Uno Moo Game

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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.

Lock Pick Set for Kids

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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, 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!

practical lock picking book

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.

Check out the book

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 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.

Zoom, Zoom, Baby! flap book

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Lift-the-flap books make reading time for engagement for little ones, and a great book to add to the collection is Zoom, Zoom, Baby! ($6) by Karen Katz.

Reading with little children is one of the best activities one can start at an early age. Kids at 6 months are into playing peek-a-boo style games, and a lift-the-flap book reinforces the idea of this type of discovery. Flap books are sturdy so that little hands of this age are getting used to grasping items, and flap books are very hands-on and built for kdis to play with.

When reading with younger kids, ask questions about what is on the page. Point and say thing appropriate for the book. For this one, “Do you think the baby is in here?” Then when lifting the flap… “No! It’s a funny bunny!”. Exaggerate your voice to make book reading more engaging. Point out other things on the page – “See the wheels? What color is the sky?”. The illustrations in Zoom, Zoom, Baby! are inviting, friendly, and funny. Point to them and talk about them, while also calling attention to the words that you’re reading.

With Zoom, Zoom, Baby!, vocabulary related to travel (‘car’, ‘boat’, ‘bus’, and ‘train’) can be reinforced to the kids. Obviously they won’t walk away knowing exactly what this item is, but the more they see it and hear the parent name it, the quicker kids pick up on what names these items have. Babies likely have some of these toys already, and associating objects with the same name—”This is a bus, and look – you have a toy bus, too!”—can stimulate intellectual growth.

In summary, reading with children is one of the best activities for kids and parents. An appropriate-age book, like the Zoom, Zoom, Baby! flap book for older babies and young toddlers, is a good gift for kids.

Personal Finance for Teens

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Not a single adult has ever looked back at their handling of money and thought, “Yep, I did it just right – there is no room for improvement.” Instead, there is likely a strong desire to magically return to your teenage self and drop the wisdom to start saving more, spending less, staying debt-free, and building up investments. Though we cannot travel back to a younger version of ourselves, we can help the next generation by passing on the knowledge found in The Complete Guide to Personal Finance: For Teenagers ($16), as it’s one of those subjects that teens cannot learn about soon enough.

Kids in the tween/teen years are exploring their independence, and being mindful of what it’s going to take to survive. Money management is a key factor here. Twelve year olds are thinking of how can they buy their own iPads or video games, mid-teens are thinking about getting the car they hope to drive, and older teens are thinking about how to pay for college. Do I need to get a job? A savings account? A loan? It’s crucial that teens learn about personal finance before they get approached with credit card offers the moment they step onto a college campus, and this book a great introduction to personal finance for teens.

In addition to the warnings about falling into debt as soon as they are legally able to, this book also touches on personal banking, budgeting, taxes, and just all around being fiscally responsible. The author (Tamsen Butler) has a very approachable and informative voice. Learning about personal finance for teens can be a tricky thing to approach by a parent, as the parent may – as much as they might not want to admit it – have a habit of talking down their kids, or feel a tendency to dangle the fact that the kid has been financially supported by the parent for their entire life. Whether or not that’s the case, Butler’s book encourages kids to bring the topic up to parents, so allowing the kids to learn from another source, such as this book, may be a nice way to introduce the topic into discussions at home. When it comes for a good gift for teens, fiscal responsibility tops the charts.

Quadrilla Vertigo Marble Railway

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If you are looking for a good quality gift for a five- to seven-year-old, the Quadrilla Vertigo Marble Railway ($124) wooden marble run is dizzying fun. The Vertigo set, like the other Quadrilla sets, provides a collection of interchangeable pieces for creating marble runs in many configurations. Kids will enjoy assembling marble paths from the curved wood tracks, funnels, and an assortment of blocks made from high quality natural wood, with each configuration changing the marble’s path. With add-ons available from other Quadrilla wooden marble run sets, this set will be a repeat favorite for multiple kids in the same household, and even multiple generations.

Marble run construction sets allow kids to exercise logic, math, and physics on a basic level. They realize “to make the marble run this way, I need to add another block to this tower”. Especially when wanting to build their own marble run maze, they will strategize and reason when planning out the run. This type of toy rewards being constructive, as they will want to build the biggest track, using the most pieces, as they can. While friends will want to play with it, too, a wooden marble run constructive toy is also good for independent play, as kids can guide their creations and control their own pace. This type of play is quite important for kids’ development.

The Quadrilla marble run sets are a well-crafted series of toys, easily approachable by kids as young as five, and provide an outlet for creating and problem solving. It’s a simple toy that makes kids want to challenge their own limitations. They will be proud to show off their ingenuity in assembling their own marble railway.

Lace & Trace Shapes lacing set

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For both boys and girls in the two-year-old, three-year-old, and four-year-old age range, a neat gift would be the Melissa & Doug Lace and Trace Shapes ($13) lacing set. It consists of a set of different types of painted shapes in the package – all made from sturdy and durable card material – that have punched holes in them, and a variety of colorful shoe string-like laces that can be run through the holes in whatever fashion the child desires. Kids in this range are learning about patterns, as well as practicing the motor dexterity of maneuvering these laces in and out of the holes. It’s a good opportunity to reinforce recognizable shapes and colors, to talk about sewing, introduce the idea of tying shoes, and encourage the concept of making a pattern. Melissa and Doug products are known to be quality products with a trusted playability with children.

Chicco Sit 'N Ride Train indoor riding toy

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An indoor riding toy with lots of sounds, colors, things for little hands to tinker with – the Chicco Sit ‘N Ride Train ($54) can be hard to resist. When my son had a similar riding toy, he would push it and pull it everywhere, and press all the various buttons to make sounds, and really loved getting things in and out of the storage compartment under the seat. This is especially lots of fun for the 12-18 month range – great for kids to practice their walking, and older ones in the 18-month range can practice getting on and off the seat. At different stages they may have more fun doing different things (pushing it vs riding it), but even for ones just learning to pull themselves up, they will find the buttons on the steering wheel a rewarding activity. My kids even played with theirs up until they were over three years old (although not ideal new gift for that particular age range). It’s smaller than most outdoor riding toys, so it’s relatively gentle for indoor play. The batteries really last a while as well.

Book Safe

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Even if there isn’t much to hide, there is certainly a novel (ahem) coolness with owning a Book Safe ($14) from Southwest Specialty Products. Made from a real hardback book (title would vary), it’s a pretty inconspicuous spot for the built-in hidden compartment. Likely kids wouldn’t hide anything at all, as it would be hard to resist showing it off to friends. And perhaps instill a desire for them to take a second look at their parent’s bookshelves!

Kids going through middle childhood are starting to grow a bit independent from their parents, and since parents are likely to be the ones encouraging kids to read, in many cases to a nagging degree (at least from the child’s point of view), there is a certain paradoxical humor that one can share by giving a book that isn’t really a book at all, but instead playfully encourages diversion.

A book safe is the kind of thing that entices the owner to want to know how it was put together, and perhaps see if they could do it themselves. If the child wants to take on such a craft, this should be encouraged! It can open the door to even more types of crafts. There are some great tutorials online for creating a book safe from scratch. In the meantime, this particular gift is a good starting point to see if it catches their attention.

Good Gifts for Kids showcases cool gift ideas that parents, friends, and family members can get for kids, babies, and teens. Updated about once a week — visit early and often, or subscribe below!




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