When kids enter elementary school they begin to identify more strongly with their gender. Love it or hate it, it's highly likely that your school-aged child's wish list will include at least one toy that's designed to appeal specifically to their gender -- and that's why I've included gift suggestions for girls, for boys, and for girls AND boys.
GIFTS FOR BOYS
|The Joker Fun House board game ($19.99) is anything but boring -- it combines the best parts of imaginative superhero play with a bit of friendly competition. Not only do kids get the pleasure of trouncing their friends in a board game, they also get the pleasure of knocking down superheroes with a ball, or shooting down the Joker with a dart crossbow. Every game is sure to be accompanied by boy-made rat-tat-tat machine gun noises, explosion sounds and faster-than-the-speed-of-sound whooshes. |
** Giveaway Alert: Enter to win a Joker Fun House board game below!
|I can't let a holiday gift guide go by without putting in a good word for LEGO. My boys have had LEGO on their holiday and birthday wish lists every year for the past several years, and I don't see that changing for many years to come. This year they've got their eye of several new Ninjago sets ($6.99 and up) and the Star Wars Advent Calendar ($49.99). You just can't go wrong with it!|
|Ditto for K'NEX. I love the fact that it challenges both sides of the brain (analytical, procedural and imaginative, creative), I love the fact that you can build upon your collection, and I love the complexity of the final models. K'NEX celebrated their 20th Anniversary this year, so they must be doing something right!|
|Boys love trucks, and boys love dinos, and VTech Switch N Go Dinos ($15 and up) let them switch from one to the other. The best thing about this toy is that there are no complicated instructions for transforming, and since you don't have to twist and turn the life out of them, they're far less likely to break. Don't be fooled by their chunky appearance, even my third graders love them!|
|Batman is a perennial superhero favorite, and with this year's release of The Dark Knight Rises movie, Batman is fresh in everyone's minds, and stores are full of Batman action figures. The latest line, Batman Power Attack ($9.99 and up), features a variety of Batman figures in different outfits, a Robin figure and some villains. There's also a deluxe version with some motion features so kids can make Batman kick and punch.|
GIFTS FOR GIRLS
|Build a Bear's seasonal items are here, and they're all as sweet as they sound (Merry Mint Pup, Christmas Cookie Bear, Pink Flurry Teddy, etc.., $20 and up for seasonal items, $10 and up for regular bears). What little girl wouldn't want a cuddly friend that she stuffed and dressed by herself? If you're lucky enough to live near one of their new interactive stores, the experience is even more fun, with all-new sound stations and new scents and touchscreen bathtubs and other high-tech fun.|
|I'm such a big American Girl fan, and there are so many gift ideas from American Girl -- from dolls to doll clothes to girl clothes to books to activity kits to craft kits -- that I'm planning to devote a whole post to American Girl gift ideas!|
|Little girls want a dollhouse to go with their American Girl dolls, but these 18" dolls take up a lot of room, and their dollhouses even more so. I love American Doll Room's solution -- a sturdy cardboard doll room ($189) that can be folded up and packed away for storage or travel. It even reverses for twice the play options!|
|When I was a kid I used to love to draw and design my own dresses and outfits. Later I loved to paint my own tshirts, but I never got closer to sewing my own clothes than one sad blouse-and-skirt combo. Now every girl can create her own outfit with Fashion Playtes ($10 and up) -- just choose an item of clothing and customize with decals, appliques, ribbons, rhinestones, trim and bling. Fashion Playtes makes your girl's creation come to life and mails it straight to her! As The Pea will tell you, designing an outfit is so much fun, and actually wearing it is even better.|
GIFTS FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
|The LeapPad ($99.99) hasn't won multiple awards and made hot toy lists nationwide for nothing. It's simply the best kids' electronic learning pad out there -- and a sure way to get your kids off your own tablet! The new and improved LeapPad 2 has more memory and more apps than ever, which means more fun and learning for your kids.|
|If a LeapPad is out of your budget range, you can still give your kids all the fun and learning of Leapfrog with the Leapster GS ($69.99). I like to think of it as an educational device disguised as a gaming console. It has all the cool stuff: motion-based play, a built-in camera, kid-friendly controls and a library of 300+ action-packed games, apps, music, videos -- as well as the educational stuff (i.e. the games and apps all have an educational component and help kids learn through play).|
|Physical and virtual play combine in one cool game with Nukotoys' Animal Planet Wildlands. Kids can collect physical cards ($1.99 for a 3-pack, $3.99 for a 7-pack, $19.99 for four 7-packs) featuring various African wildlife -- so they can learn animal facts, trade cards with friends and hunt for those prized "rare" cards. In addition, they can download the free Animal Planet Wildlands game for the iPad which features a virtual world where animals run free. The best part: kids can "insert" their animal cards into the app by "scanning" or "tapping" the physical card on the iPad surface! Their animal then comes to life in the virtual world, and where they can run, race and hunt other animals. Amazing does not begin to describe it. |
|My kids play with their Webkinz stuffed animals ($5.99 for Lil Kinz animals, $12.99 and up for Webkinz animals) every single day, so even though their collection is 30+ strong, I'm still probably going to get them a Webkinz again this year. In previous years I had the excuse of needing to buy one to keep their online Webkinz World accounts active, but now you can access Webkinz World for free, I have to admit that I buy them because they're so darned cute and cuddly, and because they enhance my kids' imaginative play.|
Win a Joker Fun House Board Game
One lucky Bonggamom Finds reader will receive a Joker Fun House Board Game.
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This giveaway ends at 11:59PM PST on Dec 3, 2012; I will draw a winner at random on Dec 4 and post their name after they confirm acceptance. Continental US residents only. For additional giveaway rules, click here.
Disclosure: I have reviewed select items in this gift guide in the past. Inclusion in this guide was based solely on my personal preferences; no review samples or compensation were received for this gift guide post. Giveaway prize is provided by Wonder Forge Games. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.