Mr. Star Wars is going to a friend’s birthday party this weekend, and we shopped for a present today. I am starting to believe that shopping for a boy around age 9 or 10 is difficult. We have been giving a lot of small Lego sets for birthday presents, which are usually around $10 at Target, but I think it is possible we are aging out of Lego gifts (insert RoomMom’s heart breaking here). Mr. Star Wars chose the classic Battleship game as the birthday gift for this party.
Battleship is a great game and gift. In fact, board games in general might be the answer to my gift dilemma for this age group. As a teacher, I completely approve of this choice. When kids play games, they reinforce great critical thinking and planning skills needed in the classroom. Socially, they learn to take turns, cooperate, and communicate with their opponents. Another great feature is the fact that a variety of ages can play together. Look for sales at Target or WalMart and pick up a few of these games to have on hand as a gift for your next birthday invitation.
Battleship: Players must understand coordinates and a grid. They also use the process of elimination to zero in on targets.
Hedbanz: Players activate background knowledge and categorize to ask questions that will narrow down options to arrive at an answer. It encourages targeted questioning and the ability to move from general to specific rather than haphazard guessing.
Apples to Apples: Participants take an adjective and consider scenarios where the word would be used to create a logical pairing from cards in the players’ hands. It requires vocabulary skills and understanding of context.
Trouble: Weigh pros and cons of moving the game piece out of the home base or advancing a piece that is already on the board. There is the opportunity to gauge risk and reward. We also really like the popping noise the plastic bubble makes when you press it to roll dice.
Boggle: This game tests a child’s bank of sight words as well as uses knowledge of all of the phonics rules and patterns. If a player is smart, he will locate a base word, then start to add rhyming words or endings (like IN to PIN to SPIN to SPINS) to generate bigger lists.
Connect 4: This game works well to help kids begin to anticipate different results of one move (cause and effect). A child can predict what will happen two or three moves out and adjust her choice. There is also a little bit of pattern sorting in this game too.
Monopoly: Budgeting, counting money, and making change!
Kanoodle: This pocket game contains colorful connected beads that are stacked into shapes. Players use lots of spatial thinking and logic to solve the puzzles.
Do you like to give games for birthday gifts? If so, what are good game choices?
One other tip– if you have games that your children do not play anymore, think about donating them to a classroom. I like to keep games in the back of my room for students who are early finishers or for a rainy day when we have indoor recess.
In my last post, I mentioned how I needed a crafty project to keep me busy on my spring break from school, and I started sewing petal pouches. “Crafty project” is really code for I-will-disappear-for-2-days-and-ignore-my-family-except-to-feed-them-while-I-get-lost-in-a-project.
Here is how it went down. I made two bags for a teacher appreciation gift I had in mind using materials I had on hand. Miss Priss and Mr. Star Wars wanted a bag too, so we bought some additional fabric and ribbon and made 2 of the large petal bags for them. I now had a small collection. The collection looked unfinished since I had not tried the smallest size bag possible in the pattern. I made two more bags in the mini size. Now, I had a set, but the set would be broken when I gave some of the bags away as gifts. I returned to Hobby Lobby for more material determined to make enough bags for a personal set and have some spares for gifts (and a giveaway??).
Jump to today. Petal bags cover my dining room table. I do have enough for my own set and some for gifts, so I am starting to relax a little just in time for school to start again tomorrow. These are my plans for the bags…
Teacher Appreciation Gift: School Manicure Set
clear fingernail polish (so it can be used to stop a run in your tights, fix a fraying shoelace, or other classroom emergencies)
nail clippers (great for snagged nails during the day)
tweezers (just in case someone gets a splinter)
Tween Gift: Trendy Manicure Set
fingernail polish in “ice cream” colors
nail art stickers
Emi-Jay-like hair ties (in the mini bag)
Baby Gift: Diaper Bag Dopp Kit
baby nail clippers
travel baby wipes
Pet Gift: Dog Treat Bag
TheRoomDog’s best friend is on the injured list, and we haven’t been able to get the dogs together for vigorous playdates, which greatly reduce TheRoomDog’s need for other activity– like eating pencils. We are trying to deliver the get well gift before the treats are gone. (Bad dog, Birdie.)
I am not sure what I was thinking when I did not include baby books as a suggestion for The Best Baby Gifts in my last post.
Board books are a great newborn baby and first birthday gift. The heavier page is sturdy and stands up to the wear and tear of a baby or toddler. They are specifically made to protect against drool damage. They are a good price point and wrap very well.
Many classic children’s picture books that were originally published in traditional hardback with paper pages are now available in a board book version too. Board books are typically not longer than 30 pages, so you may get an abridged version of the original book in the board book style. If you want to get your money’s worth, go for the board book version as a first book.
What books have you given as a baby or toddler gift?
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
Baby Faces and others by DK Publishing
The Cheerios Play Book by Lee Wade
Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and Big Red Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
Jamberry by Bruce Deegan
Moo, Ba, La La La! and Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
My Truck is Stuck by Kevin Lewis and Daniel Kirk
The Napping House by Audrey Wood
1 is One by Tasha Tudor
Open the Barn Door by Christopher Santoro
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Sheep in a Jeep and Sheep in a Shop by Nancy E. Shaw
Time for Bed by Mem Fox
Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and others by Eric Carle
We are at the height of the tiny pieces toy phase at my house. I will admit that I am often the one who supports the decision to purchase the toy that comes with a gazillion tiny pieces (Lego, Playmobil, Calico Critter…) because I love miniature playsets. WARNING: All of the suggestions below have many tiny parts and may cause injury if you step on them in the middle of the night.
Does anybody have any other tiny playset ideas? Does anybody have any suggestions for protecting yourself from late night injuries?
Kitchen Littles: These are food playsets that are made of die cast metal and plastic. Kitchen Littles was discontinued then reintroduced. I can’t tell if it has been discontinued again, but some of the sets are available if you run a Google search. The size is perfect for Barbie (or other 12″ doll), and the ones we have are much better quality than the Mattel/Barbie kitchen sets.
Calico Critters: These are tiny animal families with clothes and playsets. Visit the Calico Critters website to locate retailers. You can find about everything you might need for life with tiny woodland creatures. It is like the Brambly Hedge picture books come to life. The detailed pieces that come with each playset are amazing, but they are tiny, and you need to apply stickers to a lot of the accessories when setting up the playset.
Lego: We have many Lego sets, but sometimes the Legos in a set are too specific for building creatively. This year, I am visiting the online Pick a Brick store to purchase a generic set of Lego bricks that can be used to build anything we want. Lego used to have a DESIGN byME service where you could customize a Lego structure and then purchase the bricks needed to build your own design. That service has been discontinued but may be relaunched in the future.
Quadrilla: We found the Quadrilla marble sets a few years ago and have been adding supplemental tracks to it every few years. This is a great toy. The tracks are wooden and do not break easily. The sets come with track design suggestions, but it is very easy to build your own marble track.
I love anything personalized! After seeing a designer on Project Runway wear monogrammed t-shirts a few seasons ago, I purchased a stack of Gap t-shirts for all of the women on my holiday gift list. I stuck with basic colors (black and white) and had monograms added. I probably should have included my pre-teen niece too because she is a preppy girl, and this is a great gift for girls ages 10 and up. I will monogram just about anything. What would work well for my shopping list this year?
What to Do: Find cotton t-shirts that are a good weight. I like the Gap Essential Crewneck Ts because they are a little thicker and can hold the stitching of the monogram machine. I took my shirts to a local monogrammer. You may want to ask about having a fabric stabilizer added to the back of the shirt, so the monogram is stitched in evenly.
Styles: I chose 3 letter monograms for all of the shirts. Some shirts had the fancy cursive and some were more tailored. It just depended on the person receiving the shirt. I think 2 1/2 inches is a good height for the largest letter in the center.