Gift Guide:  Picks for Kids 9 & Up - Archive

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Technologically savvy and notoriously harder to please, kids ages 9 and up require extra attention when selecting software and gifts that will truly engage and hold their interest. Fortunately, we've found a few pleasers. We've included topnotch software, activity sets, books, toys, and audio products that kids will love receiving--and adults will love giving.

Creativity Activities & Books

Top Pick For girls who love to pamper themselves, The Body Book is an exceptional set. Featuring natural body care tips and recipes, this book also comes with an exciting pack of supplies to get started--a face brush, scented oils, nail brush, pumice stone, nail buffer, and more. This gorgeous full-color spiral-bound book emphasizes good nutrition without being preachy, and offers one satisfying recipe after another. A sugar scrub for your feet or hands contains sugar, oil, and juice from a lemon; a peaches-and-cream hand mask is another all-natural 3-ingredient pleaser; and the strawberry salt rub is a luxurious and fragrant concoction designed to slough off dead skin cells, moisturize, and energize. This is a fantastic set that adults will love too. In the long run, kids will save money by making body care products at home. [Buy The Natural Beauty Book (Klutz) at for approximately $16-22 US]

Top Pick For creative kinds, A Book of Artrageous Projects makes a fantastic gift. Filled with art starters and packaged with supplies to get started, this spiral bound book contains inspiration like no other. Even the cover itself can be used for an art project--it's a sheet of copper designed to be used for an embossing activity. Collages, stained glass, painting, and more. [Buy Book of Artrageous Projects at for approximately $14-20 US]

Fairies: Petal People You Make Yourself is another Klutz book-and-supply set for kids ages 9 and up. Supplies to make 12 adorable and intricate little fairies are here, along with a fabulously inspiring little spiralbound book of ideas and instructions. Fairies are made up of assorted (and included) beads and dressed up with flower petals (also included). Kids use the colored pencils to add details to the fairies' bead-faces. Fairy bodies consist of beads that are strung together with the set's floral wire. Instructions and full-color photos demonstrate the techniques. Kids can opt to make easier petal people, or get more involved with intricate details. [Buy Fairies : Petal People You Make Yourself for approximately $13-16 US]

Yet another outstanding Klutz product is Super Slappies : Make Your Own Animal Bracelets. Slappies are all the rage-- they are bracelets that you actually slap onto your wrist. This set allows kids to make animal slappies--fuzzy and fancy bracelets that girls will be proud of, especially when they have made them all by themselves. Our favorite bracelet was also the easiest to make--a delightfully fuzzy purple caterpillar with googly eyes you can wear on your wrist! You can buy ready-made Slappies too, but making them is way more fun! [Buy Super Slappies : Make Your Own Animal... at for approximately $13-18 US] 


 Sure-to-Please Software Games 

Top Pick The latest title in the Incredible Machine series may be the best one yet. Incredible Machine Even More Contraptions features 250 new puzzles, taking the form of mind-bending contraption challenges. It is an addictive game of trial-and-error as players work through zany puzzles that become progressively more involving as levels advance. With pleasing graphics, and the option to play head-to-head, this title is a must-buy for puzzle lovers ages 9 through adult. It makes an extra special gift for all those kids (and adults) who love to tinker. [Buy The Incredible Machine: Even More... for approximately $30 US]

Hoyle Kids Games is a set of well-designed and fun games, mostly of the tried-and-true variety. We've seen games like Hangman, Checkers, and Snakes & Ladders time and time again, but never quite this way. Kids and parents alike will love this collection of time-tested games, gussied up for today’s technologically demanding kids. Play checkers on lily pads in a pond – and with an alien, no less. It's good old-fashioned fun with a 21st century twist. A sure bet. [Buy Hoyle Kids Games 2002 for approximately $30 US]

Top Pick The highly anticipated sequel to the ground-breaking classic Logical Journey of the Zoombinis is here. Zoombinis Mountain Rescue contains all-new logic puzzles and fun 3D graphics. Some activities resemble ones found in the original title, and others challenge the brain in new and exciting ways. Focus is on mathematical thinking for the Information Age. This one is harder than the original, but besides its challenge, it is sure to please kids with an interest in computer programming and others who simply enjoy logic puzzles. [See our review. Buy Zoombinis Mountain Rescue for approximately $25 US]

Top Pick In Nancy Drew Treasure in the Royal Tower, children ages 12 and up get the opportunity to step into teen sleuth Nancy Drew's shoes as she explores an old castle, interviews mysterious characters, and solves logic puzzles. It's exciting, challenging, and involving. Kids will love the chance to play detective. [See our review. Buy Nancy Drew Treasure In The Royal Tower for approximately $20 US]


 Video Games

Tired of Pokemon, but itching for similar game-play? Dragon Warrior Monsters II may be just the answer. This game for the GameBoy Color and Advance units allows kids to collect and breed monsters, and trade them with their friends. Two versions are available, though there is very little difference between the two--Tara's Adventures and Cobi's Journey. This is a noticeably improved version of the original, and kids will love it. [See what 11-year-old kid-tester Justin has to say about it on Justin's Page. Buy Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Cobi's Journey and Dragon Warrior Monsters 2: Tara's... at for the GameBoy platform] 


A Starter Digital Camera for Kids

An ideal starter camera for children is the Jam Cam 3.0. This durable entry-level digital camera allows kids to snap photos, load them on their computer, edit them, and then store or publish them. Its durability means you can feel confident placing it in the hands of your child, which in turn helps build confidence and pride. Note, though, that the results are far from perfect--young kids won't mind, but older ones may balk at the quality. [See our review. Buy KB Gear JamCam 3.0 Digital Camera (Blue) at]


 Electronic Learning Toy

Top Pick LeapFrog's Explorer II 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. [Buy Explorer Globe II for approximately $99 US]


Audio & Video

For Shrek fans, the Shrek Soundtrack makes a nice gift. Kids will love the get-up-and-go song All Star (by Smash Mouth), the cute Like Wow sung by Aaron Carter, and the two good-mood renditions of I'm a Believer from Smash Mouth and the movie's donkey (Eddie Murphy). [Buy Shrek (Soundtrack) at; buy the video Shrek for approximately $16 US]

Treat your kids to A Classical Kids Christmas--a beautiful combination of Christmas story-telling, carols, classical music, and poetry. Kids are reminded of the true meaning of Christmas in this magical recording. [Buy A Classical Kids Christmas] 


Board Games

Cranium is a "whole-brain" game designed for kids older than 12 and adults. Its variety of activities and questions is its most impressive feature. Players form teams and compete to get to the purple brain at the center of the board called Cranium Central. They might have to answer multiple-choice questions, act out something for others to guess, or sculpt a mystery object from clay. It's a fun and engaging game. [Buy Cranium for approximately $35 US]

Cranium's Cadoo is the kiddie version of the game. Questions and activities are kid-friendly, as the game is designed for kids ages 8 and up. Cadoo's variety of activities will appeal to young children. It's perfect for times when you want the kids to have fun away from their computer and video games--and the game is a giggling-good time. [Buy Cranium Cadoo for Kids at for approximately $20 US]



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