Edutaining Kids .COM                        2009 Holiday Gift Guides for Kids
Guide to Children's Products for Fun & Learning

 

   Gift Guide: Families 

 


The following handpicked products—including games, music, activities, and software—make wonderful family gifts. Every family needs a good electronic encyclopedia and an essential print shop—our favorites are included here. As well, we've recommended some board games and multi-generational music that everyone in the family will enjoy. Whether you are buying for your own family or someone else's, these products are sure to delight.

 

Top Gifts
for Families

10+ TOP PICKS

2014 EDITION

 

1

Apples to Apples Junior

This is our favorite family game to date. It is fabulously social, fun for all ages (even adults!), and offers a great time. Children attempt to find the best item that fits the given adjective from their hand of 5 cards. The judge determines which object is the best fit--and the results are often unexpected, depending on the personality and personal perception of the current judge/player! See our full review of the game here

Apples to Apples Junior 9+ is also an excellent game, featuring slightly more advanced vocabulary and topics. It also makes a great choice, although we do prefer the Junior version even for kids over the age of 9! See our full review of the game here.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Apples to Apples Junior or Apples to Apples Junior 9+ 2nd Edition at Amazon.com]

 

2

Quiddler

The premise, to get rid of cards from your hand, is simple, but the gameplay is such a hoot that families and older children will truly have a great time playing this inexpensive card game.

Players attempt to play their entire hand by forming words, picking up new ones in each round. The cards in Quiddler feature letters of the alphabet, mostly single letters but also letter combinations. This game is by the makers of SET, which is also an excellent game for families.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Quiddler at Amazon.com]

Qwirkle

Families might also enjoy Qwirkle--another simple, affordable game that entertains children and adults alike. It plays like a cross between Scrabble and SET. There's a bit of a learning curve involved at the outset, but once understood, older children and adults will enjoy strategizing and outwitting their oponents!

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Qwirkle Board Game at Amazon.com]

 

3

Nintendo Wii Gaming System

This fabulous new gaming system by Nintendo didn't fail to impress us. Gaming is truly a family affair with the Wii, a console that begs to be played. The Wii's controller is wireless and motion-sensitive. Selecting items on the TV screen is much like using a computer mouse--you point the controller to a "clickable" item and then press a button to select it. The system comes with a package of sports video games, Wii Sports, and includes bowling, tennis, boxing, and baseball. Kids and their parents create their own identity--a "Mii"--by selecting hair style and color, face shape, skin color, and so forth. These characters roam around and are featured in the sports games. Players can create their own family and friends, and, as Mom bowls, Dad and the kids cheer her on. Baseball teams consist of your own group of characters. Baseball is played by literally swinging the controller and imitating a pitch. Wii plays Nintendo Game Cube games as well as the new titles designed specifically for the Wii. A decent line-up of Wii games have already been released, but many kids will be waiting for more. Parents can purchase and download classic games for the NES, Super NES, and more older systems, right on-screen --they'll need to wirelessly connect to their wireless internet connection in order to do so. Eventually, families will be able to surf the web from their couch. It's a fantastic, appealing setup.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Nintendo Wii at Amazon.com]

Just Dance Kids for Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, and Playstation 3

This incredibly fun, interactive game series puts the video game console motion sensor functions to great use. The Just Dance Kids series of video games provide hours of entertainment, while simultaneously getting kids on their feet and moving. With a very impressive list of much loved (and child appropriate) songs and more than 40 different choreographed dances, kids imitate the dance moves of real children on the screen who go through the choreography with them. It is a definite hit for families and parties, with many different multi-player activities such as group dance routines and dance-offs. It is sure to get the entire family participating. The dances range in difficulty and have helpful ratings to differentiate between beginner dances and more challenging dances, which allows children to challenge themselves and gradually move forward as they improve, offering motivation to keep playing. However, some children may find the game frustrating if they try the more difficult levels without enough practice. Just Dance Kids is a huge hit among our kid testers, and is ultimately a great way to get kids moving and exercising on a day in. Our favorite of the game series is Just Dance Kids 2, which very narrowly beats Just Dance Kids and Just Dance Kids 2014.

Although the kids versions of the game can be very fun to follow along at any age and is absolutely excellent and long-lasting for younger children, older children may grow tired of the it more quickly when they outgrow the songs featured on the games. For older children and adults in the family, we recommend Just Dance 2014 (available for Wii, Wii U, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One) or Just Dance 3 (available for Wii, Xbox 360, and PS3). Both versions contain a multitude of classic hit songs as well as recent chart-toppers, offering something for everyone!

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Just Dance Kids 2, Just Dance Kids, Just Dance Kids 2014, Just Dance 2014, or Just Dance 3]

 

 

4

Kindle

KindleWhile we can read electronic books stationed at a computer or laptop, it just doesnít feel right if we do it for too long. The Kindle allows users to read books, news, blogs, and more in a more "natural" way. The Kindle wireless reader by Amazon is a well-designed device that allows users to read full-length (or shorter!) books wirelessly. Its overall design -- size, "grippability", and wireless features -- all support reading in a natural way, whether itís curled up on the couch, in bed, or on a bus. Its screen is sharp and high-res, and there isnít any backlighting to interfere with reading in sunlight for example, so readability is fantastic. The Kindle is also very lightweight and easy to use. You donít have to find ďhotspotsĒ in order to connect to the Internet. Wireless connectivity is similar to that of a cell phone, except you donít have to pay for the wireless service. Kindle books can be downloaded directly from and to the Kindle through Amazonís service. You can literally order a book through Amazon and start reading it within a minute -- itís automatically delivered wirelessly to the Kindle. Most Kindle books are 9.99 and less. There are also blog, news, and magazine subscriptions to download to your special device. With the Kindle, you can subscribe to your favorite magazine, whether itís Time or Readerís Digest, read many popular full-length books, turn on your Kindle in the morning and start reading your favorite newspaper right away, and stay up to date with the latest posts on your favorite blog. Kindle can read books in Mobipocket or text formats, HTML docs, Audible.comís audiobooks, and includes some MP3 support as well. So, you are not only limited to Amazonís marketplace for material to read through your Kindle. Besides its functionality and portable design, the Kindle wonít wow you with color or video, yet itís rather pricey, so keep this in mind. It does what it sets out to do very well, however.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Kindle 3G Wireless Reading Device at Amazon.com]

 

 

5

 

Frozen by Disney/Pixar

This excellent, progressive animated musical was the talk of the town- and for good reason! Once again, Disney/Pixar excels at creating a heartwarming story that can resonate with people of all ages. The film follows two sisters, Anna and Elsa, who have been separated by the huge family secret that Elsa has the power to turn anything to ice. When would-be queen Elsa runs away from the city after this secret power is made public, Anna's love for her sister leads her on a journey to bring her back. This film is packed with both emotional and laugh-out loud moments, lovable characters, and twists that will keep the whole family on their toes. Ultimately, it is a film about the love between family, which makes it a truly great pick to watch as a family. The music featured in this film, including Broadway star Idina Menzel's award winning "Let It Go", is absolutely spectacular and sticks with you long after you finish watching the film, much like the music in classic Disney films such as The Lion King. We definitely recommend the Frozen Official Soundtrack for family sing-alongs and great music that the whole family will love to put on repeat!

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Frozen (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD + Digital Copy) and/or Frozen Official Soundtrack at Amazon.com]  

 

UP - The Movie by Disney/Pixar

It's completely original, warm, humorous, and really not your typical, cliched fare--Up will delight the entire family. A 78 year old is the star of a movie designed for kids? Who would have thought, but it works.

Ed Asner provides the voice for the balloon-selling unlikely hero who is hell-bent on making the trip that his now deceased wife and he had dreamt of making. Very "uplifting", although at times very emotional, and sure to please as a gift the whole family will enjoy.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: UP (Two-Disc Deluxe Edition + Digital Copy) or Up (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + BD Live) [Blu-ray] at Amazon.com]  

 

 

Toy Story 3 by Disney/Pixar

The third installment of Toy Story, the wonderful and groundbreaking franchise by Pixar, is definitely just as magical as the first two. Toy Story 3 is sure to keep the whole family entertained. The characters are as colorful as ever, and the new character additions are welcomed with open arms. Haven't seen the first two movies of the franchise? No problem! It is easy to be entertained by the wonderful family film even if you aren't familiar with the characters. Toy Story 3 is engaging, touching and sure to have the whole family giggling all the way through.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Toy Story 3 (DVD or Toy Story 3 (Four-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo + Digital Copy) at Amazon.com]  

 

6

Rubik's Cube 360

A circ ular twist to the favorite "cube", the Rubik's Cube 360 will stump and delight kids and adults alike. The Rubik's Cube seems to reinvent itself each year, and we are quite pleased with this new update, although it doesn't resemble the original cube very much anymore! It is certainly less challenging, making it more accesible to the younger and more impatient members of the family.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Rubik's 360 at Amazon.com]

 

 

20Q by Radica Games


Here's a game tweeners and their parents will enjoy. This electronic toy attempts to guess, in 20 questions or less, what the player is thinking. Players answer the questions by pressing buttons that read "Unknown", "Yes", "No", or "Sometimes". The toy's ability to guess the answers is almost always surprising, and the game gets lots of laughs. The teasing commentary is cute at first, although it gets old fast. Otherwise, this game is great fun, and portable. Very entertaining!

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Radica 20Q Artificial Intelligence Game at Amazon.com]

 

7

USAopoly Planet Earth Monopoly

As gorgeous as the photography is on this special edition Monopoly game, the game itself remains essentially the same...and so be it! Monopoly, of course, is a classic. We like it because of the time investment in the game. Most board games today cater to a child's short attention span rather than engaging and involving them over time. Includes rare photography.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: USAopoly Planet Earth Monopoly at Amazon.com]


UpWords

This classic board game is loosely based on Scrabble, but it's a little easier to play and to score. If youíre not already familiar with the game, players spell words on the game board grid using their letter tiles in order to score points. The twist here is that thereís a third dimension to game-play Ė- letters are stackable, so that lone can not only become alone, but also long or along. An easy scoring system is understandable for people of all ages. UpWords is a great board game for families to share, and it's affordable too.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Scrabble Upwords at Amazon.com]

 

8


Electronic Pictionary Man Game

Expanding upon the long-time favorite Pictionary experience, the Electronic Pictionary Man Game adds charades, electronic interactivity and props to the equation. Players receive electronic clues from the bottom of the Pictionary Man's foot, and the player must draw and act out the subject on the three props, the Man, a rectangular prop, and a cylindrical prop. Drawing on a man, and using props may seem weird at first, but you will soon see that it works. It attracts attention attention and gets family members involved. Turning Pictionary "electronic" of course means the usage of batteries, but that's a small price to pay for this fabulous new version of a tried and true game. It also means you don't have to deal with playing cards!

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Electronic Pictionary Man Game at Amazon.com]

 

Pick Me Up (Book)

This unique and fabulous book is perfect for the coffee table in the homes of any family with children ages 9 and up. Called a "shuffle-pedia", Pick Me Up is a different kind of encyclopedia--very visual and mixed up. Shuffling through the graphically rich pages is fun and totally addictive. Kids learn diverse facts as they shuffle. Most importantly, they'll want to shuffle through. History, geography, science, natural history, and plenty of miscellaneous facts are all here. One spread asks, "While you were at school today, what were kids (age 12) doing in other parts of the world?" Other topics include "Was Freud a bit bonkers?", "How to tell when someone (really) likes you", "Why do Boats Float?", and "What are you standing on?" Truly fabulous!

[For user reviews, or to buy: Pick Me Up at Amazon]

 

Window Art

This fun and easy art activity is appropriate for the whole family. The premise of Window Art is simple, but the results are nothing short of fabulous: slip an included plastic sheet over one of the book's pages of templates, use a black squirt-bottle to trace the outline of a design, then fill with more squirtable color. Each design--whether it's a family of colorful bugs, an ice cream sundae, or a collection of underwater creatures--takes about 24 hours to dry. Once set, the design becomes "clingable"--ready to display on any window of the house. The results are positively vibrant. Your windows (and view) will never look better.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Window Art (Klutz) at Amazon.com] 

 

10Smart Mouth

Family time is fun with a good game! Smart Mouth is exciting and educational. Its rules are simple: players use the Letter Getter that randomly "draws" two letters. The first player to call out a word that begins and ends with these letters wins the tiles.  

 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Smart Mouth at Amazon.com]

 

 


More Excellent Choices:

 

 

 

Top Pick for families. Instead of dealing with screens that take you through numbers and terms like "white balance", a digital camera like the Kodak EasyShare C1530, which uses easy-to-understand language that holds users' hands through what can otherwise be a rather complex task, is refreshing. Its 14 MP resolution and 3X optical zoom (stabilized) means sharp images. Families can have fun experimenting with its multiple modes (for example, sport for action shots, bright for bright beach scenes, etc.). The EasyShare line of cameras are easy enough for a child to use, as well as sturdy and not too expensive. This camera is ideal for preteens and teens, as well as for adults, making it a fantastic choice for families.

Another inexpensive option in the Kodak EasyShare line is the Kodak EasyShare 10.2MP Digital Camera - Silver (C180).

[Buy Kodak C1530 Digital Camera (Red) or the Kodak EasyShare 10.2MP Digital Camera - Silver (C180) at Amazon.com]

 

Blink

If you're looking for an especially quick, fast-paced game, Blink will fit the bill. As they try to play all of their cards, players need to quickly match cards by shape, color, or count. This game requires coordination and visual perception, but the rules can be learned instantly. It's appropriate for almost all ages. 

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Blink Game at Amazon.com]

 

 

Explorer Globe

LeapFrog's Explorer Globe is a fantastic learning globe with a touch-sensitive pen. Kids (and adults) use the pen to explore the globe, picking up geography facts as they do. Kids can listen to musical samples, learn facts about population, discover the time in different parts of the world, and more. Fun games allow kids to test their knowledge--in fact, the games reinforce geography in a powerful manner. This is a fantastic tool for learning--it's responsive and fun for kids, and sophisticated enough to impress adults as well. We have had the original release of this globe for over 4 years now--it is still turned to repeatedly and has held up exceptionally well.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy Explorer Globe Amazon.com]

 

 
 

Handmade Cards

This beautiful, all-in-one book/activity set provides the instructions, supplies, and inspiration for families to make their own greeting cards and stationery! Along with a colorful book, the set includes gorgeous, high-quality paper, a handy measuring grid, folding tool, and reusable card templates. Instructions for projects ranging from basic cards to origami are included. In between, you'll find photo "easels", 3D cards, pop-up cards, little paper boxes, a pretty daisy card, envelopes, and more. Handmade Cards is published by Klutz Press, one of our favorite companies for unique and fun books and activity kits. See more Klutz sets in our article.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Handmade Cards: Simple Designs for... at Amazon.com]

 


coverTrivial Pursuit DVD Pop Culture

This all-new multimedia version of a popular trivia board game includes 2,400 game cards for traditional gameplay as well as 600 questions on an included DVD. The theme is pop culture--with the categories "Buzz", "Movies", "Music", "Fads", "Sports/Games" and "Television", kids will have a fighting chance playing against their parents! Tried and true fun, with a contemporary multimedia twist.

[For more information, user reviews, or to buy: Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture DVD Game at Amazon.com]

 


 
 

 


Scrap Metal Sculptures 

Looking for a gift that is a little unusual, but very fun and even educational? Hogwild's Scrap Metal Sculptures are unique building toys. Pictured at left is Gadget, a posable magnetic cat. This cat and her dog relative, Gizmo, are held together by three strong bar magnets inside their tin box torsos. Kids under 9 mayl need help, but their parents will likely enjoy giving them a hand. This is a unique and creative kit. See our full review of Scrap Metal Sculptures.

 

   

Need more gift ideas? See the current top sellers at Amazon today (updated daily):

BestSellers in Toys (Updated Hourly)

 


 

Amazon's Holiday Toy List 2012

Just Released: Hot Toys at Walmart.com

 

See Also:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Need more gift ideas? See the current top sellers at Amazon today (updated daily):

BestSellers in Toys (Updated Hourly)

Amazon's Holiday Toy List

 



 


Amazon's Holiday Toy List


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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