to color with, outline, or just for writing to-do lists or for doodling. Color Technik is a reliable brand, and these easy-to-grip glitter gel pens don’t clump or bleed. Customers agree that these last longer than similar pens from other brands. The Color Technik set of 30 Glitter Gel Pens is a great set to add for any kid who enjoys getting artsy every once in a while.
Kids don’t have much exposure to the variety of knots there are beyond how to tie their shoes. There is so much more to learn, and having a good picture guide of knots to reference helps make that happen. That’s where My First Book of Knots: A Beginner’s Picture Guide (under $10) comes in,
What this book covers
In this book, authors Berndt Sundsten and Jan Jager cover several useful knots, and indicating the appropriate situation and application for each one, which is just as important as learning the knots themselves. When looking for a picture guide of knots, large and color is better. In this book, the illustrations are large, colored, and clear – with appropriate shading so it’s easy to tell where the rope or string should go behind or in front of other parts of the rope.
Regarding the book’s title
As a parent, I cannot help but feel like the book title, ‘My First Book of Knots’, would make me a bit cautious to want to pick it up. The phrasing ‘My First Book of whatever‘ is reminiscent of toddler books that have similar names. Despite that, the book’s material is meant for older kids – as young as 7-year-olds up to 12-year-olds (honestly there is no cap – even adults like this book). If kids find this picture guide of knots interesting, then perhaps they will seek out additional books, but it certainly isn’t a mere introduction – there are a good number of knots covered in this book alone. That said, the book succeeds as a gift to kids in teh 7-12 year range despite the title.
Application of knots
The need for a knots come up in all sorts of situations, and in many times in unpredictable ones. Many people like to know knots for fishing, boating, and camping, but it isn’t limited to those heavily involved in outdoor activities, and knowing how to tie a knot can come in handy in emergency situations. Other applications includes: tying shoes, tying two short ropes together to make one long one, making a bead bracelet, making a sling, tie a bundle of sticks together, or lifting and carrying buckets.
Why a picture guide of knots makes a good gift for a kid
The draw in presenting a kid with a picture guide of knots is that there is an inherent challenge to want to make each knot. And once kids learn how to make various knots, they’ll look for opportunities to put their learning into practice. It’s also a handy skill (literally and figuratively), and could prove useful in a variety of ways. Consider combining this gift with some paracord or other rope to encourage practicing knots.
One might be tempted to describe the Ripstik Ripster caster board as a mix between a skateboard and inline skates, but that wouldn’t really capture how much fun it is. The Ripstick Ripster, like the Ripstik Classic, has a back half and front half, each with one wheel. The board can swivel a bit at this connection, allowing the rider to flex the board and create forward momentum without feet ever needing to touch the ground.
How easy is the Ripstik Ripster to ride?
One might think it’s tricky to ride one of these, but this site’s author has some experience watching a certain 9-year-old take to it fairly quickly. The first 20 minutes were using a wall to balance next to a driveway that had a very gradual slope going downhill. Did the slope make it harder? No – the opposite. Having a little momentum made it easier to learn to balance instead of learning how to make it go. Kind of like riding a bike – after going forward you learn how to keep balance.
Wouldn’t this slip?
The nice thing about the two swivel wheels on the Ripstick Ripster is that the wheels are pretty grippy. A cautious parent’s active imagination might picture this board slipping out from underneath the kid, but it isn’t long before that idea is proved false. Although I’m sure there are accidents that can happen with this as any other riding toy, and it certainly shouldn’t be ridden over a wet surface, it’s not as prone to slippage as what a parent might be fearful of at first glance.
What’s the difference between the Ripstik Ripster and Ripstik Classic?
In addition to being cheaper, the Ripster has a shorter wheelbase, and is good for riders with a narrower stance (such as younger kids).
How easy is it to dismount?
Kids generally find their own natural way of dismounting with a little practice. See the video below to see one way of doing it if at the right speed. To stop the Ripstik Ripster, kids find a way to just ‘step off’.
Here is a demonstration of a nine-year-old son of this site’s author getting on the Ripstik, riding around the carport doing quick turns, followed by a dismount:
The Ripstik Ripster is a great gift for a kid that already enjoys riding toys like skateboards, skates, and bikes.
With a built-in easy-to-grasp slidable eraser that makes it easy for kids to get a blank slate to play with, the Fisher-Price Doodle Pro magnetic drawing board (~$19) is a re-writable writing and drawing board that comes with a magnetic stylus and shapes.
The Doodle Pro magnetic drawing board may sound a lot like another product called the Magna Doodle. They are similar, as once Magna Doodle was sold by Fisher Price. Now that it’s no longer sold by Fisher-Price, Fisher-Price started producing its own alternative called the Doodle Pro. They basically work the same way.
The Doodle Pro magnetic drawing board makes for a great toy, and kids love to draw and erase with it over and over again. However, a big part of the Doodle Pro’s usefulness is that a magnet drawing board makes a great teaching tool for young kids. It can be used for quick minute lessons that can fit any learning level.
Magnetic drawing board as a teaching tool
For a 3-year old (or even 2-year-old if you feel your child can do it) draw a picture of circle and square on the Doodle Pro. Hold it up and ask “Which one is the circle? Which one is the square?” Have the child point to the board. Erase and repeat with more variations of shapes as they get better at identifying them. Give them positive reinforcement for getting the answers right.
Once they are good at identifying the shape, also work on having them say the name of the shape on their own, like so: Draw one shape on the Doodle Pro magnetic drawing board and ask the child “What is this shape called?” Have them say “circle” or “triangle”. Again, give them positive reinforcement, like saying “Great job!”.
As the child gets older, instead shapes, use letters and numbers. Start out by drawing two letters on the Doodle Pro board and ask “Which one is the ‘o’? Which one is the ‘t’?”, and have the child point. Erase and repeat with new letters. Letters can be overwhelming, so go easy and start slow, and make sure to include easy ones like ‘O’ and ‘X’ pretty often at first.
What is harder is recalling the name of the letter, so also do lessons where you draw a letter on the Doodle Pro and ask “What letter is this?”.
Once children get close to age 5 they can start learning sight words, so doing the above with real words, like “and”, “the”, and “me”, will help them get better at identifying sight words, and strengthening reading skills.
Also, children will find themselves wanting to draw the shapes, letters, numbers, and words, too, and let them ‘turn the tables’ on you by having them play the teacher, by drawing out the lesson themselves on the Doodle Pro magnetic board, and you the student. Let that happen – teaching others has proven an effective way to solidify learning.
Have you ever wondered how magnetic drawing boards work?
You likely knew there were magnets, but what else is involved?
The display is a piece of plastic that seals honeycomb cells of a thick white liquid and magnetic particles. The magnetic particles are pulled through the white-dyed liquid when a magnet pulls them to the front of the display. The magnetic particles are very fine and light in weight, while the liquid is purposefully thick, therefore preventing the magnetic particles from falling to bottom of the cell. The sliding eraser is actually a magnet as well, pulling the particles to the back of the cell and therefore all the player sees is the while liquid again.
The Doodle Pro magnetic drawing board is an fun drawing and learning tool, requires no batteries, and can be used in different ways through the different stages of childhood. While the magnetic shapes might get lost, the magnetic stylus is attached via string and so it will always be usable. The ability to erase is just as satisfying as drawing with this durable toy. The Doodle Pro magnetic drawing board is a good gift for a kid.
The approachability of an acoustic guitar makes it a great gift idea for teens no matter if they’ve ever had a music lesson, and no matter what kinds of music they are interested in. At $200, the Fender Squier Acoustic Guitar Bundle is a superb deal for a quality product. Everything needed to get started is included: the guitar, a case, a stand, strap, tuner, extra strings, picks, and instructional media. Right out of the box, it’s set to go.
The guitar is the type of instrument that can reward even the smallest of efforts (relatively to the violon, for instance). As many rock songs use a basic three chord progression, someone can literally be covering and creating songs within the first hour. As someone seeks to master the guitar, so too are they learning about new music styles and cultures. If someone takes lessons (or looks online for free ones), suddenly kids born in the 21st century are getting exposure to the Beatles, Santana, and Led Zeppelin.
Even though the learning curve isn’t steep, we wouldn’t recommend guitars for kids younger than teens. The ability to stretch hands around the neck of the guitar to pinch strings just right for chords can be tough and frustrating for smaller hands – it’s more suitable for older kids/teens whose arms and hands can handle an adult instrument.
A guitar encourages focus, can be a nice introduction to the vocabulary in music, and serves as a social bridge when getting to know new people. It can also boost self-esteem and help kids practice patience. These are all invaluable things particularly for kids in the teenage years. And over time, this gift can lead to supplemental presents like guitar chord songbooks for the favorite bands.
When was the last time a kid thought a plain white t-shirt would be a fun? With the Jacquard Tie Dye Kit ($16), that t-shirt is a blank canvas just waiting for a bright and striking display of color to be applied. The Jacquard Tie Dye Kit comes with an instructional video, color dyes, gloves, rubber bands and soda ash dye fixer. The video shows how to make a variety of designs, and the quality of the dyes result in vibrant colors that remain vivid even after multiple washings. Tie dye is a process, so this isn’t something that can get thrown together within a single afternoon birthday party, but it still can be good activity for families and friends who are already staying together. While this kit contains all the tie dye materials, there are other things needed for the process: drop cloth or plastic for the ground, a bucket deep enough to dip shirts in, and another plastic bag to sit for a day (instructions call for 12 to 24 hours). This is a one-of-a-kind activity that is memorable as much as it is wearable. Because each result is unique, a tie dye kit gives opportunity for kids to personalize their creation. And though there are suggested designs in the instructions, there is no right or wrong way to do it – try different designs and see how they a turn out. As for quality, the Jacquard brand tends to give a more favorable impression of than other brand tie dye kits. Even though targeted towards shirts, the tie dye kit can be used with other things such as pillow cases, socks, or napkins. Kids of all ages can have fun doing the steps and getting a cool shirt out of it, but its best for older children and/or grownups to supervise the steps. Tie dye kits are a good gift for a kid.
Considered the preschool version of the classic card game Uno, Uno Moo ($15) Uno Moo is a fun farm animal spin on an old favorite. By matching pieces by type (various farm animals) or color, kids learn to categorize a piece in two different ways, and try to be the first to get rid of all their figures. And of course, much like the original card game, the player who is down to one piece has to yell “Uno moo!”, which is an irresistible hook to keep attention invested in the game. The cute Uno Moo game pieces are perfect sizes for little ones to hold, and the rules are simple to understand.
Uno Moo game play is fairly fast, which should help with anyone learning how to take turns. Keep your pieces behind haystack to keep others from seeing what you have. Everyone draws pieces from the barn, and the youngest player gets to kick off the first turn by placing one of their pieces in the barn door first. The next player checks to see if they have a piece with the same animal or the same color, and plays their piece on the barn door next, pushing the piece originally on the barn door back into the barn. Then it’s the next person’s turn.
There is also a bit of technique to playing the farmer (which is like playing a wild card), as well as penalty points like playing the skunk. Although with younger players you can just skip over those rules to simplify things even more if it’s too challenging. The first player to play all their pieces is the winner. Then you’ll find the remaining players wants to see who could finish next – although I think all players just look for their opportunity to shout “Uno moo!” too.
For older kids who might benefit from the challenge of a more grown-up brain teaser, you may try introducing the hobby of lock picking. Believe it or not, this is a legitimate hobby that many enthusiasts enjoy and find fun to do. For the curious tinker type, lock-picking can be an engaging hobby with a bit of a brow-raising factor when the topic is mentioned (although it may be best to not mention it, more on that later). One just needs a few things to get started:
- A good starter lock picking set with a modest variety of tools. From the lockpickshop.com, this 14-piece beginners lock pick set ($28) is a good choice as a lock pick set for kids.
- Additionally, the lock picker hobbyist needs some practice locks. If you have some old key-driven padlocks, or an old piece of door hardware no longer needed, those can make a nice start to dabble with. Many hobbyists end up collecting a variety of practice locks as they go. As obviously you won’t want to practice on your, or your neighbor’s, front door. Which leads us to the next item…
- A set of rules. Lock picking can be a fun hobby, but requires some responsibility and boundaries. In addition to not doing something illegal, be clear that the practice locks are the only things that should be used, as locks can become damaged by the novice hobbyist. Also, it’s likely best not to brag too much about having such abilities, as it can understandably signal some alarms if parents of friends find out that this is your kid’s new hobby.
- A lock pick set is only good if you know how to use it, so a nice starter book like Practical Lock Picking would be a good complimentary item to round out the gift.
Combine the lockpick set with a guide!
I can’t stress that last bullet strong enough. A proper and thorough guide is a great companion to a lockpick set. We’ve looked through several options for books for lockpicking, and we feel Practical Lock Picking is the best. A great companion for a lockpicking set.
A lock pick set is a pretty unique gift – you can likely count on someone not already have one. Also, this type of gift shows the child that he is trusted, and is perceived as a responsible person, which is important to reinforce with younger teens. Obviously, you’d only want to give such a gift if you really do feel like the child can partake of the hobby in a responsible manner.
And yes, the skill may actually come in handy one day.
This particular Southord 14-piece lock picking set comes is a quality set for the price, and is a top seller at lockpickshop.com. It consists of 10 picks and 4 torsion wrenches, and a leather pouch to keep them in. We’ve personally given all things listed above to a 13-year-old in the family, and it was extremely well-received.