An Online Education: Protecting your Kids from the Dark Side of the Web

No parent wants to think about their child being vulnerable to predators of any kind, but ignoring the fact is much more dangerous than being aware and proactive. This is especially the case when it comes to protecting our kids online and with one third of the world’s internet users being under 18, parents have to play a part in protecting their kids and helping them understand the risks of our increasingly digital world.

As many as one in five US teens who regularly use the internet admits to having received unwanted sexual solicitation via the web and younger children can also become targets. It is important parents act accordingly and help children understand the risks of internet usage and learn to use it responsibly from a young age.

This is an image of a boy using a tablet

Understanding Online Grooming

While parents of under 18s in 2021 are much more au fait with the web than older generations, none of us is immune as technologies develop so quickly. Grooming or sexual grooming is the act of befriending and/or influencing a child with the aim of preparing them for sexual activity. Online grooming simply uses the internet as a key tool for this process and it can result in non-contact and contact sexual interaction between the instigator and the child. The worry this brings to any parent’s mind cannot be underestimated but being afraid and not preparing our kids is much more dangerous than hoping it simply won’t happen to them.

A Note about the Law and Online Grooming

The relative new nature of the idea of online grooming means laws in this area are not necessarily as clear as they should be. Few taskforces target the crime on a global scale and the main body for dealing with grooming, as opposed to sexual acts which follow, is the Convention on the Protection of Children Against Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. At the time of writing only two states across the country, Illinois and Arkansas, have specific statues in place to address the problem of online grooming and experts in the field, the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children assert grooming should be considered an “offense-specific process” rather than preparation for the true crime. While this can sound quite complex and make a worrying issue even more worrying, it is important as if your child were to be groomed, you’d want justice, even if it hadn’t got as far as a physical act.

There is also the Violent Crimes Against Children International Task Force in place which brings together 68 online child sexual exploitation investigators from 46 countries around the world. This is a highly specialized unit who can and do help in many circumstances and they have annual case coordination meetings for task force members to pool resources and support each other in their shared battle. Understand the dangers of online grooming and what it actually is, really does matter for parents so they can spot signs and act appropriately in the worst-case scenario.

How does Online Grooming Begin?

Most grooming will begin on a popular app or social network which children are already using comfortably. It may even happen through games, including many high profile cases involving the games Roblox and Minecraft. This doesn’t mean children should be banned from using technology, but transparency is important and helping your child understand the basics of how to protect themselves is too.

Online grooming often begins with someone discussing the game or getting to know a child on their level, talking about school, sports and other common areas of interest. Many predators choose to mask their age so they can easily get close to children online and become their “friends”. Gaining trust before introducing any sexual or dangerous element is a common pattern and one which children may not easily identify.

Social networking sites are particularly popular with perpetrators as they can access a wealth of information about children with relative ease. Children are often shockingly open with strangers online, especially if they’re enjoying games together or believe they’re talking to another child and unfortunately, predators are more than aware of this and are able to manipulate the situation to their advantage.

This is an image of a boy looking at his phone while sitting on a bench outside

Recognizing Signs of Online Grooming

Many kids are regularly rebuffing grooming attempts and we don’t even know about it. As mentioned, many teens have turned down sexual advances online and not even thought to talk to their parents about it, which has made it seem a normal occurrence which can make it even more of a danger. Some of the clearest signs of online grooming may seem like typical teen or preteen behavior but it’s important to remember – you know your kid, so if there is a change in their behavior – take it seriously.  Below are some of the most commonly recognized signs of online grooming to watch out for:

  • Asking to spend more time on the internet or actively doing so
  • Switching off screens or changing tabs when you check to see what they’re doing
  • Being secretive around their online activity
  • Discussing new friends you aren’t aware of or haven’t heard of before
  • New electronics being “given” to them and no explanation of why or how
  • Use of sexual or explicit language you wouldn’t expect them to know or don’t consider age appropriate
  • Mood swings and volatile emotional reactions

All of these may not be signals you recognize and some genuinely might be typical or hormonal reactions you expect from your child. However, if anything seems unusual it is worth delving deeper and keeping closer checks on their behavior and activities online.

Grooming and inappropriate sexual online behavior isn’t something we ever want to think about but it is something we can be aware of and help our children understand is wrong before it becomes a problem for them. Below we’re looking closer at what you can put in place to prevent grooming and to protect your children as they become confident internet users.

Grooming Prevention Strategies

It’s a sickening reality that no child is too young to be groomed and so no child is too young to be taught how to understand what is right and wrong when it comes to others and their body. These simple strategies can be implemented as early as you feel is appropriate with your own kids:

  1. Body Safety

Children can be taught body safety as early as three years old. Children should know the correct words for body parts, what appropriate touch is and the importance of consent. If they say no, it means no and any child can be made aware of this as soon as they begin to use the word appropriately themselves.

  1. Grooming Behaviors

While its scary, it is important to teach children about grooming behaviors such as isolating them from their friends, using sexual and inappropriate language and encouraging them to keep secrets from their parents and people they trust.

  1. Reporting Gifts and Alone Time

Any unsolicited gifts a child gets, you should be told about. This can be hard for children to understand as presents are great and if they’re told “Mommy won’t like that I’ve given you this” they may be scared to tell. The same goes for snacks, treats or even one-to-one time they spend with adults who aren’t you, as this is something you should be aware of, even in the most innocent of situations.

  1. Remove Blame Culture

Kids are scared of getting in trouble with their parents, but when it comes to this issue, you need to ensure they feel 100% comfortable with you and how important it is to tell you anything that is worrying them. Don’t minimize their feelings or their fears and let them know they will never get in trouble for telling you about any worries about people they’ve spoken to online.

  1. Be Open and Honest

No one wants to terrify their kids or give them the idea that they’re not safe, but it’s a hard fact and by telling them, you’re protecting them. Never be afraid to talk to your kids about difficult issues and help them protect themselves.

This is an image of girl sitting at a table on her laptop

Get Web Savvy to Protect from Predators

As we’ve said, the parents of today’s under eighteens are fairly internet savvy themselves, but there are new apps and technologies launched every week and online predators make it their business to know them as well as any kid. As well as ensuring your kids have strategies in place to protect themselves from grooming, put the following in place to ensure you are doing enough with the web to protect your kids as much as you can too:

  1. Understand Privacy Settings

Spend time with your children exploring the privacy settings on their favorite apps and chosen browsers. Ensure they understand the absolute minimum levels of privacy you expect and to always assume anything new has public as its default setting, so take time to set it to private. Many of the most popular social media apps want things to be public, so drill it into them to check every app or even do it yourself, a condition of them being able to download it at all.

  1. Review and discuss apps, games and website choices

While your children are going to want some privacy, the internet really isn’t the place to find it. A condition of having their own cellphone, tablet or computer should be you are allowed to have full access to check in their app and website use and ensure it is safe and secure. Setup your own accounts on their favorite apps so you can keep an eye on their usage but also ensure you have a good understanding of the apps functions. Younger kids may be begging for Snapchat or Instagram but you should also respect the age limits on these sites and consider one of the many child-centered social networks instead like Gobubble or Popjam.

  1. Know Their Friends

If you have a good understanding of who your children’s friends are, you’ll notice if a new name pops into the mix. You can also make sure they understand how powerful the internet can be for making you feel like someone really is your friend, but in reality, you don’t know them as well as you think. It’s very easy for anyone to become quickly connected to someone who seems to share all their interests online but consider why someone would mirror your exact likes and dislikes and what this could mean. Being suspicious of online friends may seem extreme but it helps set a useful precedent and ensures your children understand the importance of their own online safety.

  1. Keep Personal Information Private

Usernames should never include your child’s real name and if they want to talk about themselves online, they should avoid real places, times and dates. Obscuring every detail about themselves may seem false, but it ensures no one lurking online with ulterior motives captures anything of their real identity. Opt for fun cartoon images and favorite characters for profile pictures over family photos or anything which identifies your child.

  1. Encourage Open Communication

As our kids enter their teens they often feel less comfortable speaking to us about personal matters. If something makes your child uncomfortable or scared online then ensure they know there are people they can talk to, and it doesn’t have to be you, as there are many charities and resources ready to help and provide that listening ear.

This is an image of a childs hand using a mouse with computer

Online safety is a topic which many people switch off from, especially teens who think they know best. However, if you are sure to instil a healthy and cautious approach to online friendships and behaviors from their earliest internet usage, you should have additional peace of mind about the choices they might make. Transparent and open communication in the home is essential for protecting your kids as they grow up using the net on a daily basis.

8 Best Board Games for 1 Year Olds in 2021

Alot of board ames for 1 year olds are not what most of us consider to be a board game and some may not even actually be game. However, when you stop to consider that the definition for a game is simply “a form of play or sport” there are an abundance of all types of games for one year olds and chances are that you have already been playing games with your child almost from birth without realizing it.

To help you select the very best options for your little toddler we have put together this list of some age appropriate “games” for 1 year olds.

Our List of the Top Fun & Educational 1 Year Old Games

1

Melissa & Doug Fishing Game

Summary

This cloth fishing set containing 9 fish is a great game for a 1 year old. Young children simply lower the Velcro baited hook onto one of the felt fish and pull it out of the pond. Younger children may not prefer to actually “fish” at first, but will eventually catch on. In the meantime parents can use the game to familiarize kids with colors and counting.

Pros
  • Made with non-toxic materials
  • Can use this toy for a number of learning experience, shapes, colors, counting, fishing and more
Cons
  • Small pieces that young children can choke in
What makes this stand out?

This is a fun fishing game is both fun and educational for 1 year olds.

2

Roll and Play

Summary

This roll and play game is actually a board type game for children who are slightly over 1 year old. The game consists of 48 cards and a soft die that is simply 6 different colored sides. In order to play the die is rolled and then a card of the same color that comes up on the die is selected and the child must act out what is on the card. This game does require the help and supervision of a parent

Pros
  • Teaches children to take turns (if more than one child is playing.)
  • Makes for great bonding time between parent and older sibling and younger child
Cons
  • Some people got the Spanish version
What makes this stand out?

This is a fun game that allows children to act out actions that they understand making the game fun for very young kids whose language skills are limited.

3

Wooden Puzzle Set

Summary

While puzzles are not actually considered to be a traditional board game, this set of 3 wooden puzzles is ideal for not only helping children develop their fine motor skills, but can be used to create a number of parent/child games as well. There is an animal, shape and number puzzle. Parents can have their children make animal sounds, teach them shapes, introduce numbers and colors.

Pros
  • Holes on the side of puzzle pieces makes it easier for small children to remove the pieces
  • Kids can really enjoy these puzzles with the aid of parents
Cons
  • Some puzzles had missing pieces
What makes this stand out?

These puzzles are colorful and simple for children to remove pieces. It may take some time before a younger child can place the pieces back in without help.

 

4

Color Sorting Ring Board Game

Summary

This color sorting board can be made into a fun game for small children. Parents can select a peg and have their child place it onto the same colored ring on the board. The rings also have flat sides so that you can play stacking games with your child. You do need to supervise your child when they play with toys.

Pros
  • Helps children develop fine motor skills and color recognition
  • Everything is made from wood so this is a solid toy
Cons
  • Small pieces can pose a choking hazard if your child is not supervised
What makes this stand out?

This is really an open ended toy making it possible to use for a number of imaginative games.

5

Pound A Ball

Summary

Pound a ball is actually a toy that young children can play on their own, but it is also easy for parents to turn this toy into a fun game for their 1 yr old toddlers. There are 4 brightly colored balls and a series of ramps and a hammer. Parents can name a color of ball for the children to hammer. Most children will love the parent/child interaction and can begin to recognize colors.

Pros
  • This toy holds up well
  • This also makes a matching game as kids match the balls to the same color holes
Cons
  • Balls are small so requires parental supervision if they put objects in their mouth
What makes this stand out?

This toy is simple and does not require batteries and it is easy to make up games to play with your child with this toy.

6

Hide and Squeak Eggs

Summary

Young kids will love Hide and Squeak eggs and will love playing find the chick under the top of the egg. When kids press down on their chicks head the chicks will chirp. There are also special shapes on the bottom of the egg that match shapes on the bottom of the egg carton for children to match up.

Pros
  • Young kids love playing hide and seek with these eggs
  • Great for counting, color matching and shape matching
  • Sturdy toys
Cons
  • The squeaking sound is very slight
What makes this stand out?

This is a fun game that small children love lifting the lid off the egg and finding the chick underneath. This is a great toy for parent/child games, color and shape recognition.

7

Hide and Seek Farm Animals

Summary

These farm animals and barns are ideal for making a number of parent/child games. There are 5 barns with lids and 5 finger puppet farm animals. You can have your child find which barn the ‘duck’ is hiding in, or have your child put the pig in a certain colored barn. Of course you can use the finger puppets and have the child make the sounds of the animal.

Pros
  • There are a lot of different ways to play with this toy as well as many different parent/child games that can be played.
  • This is a durable toy
Cons
  • The barns are difficult for small children to open
What makes this stand out?

This toy has cute finger puppet farm animals and offers children a number of different games they can play as well as being able to play with them on their own.

8

Peek-A-Boo Elephant

Product Currently Out Of Stock!

Summary

Peek-A-Boo is one of the first games infant’s learn to play with their parents. At first simply laughing when their parents cover and then uncover their eyes and say “boo.” In many cases, by the time a child is one they learn to cover their own eyes and play along. This Peek-A-Boo elephant can play peek-a- boo with your child entertaining them for endless minutes. In addition, the elephant is a fun stuffed animal that your child can cuddle and play with.

Pros
  • This elephant has some nice safety features such as embroidered eyes
  • The elephant’s voice is pleasant to a child’s ears
Cons
  • Not the best quality
What makes this stand out?

This elephant actually interacts with your child making it much more interesting that many other stuffed animals.

Buyer’s Guide Choosing Games for 1 Year Olds

If you are looking for some games for a 1 year old child here are some things you are going to want to consider.

1 Year Olds Don’t Play Games Like Older Kids Do

Little kids this age have neither the physical or language development to play traditional games. The best games for small children are those that are simple and include parental involvement. Try playing peek-a -boo, rolling a ball back and forth, games where children act out emotions, or animals.

You Can Turn a Standard Toy Into a Game

As parents you need to keep in mind that as a parent you can take a standard toy and make a game out of it or parts of it. If a parent uses their imagination then there are a number of ways that you can turn most toys into a simple game for your one year old. So look for toys that you can use to make simple games out of to play with your child.

Don’t Get Hung Up on the “Game” Aspect

Parents should not worry too much about trying to get a child of this age to play a game. Kids this age have not quite got down the entire idea of playing and should be allowed to explore toys and learn from them. At this age you should simply play with your child and enjoy this precious time with them.

Boys vs Girls Games

At most ages there is little difference between the best games for boys age 1 and the best games for girls who are 1 but this is especially true at the age of 1, so we recommend you just get the game that you think will be the most educational and fun for your little one!

Final Thoughts On the Best Games for 1 Year Olds

If you are looking for games or toys that can be used for games for 1 year olds then one of the options in this list should be a good start.

Top Board Games by Age
Two yr olds
Three yr olds
Four yr olds
Five yr olds
Six yr olds
Seven yr olds
Eight yr olds
Nine yr olds
Ten yr olds
Eleven yr olds
Twelve yr olds
Teenagers

30 Cute Flower Names for Girls

Many people view their newborn daughters as delicate and sweet. For those parents who want to give their child an ultra feminine name there is no better choice than to name their little girl for one of nature’s beautiful flowers.

Here is a look at some cute flower names for girls that parents will love.

Our List of Lovely Girl Flower Names

If you’ve got a newborn girl on the way and you’re still struggling to pick out the perfect name for her then you’ll love this list of uniquely cute and fun female flower names!

1. Fleur

Fleur is a French word that literally means flower.

Not only is the name both sweet and feminine it also has an exotic sound to it, which may make it popular with parents who are looking to give their child a slightly different and exotic name.

2. Calla

Calla is the shortened version of the flower calla lily, which is a white trumpet shaped flower with a yellow inside.

The name itself simply means “beautiful.” One of the things that makes this cute name ideal is that it is not a common name so will make the child feel a little more special.

If you’re still trying to decide on a middle name for your girl then check out our list of Cute Middle Names for Girls.

3. Blossom

Blossom is a simple name that means “to flourish.” While it is a cute name for some reason it may make a better middle name than a first name for a little girl.

The name Blossom was made more popular by the television series of the same name that aired in the 1990s.

4. Camellia

Camellia is a lovely name that carries with it a certain amount of strength. The flower itself is named for botanist Georg Joseph Kamel and means Kamel’s flower.

The flower itself comes in different shapes and colors making the flower as unique as the name itself.

5. Clover

Clover is a perky name for a girl and the meaning of the name is simply “key” Clover is a meadow flower.

Clover has trifoliate leaves and spikes of red, white or yellow flowers. Clover is of English origin.

6. Daisy

Daisy is a name of English origin and means “Days eye.” This name has been used for a number of different fictional characters including: Daisy Clover, Daisy duck, and Daisy Duke.

There have also been a number of athletes, actors, and other professionals who have also been named or called Daisy.

7. Dahlia

The Dahlia is a Scandinavian flower that comes in various colors and has a kind of a fluffy petal look.

Given to your baby girl the name will have an exotic sound to it and it is a strong though very feminine name.

8. Flora

Flora is of Scottish and Latin origin and simply means “flower.” Flora was the name of a Roman Goddess of flowers and spring who enjoyed eternal youth.

The name is a bit old fashioned, but is super feminine and easy to pair with a number of middle names.

9. Daphne

The name Daphne comes from Greek Mythology and means “Springs flower.”

In mythology the nymph Daphne escapes the attention of Apollo by being turned into a Laurel tree by her father. The name Daphne has a regal sound to it.

If you are interested in other ideas you can check out our list of one-syllable names for girls.

10. Hana

The name Hana is of Japanese origin and means bud or blossom. What makes this name unique is the spelling as compared to the more popular and familiar Hannah.

11. Holly

Holly is a name of Old English origin and comes from the name of the Holly tree. The name means to “prick.” is often given to little girls who are born in December.

The name Holly has a festive feel about it that many parents love.

12. Ivy

Ivy is a climbing vine and comes from the Old English word for fig. The name itself means “faithfulness” and was often given by Greeks in wreath form to newly weds as a symbol of fidelity.

Ivy is often connected to Holly in Christmas Carols.

13. Lotus

The name Lotus is of Greek origin and symbolizes purity and grace. The name itself is sophisticated and exotic. The lotus grows in ponds and small lakes rather like water lilies.

The lotus was a name given to many different flowers before it came to represent the Egyptian white lotus.

14. Marigold

Marigold is a sunny golden flower and the name itself does seem to be bright and sunny.

At one time naming a girl Marigold was reserved for fictional characters, but today is slowly finding its way among charming girl’s names for those parents who want to name their daughters something a little different from the standard Susan or Becky.

15. Jasmine

Jasmine is a name of perfume scented flower and is of Persian origin.

There are many different variations of the name including Yasmin, Yasmine, Jazmin, and Jessamine. It is also the name of the female Walt Disney character in Aladdin.

16. Rada

Rada is a name with origins in several languages including Yiddish, Latin and Russian. The meaning of the name actually means rose.

Rada is both a simple and lovely name that is truly unique and not overused.

17. Winika

Winika is a lovely and exotic name that is Maori origin. It is the name of a Pacific orchid that blooms around Christmas time and means “Christmas Orchid.”

It is a wonderful choice as a female flower name for any girl born in December and a wonderful choice for any parent looking for a slightly unusual flower name for their daughter.

18. Belladonna

Belladonna is a name of Italian origin and simply means “Beautiful lady.”

The plant belladonna also known as nightshade is a deadly plant, so naming your child this lovely name will also give her a hint of darkness and danger.

19. Tulip

Tulip is a name of Persian origin. The name originally was an offshoot meaning turban because the petals slightly resemble a turban.

Today, the name means “perfect love.” Although Tulip may seem an unusual name there are actually quite a few famous or near famous people who have that name.

20. Iris

The name Iris is of Greek origin and means rainbow.

Although the name seems prim and proper it’s colorful meaning makes this a bright and beautiful choice to name a daughter.

21. Violet

The name Violet is of Latin origin and simply means “purple flower.” When Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck named their daughter Violet the name almost immediately increased in popularity.

The Violet is considered a delicate flower, but may be more hardy than some people think.

22. Jacinda

The name Jacinda is of Spanish origin and is actually the Spanish name for the Hyacinth flower.

The name itself has a lovely unique ring to it and seems to turn a common flower into something slightly more exotic.

23. Magnolia

Magnolia is of Latin origin whose strict meaning is “Magnol’s flower.” It is considered an appropriate name for a Southern belle and is often related to the musical “Showboat.”

Girls given this name are likely to prefer the nickname Maggie to going by this flowery name.

24. Zinnia

The name Zinnia is of German and Latin origin and means Zinn’s flower.

The name Zinnia is not as commonly used as other floral names, but it seems to have an energetic quality to it that could make the name an excellent choice for some parents.

25. Azalea

Azalea is a relatively new name in the world of girl’s names first coming up on Social Security lists in 2012.

The name is said to mean dry, but the beauty of the name may make it especially appealing to parents looking for a floral name for their daughter.

26. Lilac

Lilac is a name of Persian and English origin and means “bluish or lilac.” It seems to be taking the place of the more old fashioned flower names like Lily or Violet.

The Lilac flower has a sweet light scent and is certainly a sweet name to give any girl.

27. Cassia

The name Cassia is of Greek origin and comes from the Cassia tree, which bears a yellow flower.

The tree produces a spice that is much like cinnamon, which is how the name Cassia came to mean “Cinnamon.” It is a lovely name to name that red headed baby girl.

28. Dianella

Dianella is a name of Australian origin and comes from a small star like purple flower of the same name.

It has a beautiful ring to it and is a more elegant take on the name Diane.

29. Lily

Lily is a rather old fashioned flower name that has been given to girls for generations. The name Lily means “pure or passion.”

Although the name is old fashioned it has a sweet ring to it. Other versions of the name are Lilith, Lillian and liliana.

30. Heather

The name Heather is of English origin and comes from a Scottish wildflower. The flower is hardy and thrives in rocky soil that is often considered barren.

If you are looking for a floral name for your little girl that is strong and resilient then Heather may be a good choice.

Conclusion to Lovely Baby Girl Flower Names

If you are looking for a cute flower name for a baby girl then these names should give you a start.

10 Best Educational Gifts & Toys for 9 Year Olds

While almost all toys have some educational value to children those toys that are considered educational toys are ones that are specifically designed to help a child develop a particular skill or learn about a specific subject.

Educational toys make learning fun and are important to a childs growth and developement at this age, which is why we have compiled this list of some fun and exciting learning toys for 9 year olds.

Our List of the Best Educational Toys for a 9 Year Old

National Geographic Light Up Marble Run

Summary

This marble run comes with 10 sturdy bases, 55 action pieces and 135 smooth-run tubes to allow the child to build a number of different marble mazes. It also comes with 6 glow in the dark marbles that light up with the flashlight. There is also a mesh storage bag for keeping everything together. This marble run will teach children basic engineering principles, physics and aerodynamics.

Pros
  • This set makes a sturdy maze with a little practice
  • Easy to snap pieces together
Cons
  • Some kits come with missing pieces
What makes this stand out?

This is a large set with see through tubes and glow in the dark marbles so the child can watch the entire course as the marbles drop through it. With so many pieces kids can make different marble runs.

Inverted Microscope

Summary

This microscope is specifically made for younger users or those who have never used a microscope before. This microscope has 40X-320X magnification and 2 eyepieces. It also comes with a smartphone adapter, 10 blank slides, 5 prepared slides, Measuring cup, metal scalpel, cover glass, and tweezers.

Pros
  • Good quality imaging for the price
  • Easy to set up
Cons
  • Not the best quality
What makes this stand out?

This is a great microscope for children interested in the microscopic world. The cell phone adapter allows kids to share their discoveries with friends.

Kaboom Lab Kit

Summary

This science experiment kit comes with 25 interesting experiments such as a Lava lamp, rocket balloon, an explosive geyser and more. The kit comes with a lab guide to help you successfully complete the experiments.

Pros
  • Allows child to complete hands on experiments
  • Really sparks an excitement for science
Cons
  • Need to buy most of the supplies to do the experiments
What makes this stand out?

Many kids learn more from being hands on and this set of experiments allows kids to learn through doing.

Structures Lab + Many Other Variations

Summary

This Structures lab is a great educational toy for kids. They can build their own bridges, houses and more. Kids learn about how engineering works. There are also several other variations you can get for the 9 year old you’re buying for including a solar plane or solar helicopter kit, buyoant forces lab or even a botanic lab where you child can learn about growing plants!

Pros
  • All of these kit encourages a love for scientific learning
  • Promotes learning while offering a high entertainment value
  • Very unique gift idea
Cons
  • With some of the kits you may have to buy some of the supplies seperately
What makes this stand out?

This kit stands out because kids get to build their structures and learn about all different types of science. The kit comes with guided experiments to help make the child successful.

Mega Fossil Dig

Summary

This kit comes with a dig brick that is filled with 15 dinosaur fossils. It also comes with a small chisel, brush and a magnifying glass. There is a 16 page learning guide that explains how fossils are formed and helps the child to identify each fossil they find.

Pros
  • This allows the child to gain insight into what an archaeological dig is like
  • The Kit has real fossils
Cons
  • The fossils are brittle and tend to break easily
What makes this stand out?

This fossil dig stands out because there are real fossils buried in the brick. Kids actually get a small taste of what an archaeological dig is like including the fact that many of the fossils are brittle.

Solar Robot Kit

Summary

This Solar robot kit allows the child to make their choice of 12 working solar robots. This kit engages the child while teaching them a bit about Science, engineering, robotics and renewable energy. Once completed the child can play with the robot then take it apart and build another one.

Pros
  • Directions are written so they are easy for 9 year olds to read and follow
  • Teaches patience as child needs to take their time to assemble their robots correctly
Cons
  • Difficult to put together and get to work well
What makes this stand out?

The sheer number of different robots that can be built makes this a great toy for kids. In addition, kids experience the excitement of seeing something they build come to life.

Scrabble

Summary

This classic word game is fun and will help children build their vocabulary and spelling. The game comes with 4 tile holders, a 100 wooden tiles, A drawstring bag and a game guide. The game can be played with 2, 3 or 4 players. This game also encourages improvement of math skills since the score is kept by the number value of the letters.

This is a great option among board games that any 9 year old would love since it perfectly mixes both learning and fun!

Pros
  • Helps children increase their vocabulary by hearing new words and learning their meaning
  • Improves mental alertness
Cons
  • The board is not as durable as it should be
What makes this stand out?

This game has stood the test of time and has been a favorite of many families for generations. The rules are simple and the game is a bit different every time you play so it keeps people interested in playing again and again.

3D Dinosaur Puzzle

Summary

These dinosaur themed puzzles not only help the child develop some STEM skills, they also give the child some idea of what actual dinosaur skeletons look like. These 3D puzzles also encourage a child’s interest in paleontology and learning more about the prehistoric world.

Pros
  • Helps child learn patience and attention to detail
  • Encourages an interest in science
Cons
  • Some of the pieces don’t fit together well
What makes this stand out?

This kit comes with 6 different dinosaur skeletons, which will allow the child not only the pleasure of putting the puzzles together, but will allow them to compare one dinosaur to another.

Clue Master

Summary

This is a fun logic game in which the player uses logic and deduction based on clues. Developing deductive reasons will aid the child in math, science and a number of other fields.

Pros
  • Single player game so child can play at any time
  • Compact so makes a great travel game
Cons
  • Once the child has gone through all the challenges they lose interest
What makes this stand out?

This game stands out because it requires players to think and come to logical conclusions by making deductions based on the information they have.

Rory’s Cubes Complete Set

Summary

This set of Rory’s cubes is a fun way for children to increase their communication skills as well as open up their imagination. There are a variety of different ways to play and the results are often hilarious.

Pros
  • Helps children express ideas
  • Helps children develop better verbal skills
Cons
  • Some people don’t think these cubes come with enough directions
What makes this stand out?

This story cube set is great because kids make up their own stories and adventures. The more they play the more their verbal skills will improve.

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Buyer’s Guide: How To Choose The Best Learning Toys for a 9 Year Old

What Skill Do You Want the Child to Acquire or Improve?

When choosing educational toys for a 9 year old decide what specific skill or skills you want the child to acquire or improve and look for toys that will help them develop that skill. Educational toys are designed to help the child develop a specific skill so find the toy that will aid in that development.

Make Sure the Toy is Appealing to The Child

No matter how educational a toy or game may be if the toy doesn’t appeal to the child you give it to then the toy will have no educational value because the child will never use it or play with it. The toy needs to have a certain “fun factor” that will appeal to a child this age. It’s also important not to obesses about boy toys and girl toys but rather let the childs interest guide you in choosing a toy for them

Choose a Toy or Game Appropriate to the Child’s Learning Level

If you are looking for an educational toy for a child keep in mind that you need to find one that is appropriate for your child’s learning or skill level. You want the child to be challenged, but you don’t eat the toy to be so challenging that the child becomes frustrated rather than engaged.

Final Thoughts on the Best Educational Gifts for 9 Year Olds

When learning is fun for kids, they not only learn faster, but retain more of what they learn. Educational toys can be a real asset in helping a child succeed and even excel in certain subjects.

10 Best Educational Toys for 10 Year Olds

Most parents are always looking for ways to help their child do well in school. Finding educational toys that are fun and encourage an excitement for learning is one of the best ways that parents can help their child succeed or excel in school.

To help you parents with shopping for these we have come up with this list of great educational toys for kids who are 10 years of age that can help them develop a love of learning that can become a part of their life.

Our List of the Best Learning Toys for 10 Year Olds

Below you can check our list. We were always careful to only pick highly rated and age appropriate toys that will help you child can experience learning while also having fun! so 

Sillbird Building Blocks Robot

Summary

The robot moves in all different directions on smooth flat surfaces. The head, shoulders, elbows and eyebrows of the robot can be rotated and will run 40 minutes on a 120 minute charge. This robot kit will help a child develop critical thinking skills and learn a bit about robotics.

Pros
  • Robot is easy and fun to build
  • Arms and facial expressions of the robot can be changed
Cons
  • Some of the units cam missing pieces
What makes this stand out?

This robot is fun to build and fun to operate. It allows kids to get some idea of what it’s like to build a robot and to encourage an interest in robotics and engineering.

3D Globe Puzzle

Summary

This 3D puzzle allows children to build their own globe using the 180 pieces of the puzzle. Once put together the puzzle can be set on it’s own stand and the globe can then actually be used.

[Related: Best Kids World Maps]

Pros
The globe is durable when completed
  • Useful tool once it is completed
Cons
  • The writing on the globe is extremely small
What makes this stand out?

The numbers on the back of the puzzle pieces helps kids put this globe together correctly. Once completed it makes a great decoration for their room and can actually be used.

Word Play For Kids

Summary

This is a fast paced word game where players are given a category and two letters and they have to come up with a word using those letters. They move around spaces on the board based on the number of letters in the word, so the longer the word the more spaces they move.

Pros
  • Improves vocabulary and spelling
  • Improves kids quick thinking skills
Cons
  • The spinner for the game is poor quality
What makes this stand out?

This word game is fun for family game night and can really help children improve their vocabulary and spelling skills without them really noticing what is happening.

Gravity Maze

Summary

Gravity Maze is a combination of a logic puzzle and marble run. The game comes with a game grid, 9 towers, 1 target piece and 3 marbles as well as an instruction manual. There are 60 challenges for players to complete running from easy to somewhat difficult.

Pros
  • Helps children develop problem solving skills
  • Challenges go from easy to hard
Cons
  • Some of the games came with some of the pieces missing
What makes this stand out?

Gravity Maze is an ideal game for a child who is aged 10 and looking for a challenging game to play on their own. You can even find other solutions than the ones given for getting the marble through making the game even more fun.

K’NEX 70 Model Building

Summary

With over 700 pieces kids can create as many as 70 unique models of animals, vehicles, amusement park rides or whatever else they wish limited only by their imagination. Once completed the models can be played with. This kit comes with an instruction book that will give users a number of ideas.

Pros
  • Helps children build engineering and creative thinking skills
  • Made in the USA
Cons
  • There are many tiny pieces to this set
What makes this stand out?

This building kit helps children use and channel their creativity to build working models of all types.

Green Science Solar Rover Kit

Summary

This science kit is educational and fun for child of this age. They will love turning an empty soda can (or plastic bottle) into a working solar powered rover. A great way to teach kids about solar energy. 

Pros
  • Easy for ten year olds to build on their own
  • Can actually play with the rover once it is built
Cons
  • Some units don’t work
What makes this stand out?

This solar rover runs around powered by the sun. Kids love to watch it run and learn something about alternative energy.

Professors Noggins History of the United States

Summary

This card game helps kids learn interesting facts about the history of the US. With 2 levels of play this game keeps kids interested and learning.

Pros
  • This game fills in gaps that classroom history studies don’t cover
  • Compact game that can be played anywhere
Cons
  • Not enough cards for long term play
What makes this stand out?

This game is unique in that there are few games that cover the history of the United States so thoroughly.

Lego Gadgets

Summary

This Lego gadget kit is great for teaching kids some basic engineering skills as they build 11 different machines such as a catapult, robo boxer, and flywheel cruiser.

Pros
  • Kids can make their own gadgets as well as the ones in the instructions
  • Step by step instructions for completing each project
Cons
  • Some kits come with missing pieces
What makes this stand out?

This kit stands out because kids can actually make working gadgets that are as much fun to use as they are to make. They can also use their own creativity to make their own gadgets as well

Crystal Growing Kit

Summary

This kit has everything needed for children to perform 7 different crystal growing experiments. It even comes with a special display case so you can display the crystals once they have grown. Great for anyone who is interested in geology.

Pros
  • Fun watching the crystals grow and they grow fast
  • The number of crystals you make will depend on the size you want
Cons
  • Some got kits with expired ingredients
What makes this stand out?

The fast growth of these crystals makes this a great kit for children who won’t lose patience since they can see the crystals grow practically from day one.

Smart Circuits

Summary

This Smart Circuit kit teaches a child the basics of electricity. The kit comes with an illustrated manual and everything needed to complete the projects with the exception of the 3-1.5AAA batteries. The projects start with simple builds so the child learns basic electronics and then gets more complex.

Pros
  • Teaches electronic principles in a way children understand
  • Projects are fun to build
Cons
  • It’s often difficult to get the wires into the circuit boards
What makes this stand out?

This kit has 50 projects of increasing difficulty so kids can build upon successfully completed projects and their increasing understanding of electronics.

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Buyer’s Guide To Finding Great Learning Toys for a 10 Year Old

Know the subject or Skill You Want Your Child to Acquire

All toys have some educational value, but educational toys according to the definition are those toys that aid the child in acquiring a specific skill or improving in a specific subject. Therefore, you should choose a toy that speaks directly to the subject or skill you want your child to acquire whether that is improved vocabulary skills, or developing an interest in science or engineering.

Choose A Toy or Game That is Appealing to The Child Regardless of Gender

Just because the toy or game targets a specific gender and is made for the age of the child you are buying for doesn’t mean that you will appeal to th. If the toy or game doesn’t appeal to the child they won’t play with it, so it won’t serve the purpose it is meant to serve. Consider your boy or girls interests rather than forcing them into gender roles that are re-enforced by toys.

Consider Those Toys That Are Hands On

Kids of this age find toys that require hands on participation to build or put together more fun and exciting than those toys that are already to play with. So consider buying a toy that requires some hands on effort before the toy can be played with.

Final Thoughts on the Best Toys for Learning for 10 Year Olds

If you are looking for an educational toy for that 10 year old in your life, then one of the toys we have presented may be just what you are looking for.

10 Best Educational Gifts & Toys for 11 Year Olds

Most 11 year olds are in middle school, which for some children can be a tough transition as the school work is more difficult and children are less likely to seek the aid of their teachers when they are having difficulty in a given subject. With that in mind it can be important to provide the child with educational toys that are fun and exciting.

This can help them to gain a better understanding of the particular subjects they are struggling with or allow them to explore other aspects of those subjects that have piqued their interests.

Below we have compiled a list of some fun and exciting educational toys for 11 year olds that make wonderful gifts!

Our List of the Best Educational Toys for 11 Year Olds

Bridge Construction

Summary

If you have a child that is interested in engineering, building bridges or construction this construction bridge kit makes a perfect toy. This kit comes with 9 building projects, a booklet that covers theory and facts regarding building to support massive weight. It also comes with a quiz, some experimental activities, and step-by-step instructions for the building projects.

Pros
  • Provides child with a little experience in engineering principles
  • Kids can use the building materials to create their own projects 
Cons
  • Some children find the building projects boring 
What Makes This Stand Out?

This building kit is good due to the additional information that comes with the kit along with the quiz that allows the child to test themselves regarding what they have learned.

3D Windmill Puzzle

Summary

This 3d puzzle music box is made of thick cardboard and is designed to enhance the child’s logical thinking and problem solving skills while building a music box that can be given as a gift or kept as decoration for the child’s room.

Pros
  • Finished project is beautiful and functional
  • Very detailed 
Cons
  • There really isn’t enough reviews to make a determination regarding the quality of this puzzle. 
What Makes This Stand Out?

This puzzle is great because it makes a wonderful decoration and is also a functioning music box. It is fun to put together although it does require a little patience.

Weather Science Kit

Summary

This kit will help any child learn more about weathers and how it forms. Imagine the look on the child’s face when they make a cloud in their hand or experiment with static electricity to understand lightning. This kit is a fun way for children to learn more about weather. Best of all kids can build a home weather station.

Pros
  • Kids love setting up their own weather station
  • Several fun experiments 
Cons
  • The materials are cheap 
What Makes This Stand Out?

The great thing about this weather science kit is that kids can build their own home weather station and learn about weather through observation as well as experiments.

Big Boggle

Summary

This educational game is good for an 11 yr old since it offers a great deal of fun as players race against the timer and the other plays to see who can make the most words out of adjoining boggle letters.

Pros
  • Can be played by different ages
  • Improves spelling and language skills 
Cons
  • Some people don’t like the double letter cubes 
What Makes This Stand Out?

One of the great things about this game is that you play with any age of person. Young children can make 3 and 4 letter words and adults and older children can make words that are 4 letters and up. Helps children improve reading, spelling and vocabulary.

Catapult Wars

Summary

This is a great building and play set for kids since kids get to build their own catapult (2 actually) and then play with them using the small sand bags to try and hit targets. Once bit this catapult makes for a fun toy after it is built.

Pros
  • Easy to put together
  • Hours of fun play  
Cons
  • Glue doesn’t hold as well as it should 
What Makes This Stand Out

Catapult Wars not only shows the child how catapults work but makes for a fun indoor toy that the child can use alone or play with a friend or sibling.

Lego Bird Models

These Lego bird models allow kids to build models of 3 popular birds. The Blue Jay, Robin, and hummingbird. Kids learn about nature due to the accompanying booklet that gives information on each of the birds as well as assembly instructions.

[Related: Best Lego Sets for Boys]

Pros
  • Makes a great display for any child’s room
  • Fun, but challenging build 
Cons
  • Some sets come with missing pieces 
What Makes This Stand Out?

This set is great because the bird models are really beautiful as well as unique. Helps children with logical thinking and problem solving as well as learning a little about each of the 3 species of birds.

Wind Power Turbine Kit

Summary

This wind turbine kit will allow the child to learn more about renewable energy and how wind can be used to provide electricity. Not only can the child build a wind turbine they also get information on different types of turbines and windmills, which is interesting and easy to digest.

Pros
  • This wind turbine actually makes electricity
  • The turbine is a good size  
Cons
  • Some of the kits have missing pieces 
What Makes This Stand Out?

This kit encourages children to get excited about science and green energy while giving them basic information on how wind turbines function and what they can do.

Master Detective Toolkit

Summary

This is a great detective kit that will teach a child the basics of forensic science and evidence gathering. Kids learn about securing a crime scene, gathering and documentary evidence. This kit comes with a 32 page full color experiment book.

Pros
  • Teaches Kids to pay attention to details
  • Kids learn about investigating crime scenes 
Cons
  • Some of the kits came without the manual 
What Makes This Stand Out?

With all of the crime scenes on television these days this kit will give kids a real look at what goes into investigating a crime scene. There are even some fun mysteries to solve.

Sphero Mini

Summary

With computers being so much of modern day life this mini ball robot that kids can code themselves makes a great gift for those children into computer science. There are 2 ways to use this robot. Kids can choose Sphero play to play various games with their robot or choose Sphero Edu for learning a bit about coding.

Pros
  • Small size makes it easy to transport to play anywhere
  • The mini games are tons of fun  
Cons

  • Doesn’t connect to very many devices 
What Makes This Stand Out?

About the size of a golf ball this miniature robot is something middle school kids will love since they can use this little ball to play games or try their hand at coding.

Oregon Trail Choose Your Own Adventure

This is a great set of books to encourage a reluctant reader to read more and improve their reading skills, while gaining a view on a period in history at the same time. By allowing the child to make choices along the way they gain a knowledge of how many perils the pioneers faced.

Pros
  • Helps children consider how important making good choices can be
  • Gives children a little insight into what the lives of pioneer children were like 
Cons
  • Could be more character development so the reader cared more about what happens to each character. 

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Buyer’s Guide to Choosing the Best Educational Toys for an 11 Year Old

Cater to the Child’s Interest

While most children don’t excel at every subject, finding a subject that the child enjoys and is truly interested in will help them to excel at that subject. A child gains self confidence from doing well at one or two things. By catering to your child’s interests you give them the opportunity to find something they feel truly passionate about.

Don’t worry about Gendered Toys or Colors

Get your boy or girl what they have an interest in and don’t worry about their gender as it relates to what toys (or color of toys) others think your child should be playing with! 

Find A Toy That is Fun

When a child is having fun they learn faster and easier and it doesn’t really feel like they are studying. Games and toys that are interactive are more fun for kids allowing them to participate more fully in the learning process. When you take part with your child and they see you having fun they are likely to have more themselves.

Choose A Toy That Builds On Skills Your Child Already Has

When choosing an educational toy, you should choose one that builds on skills your child already possesses. Choosing a toy or game that repeats skills the child has already acquired will be boring, while choosing one that builds on the skills your child already has will make learning challenging, but far more interesting.

Final Thoughts on Educational Gifts for Kids Age Eleven Years Old

If you are looking for a great educational gift for the 11 year old in your life, this gift guide and list of gifts should help you achieve that goal.

10 Best Christmas Gifts & Toys for 8 Year Olds

By the age of 8 most kids are beginning to enjoy both being active and board games that are competitive in nature, tend to like to collect things such as matchbox cars, rocks, shells or numerous other things. Spending time with other children their age is also extremely important to children this age as is having a sense of independence.

When choosing toys for children this age you want to choose something that will meet the child’s growing interests and need to stay active.

Below we have reviewed a list of some of the best 8 year old toys!

Our List of the Very Best Toys for 8 Year Olds

Rock Painting Kit

Summary

A great gift for encouraging a child who is aged 8 creativity this rock painting kit is fun and allows a child to express themselves while making some cute objects to collect or for their room décor.

Pros
  • Great transfers that makes painting easier
  • These man made rocks are smooth 
Cons
  • Comes with less designs than expected  
What Makes This Stand Out?

Instead of using river or natural rocks this kit uses man made rocks that are smoother and have less flaws than natural rocks do. The transfers for these rocks only add to the ability to create really interesting rock paintings.

Skateboard

Summary

This skateboard is only 22 inches long and makes a great toy for any 8 year olds who enjoy cruising down the sidewalk or in the park.

Pros
  • Sturdy and durable
  • Helps young children improve their balance while getting some good exercise 
Cons
  • May feel too small for some children  

Gravitrax Starter Set

Summary

Gravitrax is the perfect gift for any child who enjoys marble runs and science. This 122 piece building set allows children to build their own tracks while learning some basic engineering, science and spatial reasoning.

Pros
  • Lots of possible building combinations will keep children occupied building and testing their marble run
  • Comes with some suggestive builds to get kids started 
Cons
  • Some of the tracks are missing from some of the units 
What Makes This Stand Out?

This marble run is great because it not only offers children hours of building fun, but it also teaches them about gravity and basic engineering and problem solving skills.

Slackline for Kids

Summary

A slackline makes a great toy for kids because it keeps them active while helping improve balance and help build core body strength. This slackline comes with an overhead guide rope to make traveling across the slackline easier while helping to build self confidences

Pros
  • Slackline is strong
  • Reasonably easy to set up and take down 
Cons
  • Some sets were missing the training line  

Wooden Puzzle Animal Set

Summary

This wild bird set makes a great educational toy for an 8 year old. Each puzzle comes on a wood sheet ready to punch out complete with directions for assembly, which will encourage the child to both read and follow written directions. Best of all each puzzle can be displayed in natural wood or painted.

Pros
  • Fun to assemble and makes a great décor for child’s room
  • Several puzzle kits to choose from 
Cons
  • Some kits came with missing puzzles 
What Makes This Stand Out?

Getting 6 individual animal puzzles will challenge a child’s puzzle building skills, encourage their interest in the animals they put together and provide them with unique displays for their room.

Bow and Arrow Set

Summary

Archery is a great hobby for people of all ages so giving a young child a safe bow and arrow set as a gift to begin learning the fundamentals of archery and to have fun while perfecting their skills just may be a perfect gift.

Pros
  • Great for shooting at targets like cans
  • Shoots a nice distance 
Cons
  • The drawstring tends to break  
What Makes This Stand Out?

The arrows have foam tips instead of the standard suction cup tips. The arrows also fit right on the bow to keep everything together.

Labyrinth Board Game

Summary

With Kids spending so much more time at home these days a board game makes a great toy for an 8 year old and encourages him to spend time with parents and siblings. Labyrinth is a board game that is easy enough for an a child who is 8, but challenging enough that older siblings and parents won’t become easily bored.

Pros
  • Every game is new
  • The game board changes as you play requiring you to use strategy and luck 
Cons
  • Like any game some people don’t like this game 
What Makes This Stand Out

This game will help children think ahead, employee strategy and learn good sportsmanship both when winning and losing.

The Borrows Book Set

Summary

Books always make a great gift for kids as they encourage children and learn about the world or use their imagination. This Borrows book set is a combination of a little bit fantasy and a little bit adventure that will capture your child’s attention and imagination.

Pros
  • Characters in these books grab children’s attention
  • The Stories are engaging 
Cons
  • Some of the book sets come damaged 
What Makes This Stand Out?

Set of 5 books that are easy to read and keeps children interested in finding out what happens next

Weighted Blanket

Summary

If you are looking for a useful gift for an 8 year old then what could be better than a weighted blanket? One of these blankets will help a child sleep better and will allow them to feel like they are wrapped in a hug.

Pros
  • Helps children fall asleep faster
  • Not overly hot to sleep under  
Cons
  • The weight beads tend to fall out over time 
What Makes This Stand Out?

Having a weighted blanket can help children feel less anxious and fall asleep easily and sleep better throughout the night.

ArmoGear Infrared Laser Tag Set

Summary

This set provides an authentic laser tag game for children who are 8. Unlike other similar models, this particular model includes target vests, invisibility mode, night vision flashlight, voice-guided directions, a variety of shooting modes, and as much as 150 feet of shooting range. They also utilize child-safety infrared signal emission.

Pros
  • Up to 4 players can participate at the same time with each kit
  • Long shoot range means the playing field is much larger
Cons
  • Each vest uses 3 AAA batteries
  • Each blaster uses 3 AAA batteries
What Makes This Stand Out?

This is a great option since it allows for your child to engage in group play and be active burning off access energy.

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Buyer’s Guide for Choosing Gifts & Toys for 8 Year Olds

Let the Child Be Your Guide

When buying gifts for a child, why not let the child be your guide? Talk with them and find out what things they enjoy doing and what new things they would like to explore and gear your gifts to those interests.

Don’t Push A Child Into Gender Specific Toys

Despite our best efforts we all have our idea of what are a girl’s toys and what are boy’s toys and all too often we push our beliefs onto a child sending them a silence message that some toys are appropriate for them and some are not. This is a bad message to send our kids and may keep them from exploring toys that really interest them. Children will when left to their own devices and encouraged to do so let you know where their true interests lie.

Choose Open Ended Toys

Toys that can be used in more than one way not only allows children to have more fun with that specific toy, but also allows them to explore and engage in self learning.

Conclusion to Wonderful 8 Year Old Toys

Buying toys for an 8 year old doesn’t have to be stressful and it is our hope that this buying guide will help make your gift shopping easier and more fun.

10 Best Alphabet Foam Puzzles

Puzzles are an important part of childhood helping children to develop their fine motor skills, hand/eye coordination, and even logical thinking. ABC puzzles made of foam have the added benefit of helping toddlers and preschoolers learn and recognize the letters of the alphabet and are a texture that children love.

We are pleased to present you with this list of some of the best and most highly rated alphabet foam puzzles available.

Along with our list we’ve also included a brief buying guide at the end to help you with your gift shopping!

Our List of the Best Foam Alphabet Puzzles

Tadpoles ABC Foam Floor Mat

Summary

This floor mat foam letter puzzle is large measuring 6 foot by 6 foot when completed. The mat consists of 36 -12 inch puzzle pieces (the 26 letters of the alphabet and numbers 0 through 9). Along with 24 border pieces. Each foam piece is non toxic and easy to wipe clean.

Pros
  • Easy to put together
  • Thick enough to provide good padding 
Cons
  • Letters can be removed from inside the squares 
Recommended Age

This can work well for children 6 months and older

What Makes this Stand Out?

This foam alphabet puzzle is great as a playmat and then as the child becomes older they can actually assemble the mat as a giant puzzle. In addition, the letters themselves can be removed so the letters can be used to practice beginning spelling.

Two Alphabet Puzzles and a Number Puzzle Set

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Summary

This puzzle set comes with a puzzle of upper case letters of the alphabet, lower case letters of the alphabet, and a numbers puzzle.

Pros
  • The letters are easy to put into the spots where they belong
  • The child can match the lowercase letter with the capital letter 
Cons
  • The letters are a bit small  
Recommended Age

These puzzles are best suited for children ages 3 years and ups

What Makes This Stand Out?

You get 3 puzzles for a reasonable price and it is nice to see that one puzzle actually has lower case letters since many alphabet puzzles and toys only have the capital letters.

Pete’s Choice Alphabet Puzzle Mat

Summary

This 26 piece foam puzzle is designed to be put together to work as a floor mat to cushion small children as they play. This puzzle is thicker than most alphabet foam letter mats providing more cushioning for younger children. As your child grows this mat can be used as a floor size puzzle or different pieces can be put together to create words or even shapes.

Pros
  • Brightly colored squares brightens up child’s room or nursery
  • Made with non toxic materials 
Cons
  • Some users feel the pieces don’t go together well  
Recommended Age

3 months and up

What Makes This Stand Out

The thickness of this provides more cushioning that most other foam puzzle mats and the colors are bright and cheerful.

Sesame Street Foam Floor Puzzle

Summary

This ABC puzzle comes with 27 pieces with each piece measuring 4 inches by 4 inches. Each piece also includes a letter of the alphabet and a picture. Since the pieces fit together in any order this puzzle can be used for letter recognition, beginning reading and spelling and making cubes.

Pros
  • Kids who are Sesame Street fans are drawn to this puzzle
  • The pieces fit together in any order so younger children can fit pieces together 
Cons
  • Some people thought this was a playmat 
Recommended Age

Best suited for children 2 years old and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

This floor puzzle is easy to put together, contains some of young children’s favorite characters, and is brightly colored making it a fun puzzle.

Foam Bath Toys Learning Puzzles

Summary

This foam bath toy puzzle set comes with 26 individual animal and letter puzzles. Each puzzle features an animal in a boat, with a removable letter. The entire puzzle can be dampened and will stick to the bathtub or can be played with on a table or floor.

Pros
  • Great for improving fine motor skills
  • Helps children learn the letters of the alphabet, reading and spelling 
Cons
  • Some of the animals are unique 
Recommended Age

These puzzles are best suited to kids ages 3 years and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

This puzzle set offers a lot of opportunities for learning for toddlers. They can learn colors, the names of animals, the letters of the alphabet, beginning reading and spelling as well as improve their fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination.

ABC Puzzle Play Mat

Summary

This one forms a large play mat that cushions young children at play. The mat can be assembled for play, used as a large floor puzzle, or be used as individual squares for letter and number recognition. Children can also make blocks (cubes) from these puzzle squares making for more fun play.

Pros
  • Easy to clean
  • Nice colors 
Cons
  • Some users find that this has strong fumes coming off it 
Recommended Age

6 months and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

This is colorful and can be used in a variety of ways. Once that infant becomes a toddler, the mat can be used to teach the child letter recognition and help them develop their fine motor skills and hand/eye coordination.

Sallymonday Play Mat With Fence

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Summary

This one is a great option because it can be used in various ways. It also have both lowercase and capital letters so your little one can learn to recongize both version of each letter.

Pros
  • Variety of different ways to use this puzzle mat
  • The edge pieces can be used as border or as a stand up fence
  • Has both capital and lowercase letters 
Cons
  • Mostly dull neutral colors 
Recommended Age

4 months and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

This is a large mat and you get both capital and lowercase letters. In addition, the individual letters pop out so as your child gets older you can use the individual letters to teach beginning reading and spelling.

Premium Educational Letter Animal Bathtub Puzzles

Summary

These ABC animal bath tub puzzles are an open toy that provides a child many ways to use them both inside and outside of the bathtub. These small puzzles can be used by young toddlers to learn color recognition and animal names as well as the letters of the alphabet, hand/eye coordination and fine motor skills.

Pros
  • Tons of learning opportunities
  • Makes bath time more fun  
Cons
  • Some of the animals are difficult to recognize 
Recommended Age

These letter animal puzzles are best suited to children 2 years and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

This is a great educational learning set that is still fun for toddlers and preschoolers. There are a number of different ways that this set of bath tub animal puzzles can be used, which keeps them interesting for a longer period of time.

Baby Loovi Non Toxic Puzzle Mat

Summary

This 36 piece foam mat comes with 36 pieces made up of colorful letters and numbers. The mat not only provides a cushion for crawling infants and beginner walkers, but also can be used to create words, numbers and even 3D shapes

Pros
  • The actual letters come out of the square and can be put right back in
  • Variety of uses 
Cons
  • High price 
Recommended Age

This mat is suited for children 2 years and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

This foam puzzle mat will brighten up any child’s play area and can be used in a number of different ways.

Creative Baby 9 Piece Interactive Play Mat Puzzle

Summary

This foam puzzle has just 9 pieces and when put together measures 16 ½ inches by 16 ½ inches and is 3 ½ inches thick. The mat also has pictures of animals as well as Xylophone graphics to introduce the child to colors.

Pros
  • Durable
  • Large pieces are easy for toddlers to put together  
Cons
  • Paint may flake 
Recommended Age

6 months and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

The large puzzle piece sizes combined with the fact that once put together this play mat doesn’t pull apart easily when kids roll around or walk it makes it a great play mat.

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Buyer’s Guide: Tips to Buying Foam Puzzles

Size Does Matter

Before shopping for a foam alphabet puzzle you need to realize that the largest selection of these puzzles are actually floor mat puzzles. If you are looking for a regular size puzzle made of foam to help your child learn their ABCs then your choices are going to be far more limited. However, keep in mind that larger floor puzzles can often be used to make 3D cubes and blocks that the toddler can also play with.

Put Safety First

Although many of these puzzles state that they are non-toxic some reviews do state that certain ones of these play mats have strong fumes that may not be good for your child to breathe in. Like with any other toy you purchase for your child, make sure that you feel comfortable that this toy is safe for your little one.

Versatility

Many of these puzzles are designed to provide your child with multiple opportunities of learning and many different ways to use or play with them. Some can be used in the bathtub, others are like having two puzzles in one because the squares can be put together and then the individual letters can be put in the proper space. They can also be used as individual flashcards or to build 3D objects. The more versatile the toy the more use your child will get out of it.

Conclusion to the Best ABC Foam Puzzles

We hope this buyer’s guide will help you to find the right toy that will meet your child’s needs.

10 Great Kids Drum Sets: Drum Sets for Juniors

Most kids develop an interest in drums and drumming at some stage in their lives. While many parents and grandparents think of drum sets as noise makers, the truth is that these toys and musical instruments are actually an excellent educational toy teaching children early math skills such as counting and fractions, helping them to understand rhythm, helping to improve your child’s overall brain development as well providing exercise for various parts of the body.

Considering the educational value of these instruments and the fact that they can help children develop a lifelong love for music we have compiled this list of the best drum sets for kids. 

Our List of Wonderful Drum Sets for Kids

Vtech KidiBeats Kids’ Drum Set

Summary

This drum set for toddlers comes with 3 light up drum pads and cymbals. Toddlers can play along with 9 different melodies that teach letters, numbers and music. There are 4 different modes of play to keep your child entertained and interested.

Pros
  • Volume control so parents won’t get too annoyed
  • Offers child different learning opportunities as well as introducing them to music 
Cons
  • Can’t just play the drums without the music 
Recommended Age

This toy is suitable for children ages 18 months and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

This toy drum set is not just some drums for the child to bang on, there is also learning songs and different modes of play to keep the toddler entertained and engaged.

WolVol Electric Big Drum Set

Summary

This Drum set for younger children allows a child to play the drums all by themselves, play music that is on the set, or use the microphone to sing a song. This toy has bright lights and is colorful and comes with a stool so your toddler can jam for as long as they would like.

Pros
  • Nice set that is easy to assemble
  • Children are introduced to music and can create their own beats and even songs 
Cons
  • Some sets come with missing or broken pieces 
Recommended Age

Best suited for children ages 2 to 5

What Makes This Stand Out?

The bright colors of this along with the many options for children to listen to and play music as well as sing songs they know or make up. This is a great toy for kids who love music.

Mendini by Cecilia 13 Inch 3 Piece Set

Summary

This one comes with a Tom, Snare, bass drum and cymbals along with the drumsticks and stool. It also comes in a choice of several colors.

Pros
  • Decent sound for a child’s set
  • Sized for younger children  
Cons
  • Drums keep sliding 
Recommended Age

These are recommended for children ages 3 through 6

What Makes This Stand Out?

The set comes in several great colors and is sized perfectly for smaller children.

Mendini by Cecilia 16 inch 5 piece set

Summary

This junior drum set is for serious beginner drummers who are too small for a standard size set. This item includes a bass drum with stand, two different size tom toms, a floor tom, a snare drum, and Hi hat and crash cymbals, cymbals and an adjustable drum throne.

Pros
  • Good sound and quality
  • Should last a child for a number of years 
Cons
  • Poor directions for assembly 
Recommended Age

These are recommended for children ages 4 through 7 or 8

What Makes This Stand Out?

This set of drums, while not the best quality, are good enough to allow children to practice while learning to play.

Music Alley 3 Piece Set

Summary

This set is a scaled down version of a standard adult set made from wood, metal and tuneable skins. This set comes with an adjustable drum seat making these drums ideal for beginner drummers.

Pros
  • Good sound
  • Good quality for a decent price 
Cons
  • Screws are poor quality
Recommended Age

Best suited for children ages 3 through 8

What Makes This Stand Out?

Parents like that this is not a child’s toy, but an actual instrument on which their young child can begin to learn about drumming and music in general.

Ashthorpe 5 Piece Junior Set

Summary

This is a complete beginner set for children that is designed for them to learn about music in general and drums specifically. This set is perfect for lessons and practice and is designed for a child’s smaller size.

Pros
  • Sturdy and solid set
  • Decent sound quality 
Cons
  • Very poor assembly instructions 
Recommended Age

This instrument is recommended for children ages 3 through 12 years old

What Makes This Stand Out?

Your child gets everything they need to begin learning how to play the drums for a fairly decent price. In addition, this instrument will grow with your child serving them for several years before they need a better set.

Bongo Drums 

Summary

This set of Bongo drums comes in 6 and 7 inch size with a hickory shell an animal hides tops (the hides are ethically sourced.) These drums are fun to play.

Pros
  • Amazing sound
  • Great craftsmanship 
Cons
  • Some consumers state they got used drums 
Recommended Age

These Bongo drums are suitable for children ages 3 through adult

What Makes This Stand Out?

Different from more traditional sets, these bongo drums are great for creating a beat, playing at a beach and have a lovely sound to them.

Eastar 14 Inch Kid’s Drum

Summary

This set comes with a bass, snare and tom drum as well as cymbals and a seat. It also comes with both children and adult drum sticks. These instruments also come in a range of different colors.

Pros
  • Decent sound to both drums and cymbal
  • Easy to set up 
Cons
  • Came with some of the parts missing 
Recommended Age

This is recommended for children 3 to 6 years of age

What Makes This Stand Out?

This instrument set comes in several colors and is designed for young children allowing them to practice and learn to play the drums.

Eastar 22 Inch Drum Kit Adult Junior Teen

Summary

This is a full size set designed for teens who are looking to play drums. The set comes with 5 drums, cymbals, drum throne, and strand.

Pros
  • Drum shells and hardware is good quality
  • Great set for beginners 
Cons
  • Some sets came with broken parts 
Recommended Age

This set is recommended for children 10 years and up

What Makes This Set Stand Out?

This is a full size set that is great for beginners, but can also be upgraded as a person becomes more experienced and proficient at playing.

Remo Bongo Drums

Summary

Designed to hold up under heavy use these 5 and 6 inch bongo drums are designed to be used by younger children. These types of drums are great for children to learn to follow a beat and for their creativity.

Pros
  • Great sound
  • Durable 
Cons
  • Not the sound some people want 
Recommended Age

These bongo drums are suited for older infants 7 months and up to about a 5 year old

What Makes This Set Stand Out?

This set is cute and is designed for young children. The artwork on the drums is attractive and attention getting.

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Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Drum Sets for Juniors

Set Reasonable Expectations

A really good costs anywhere from around $900.00 and up with mid-range sets costing around $700.00, so when buying a drum set for juniors remember that they are priced to be affordable for kids just learning to play. This means that these sets won’t be made from the highest quality materials. By keeping your expectations reasonable you will be better able to choose the right set of drums for your child.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Recommendations

If you are purchasing a set of drums because you want your child to take lessons then it may be a good idea to talk to a music teacher and get a recommendation for the best option for your child to practice on. Explain to them the price you can afford and then get a recommendation based on price from someone who actually plays drums.

Consider Your Child’s Enjoyment

Remember if you are purchasing this instrument for a young child, that they may be just looking to have some fun and not planning on making playing the drums a lifelong commitment. While you want the product you purchase to be durable enough for the child to enjoy it, it doesn’t have to be top of the line in order for your child to reap the benefits.

Conclusion to the Best Kids Drums

We hope that this Buyer’s guide and list of the best drum sets for juniors serves as an aid in helping you buy an instrument that your child will enjoy.

10 Best Kids Toy Vacuum Cleaners

Small children often parrot their parents behavior even when engaging in pretend play. While this behavior is seen as cute by most parents and family members it is also a way that children learn adult behavior and gain skills they will need throughout their lives. Parroting parents as they do household chores prepares toddlers for taking care of their rooms, and later their homes as they grow and mature.

Giving your toddler or young child fun mini size household cleaning equipment actually encourages them to start taking pride in their homes and enjoying chorse.

If you’re wanting to get this gift for your little one then you’ll enjoy this list and buyers guide that we’re dedicating to the best play vacuum cleaners!

Our List of the Best Vacuum Cleaner Toys

Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Light Up Vacuum

Summary

This smiley faced toy vacuum has an on/off switch and entertains your child with lights, songs, and phrases. The vacuum can be tilted up or down and has large buttons that are simple for the child to work all on their own.

Pros
  • Makes a real vacuum sound
  • Light enough for young toddlers to push around 
Cons
  • Doesn’t stand upright 
Recommended Age

This vacuum is suitable for children 12 months and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

This is an adorable little vacuum that will capture a child’s attention and they will enjoy using it to clean up with mom or an older sibling.

Black and Decker Toy Dustbuster

Summary

This toy dustbuster is designed off the modern version of the real dustbuster. This toy makes realistic sounds and has little beads that swirl around when the child operates this handheld vacuum.

Pros
  • Makes realistic sounds kids love
  • Pellets make the vacuum look like it really working 
Cons
  • Some parents are disappointed that this vacuum does not have real suction 
Recommended Age

This toy is best suited for children 2 ½ to 5 years of age

What Makes This Stand Out?

This toy dustbuster makes realistic sounds, is lightweight, and fun for toddlers who enjoy helping to clean up. This is a great play vacuum to keep kids occupied and happily cleaning.

Dyson Ball Vacuum

Summary

This toy Dyson vacuum has real suction that will pick up fuzz and lint, and Eva beads. This vacuum has a removable debris draw and whizzing colored balls.

Pros
  • Kids love that this vacuum is just their size
  • The real suction actually picks up small crumbs and debris 
Cons
  • Suction is not great  
Recommended Age

This kid’s vacuum is suitable for children age 2 years and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

The real suction on this play vacuum cleaner really captures both parents and the child’s attention. The toy is the perfect size and kids love pushing it around.

LeapFrog Pick Up and Count Vacuum

Summary

This cute little kids toy vacuum comes with ten pretend pieces of lint for the vacuum to pick up. As the vacuum picks up the “dust” it teaches colors, numbers, and counting. There are bouncing balls, a tiltable handle, and audio elements to make vacuuming more fun.

Pros
  • Music and sounds that hold child’s attention
  • Easy to push  
Cons
  • Difficult to pick up the play dust bunnies 
Recommended Age

Best suited for children ages 2 years and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

A cute vacuum perfect for toddlers who like to help clean the house. There are lights and sounds and even “dust bunnies” for the vacuum to pick up and count.

Melissa and Doug Play Set

Summary

This is a wooden play vacuum that comes with various wooden debris to pick up. When the vacuum rolls over the debris it picks up the debris. There is a lid you lift to remove the objects so they can be vacuumed up again.

Pros
  • Simple and cute
  • Really picks up the items that come with this toy 
Cons
  • Pretty flimsy material  
Recommended Age

This toy is recommended for children ages 3 and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

This pretend vacuum is made of wood instead of the standard plastic and is designed to pick up the pieces of debris that comes with the vacuum.

Pretend & Play My Light Up Vacuum

Summary

This toy vacuum cleaner for toddlers comes with lights, clicking buttons, and wheels. It even comes with a removable vacuum cleaner bag for more realistic play.

Pros
  • Durable
  • Vacuum sound not too loud 
Cons
  • Comes in odd colors 
Recommended Age

Best suited for kids age 2 and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

The vacuum cleaner bag that is removable makes this vacuum slightly different from most other vacuums. It is also easy for most children to push

Theo Klein Cleaning Kit

Summary

This cleaning kit comes with a play Miele vacuum and a trolley that consists of a broom, mop, mop bucket, sponge, dust pan and more. Now that little one can help mom or dad clean up all the house with tools made just his or her size.

Pros
Cons
  • Some parents not thrilled that this isn’t a real vacuum 
Recommended Age

This kit is made for kids 3 years and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

This cleaning kit has everything needed for your little to clean “house.” Tons of fun for toddlers and will keep them busy helping around the house.

Minnie Happy Helpers Sparkle N’ Clean Vacuum

Summary

A great gift idea for toddler girls, this Minnie Mouse toy vacuum. The little bow on this toy vacuum lights up while the beads inside swirl around to make the child feel like they are really picking up debris.

Pros
  • Kids love the sound
  • Cute and fun to use 
Cons
  • The vacuum sound is only hit and miss 
Recommended Age

This toy is perfect for children 2 years and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

The bright pink color and the Minnie Mouse head and bow makes this vacuum fun for any little girl who loves Minnie mouse and cleaning the house.

Dyson Cord Free Vacuum

Summary

Although this is a toy this child’s Dyson vacuum has real suction and an accessible debris tray. It even comes with attachments. Toddlers will enjoy cleaning up around the house with this fun to use toy.

Pros
  • Will suck a small amount of dust, which makes toddlers happy
  • Lightweight  
Cons
  • Some units quit working after a short amount of time 
Recommended Age

Best suited for kids 4 years and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

Lightweight and easy to use this child’s vacuum has real although not functioning suction. Great for young toddlers and the attachments are fun.

PlayGo 2-in-1 Household Vacuum Cleaner

Summary

This toy vacuum cleaner for toddlers has realistic suction and will pick up light dirt, but nothing special. It makes real vacuum noises and is light enough for toddlers to use.

Pros
  • Works great with good batteries
  • Kids love the swirling glitter 
Cons
  • Not enough reviews to make an informed decision 
Recommended Age

This toddler vacuum is best suited for children 2 years and up

What Makes This Stand Out?

This is a bright colored little vacuum with real suction and vacuum sounds. Lightweight enough for toddlers to use and the swirling glitter captures their attention.

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Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Toy Vacuum for Kids

Remember You Are Buying A Toy

For some odd reason many parents seem to be disappointed when they purchase a toy vacuum that doesn’t have enough suction to actually vacuum. They seem to forget that the main purpose of a toy is to bring a child pleasure and allow them to use their imagination. You wouldn’t expect a play kitchen and stove for toddlers to put out enough heat to burn a child, or a toy lawn mower to have sharp blades that could injure your child, so why would you expect a toy vacuum cleaner to have enough suction to really clean the carpet?

Consider the Toy’s Features

Toddler vacuum cleaners have different features: some have lights, sounds, and songs. Some are designed to pick up specific items, and some do have minor suction or handles that can be tilted. Consider the features that you are looking for in this specific toy.

Type and Longevity of Battery

Since most pretend vacuums require batteries. You are going to find those play vacuum cleaners that use easy to buy sizes of batteries and that have features that allow the batteries to last for a long period of time.

Final Thoughts on the Very Best Vacuum Toys

Toy Vacuum cleaners for kids can provide them with fun, a little bit of exercise and help prepare them for taking care of household chores in the future.