Toys and Gifts for Learning: JV Gift Guide 2013

Are you ready to start shopping for the kids? This year, I scoped and shopped for some of the best learning based-gifts for kids, ages preschool through 7th grade, or so. I’ll continue to add to this list, so be sure to be following on my Pinterest board: Best gifts 2013. All recommended toys and games will be listed there as well.

uKloo Early Reader Treasure Hunt Game


Product Description Kids are having so much fun playing uKloo that they have no idea that they are actually building their reading skills! The excitement of finding hidden clue cards and running around the house on a treasure hunt is so engaging that the kids are reading without even realizing it! When the kids get stuck on a word, they are empowered to look up the word themselves with the aid of a Picture Helper Poster! Physically Active reading is a great way to motivate reading through interactive play! Follow the clues to a surprise!

Julieverse says We love that this game. Engages my 4 year old. She’s fascinated by letter sounds and is beginning to increase her phonemic awareness, so this game is perfect for her. And enjoyable enough that her brothers will play along.

Recommended for pre- to early readers, ages 4-7

LeapFrog LeapReader Reading and Writing System


Product DescriptionLeapReader is the premiere learn-to-read-and-write system that helps your child learns to read and write by sounding out words and guiding letter strokes interactively. LeapReader engages kids in imaginative stories with lively character voices while building vocabulary skills and growing reading comprehension skills. Interactive handwriting guidance helps children learn to write stroke-by-stroke on mess-free, no ink LeapFrog Learning Paper. Plus LeapReader helps develop listening comprehension skills on-the-go with a growing library of 100+ audio books and more featuring classic and popular children’s books that encourage a love of reading.

Julieverse says: Read the in-depth Julieverse review here. 

Recommended for ages 4-7.

Energy Ball – Scientific fun at your fingertips!


Product Description: Connecting education and entertainment is the purpose of our Energy Ball. Teachers and students love this ingenious invention. By simply touching the ball’s metal strips, the ball lights up and creates sound. Thus safely demonstrating conductivity, connectivity and electrical currents.

Julieverse says: We haven’t tried this, but it looks like an excellent stocking stuffer that will encourage curiosity. Great for curious minds, ages 7-12. Currently $6.49 on amazon.

Timeline Historical Events Card Game


From the manufacturer: JFK’s assassination, the 1st step on the moon, the last crusade. Can you put all these events correctly on the timeline? With Timeline, learn the answer to this question and thousands more. Each card has a different historical event and on the opposite side its associated date. To begin, one card is randomly selected from the draw pile. This is placed in the middle of the table, date-side up and is the starting point of a chronological line which will slowly be built by players. The first player then chooses one of their cards and places it before or after the initial card. The player’s card is then turned date-side up. If the player was right, it remains on the table. Otherwise, the card is discarded and a new one must be drawn to replace it. The more cards which are correctly played, the harder it is to correctly place new ones. The first player to get rid of their cards wins.

Julieverse says: We learned of this game from Angela of Untrained Housewife who tells us: “… a fun history trivia game called Timeline. This fun game doesn’t take too long to play so it’s perfect for those snippets of time when you don’t want to turn on the TV but want to hang out together as a family.” Read her review here.

Also available Discoveries and Diversity themed card games. Recommended for science and history buffs ages 8+.



Product Description: Kwizniac, The Trivia Countdown Game, is a take-anywhere, twist on trivia games designed to test your knowledge. The object of Kwizniac is to accumulate as many points as possible by correctly answering trivia questions with as few clues as possible. Unlike most trivia games that give you a single question about a subject, each Kwizniac clue card has a set of 10 clues in decreasing order of difficulty. The more clues it takes to answer the question, the less points you receive. Kwizniac offers a more enjoyable trivia experience where youll always get the answer, eventually.

Julieverse says: another trivia game, this one includes the element of speed as a reward for points, making it ganme-show-style in our home. This game is perfect for a road trip or for my kids to stuff in their pool bags or gym bags when they’re going to need something to do. Recommended for ages 10+.

Magazine Subscriptions


This may be the age of the tablet, but there is nothing as exciting as getting a magazine in the mail. Plus, it’s the inexpensive gift that keeps coming. Depending on the age and the child’s interests, you can select magazines like National Geographic Kids, Highlights For Children, Highlights High Five, Sports Illustrated for Kids, Boys Life, Discovery Girls  and more. The messages in these magazines are encouraging, motivating and educational. Select one fit for your giftee’s interests and ages.

MindWare Q-Ba-Maze Big Box

qb maze

Product Description: Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 is a unique system of colorful cubes that interlock to form a marble run. The big difference? You can create marble maze sculptures in the form of animals, geometric shapes or any other design! Configurations are unlimited, allowing for unpredictable action when steel balls travel the various routes. It’s a live demonstration of probability, physics and art, all in one! Big Box includes 72 cubes in five different colors and 20 steel balls. Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 cubes are not compatible with original Q-Ba-Maze cubes.

Julieverse says: You know those magical moments when your house seems silent and you’re wondering why? If you have a marble maze in your home, chances are pretty good your kids are creating. We’re wowed by how these kits and mazes have advanced over the years.

Also available: Stunts sets. Recommended for kids who love seeing how things work, and natural builders. Marble Mazes are created for all different ages and talen. Starting around 4 years (and we know a few high schoolers who enjoy them!)

MindWare KEVA Contraptions


Product description: Young thinkers can build unbelievable ball track structures with this simple stacking plank system. Create ramps, funnels, chutes and crazy contraptions like the “Black Hole” and “Bounce Plate.” Then find out if the ball rolls as expected. Fostering unlimited creativity and experimentation, KEVA planks build an early understanding of proportion and balance, while teaching basic principles of physics and engineering. No glue, no connectors-just loads of constructive fun! Includes 200 identical wooden planks, 2 specially designed lightweight balls for maximum action and an 18-page idea book with project photos and quick-start instructions. KEVA Contraptions planks are made from pine.

Julieverse says: KEVA was provided as a sample to us about 5 or 6 years ago and, like Marble Mazes, they’re still played with and loved. We’re all amazed at the vast creations kids (and adults) can create with little wooden planks.

Also available: catapult, trebuchet, contraptions and more pine plank building sets.

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Office365 Giveaway

best toys gifts kids education learning

If you’re shopping for kids, changes are pretty good that you could use some help in the computer area. Whether you need to update your Microsoft Office for you or a family member or you’re gifting someone a new computer this holiday season, this giveaway is a great one for you and your family. With an Office365 subscription, you and your kids can sign in from anywhere and access your documents from the cloud… so no more “Mom! I need to get on THAT computer RIGHT now to print [work on, finish...] my project.” Because of the cloud access, he can get on any computer! Plus, Office365 will give your family 5 1-year subscriptions to the latest and greatest Microsoft Office software.

For more information about Office365 click here. MSRP $99.99.

Enter to win a 1-year subscription to Office365

Love giveaways? Check out the listing of Julieverse Gift Guide Giveaways for more giveaways to enter this month.

© 2013, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.

About Julie Meyers Pron

Julie Meyers Pron has written 1440 post at Julieverse.

mom of 3 and wife, Julie is a former elementary school teacher and a Public Relations manager. She is the owner/editor of Julieverse and VlogMom, columnist for Rusty & Rosy, Home Made Simple and P&G Everyday, the Social Media and Child Development Specialist at PlayWow, and a team member of Splash Creative Media. Julie is a PTOer, volunteer, elementary educator and that's just the beginning of the list. A marketing strategist and freelance writer by trade, Julie attempts to carve out time to enjoy playing with her kids, cooking and exercise.



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