Clever Toys and Books That Encourage Learning for All Ages

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This holiday season and beyond give the gift of toys and books that teach to encourage learning and fun for children of all ages.

Worldwide Buddies’ culture-in-a-box sets teach kids all about the customs and traditions that make various countries unique and special. The first Worldwide Buddies kit is full of Mexican treats—it includes a book, bilingual playing cards, a stuffed axolotl toy (the critically endangered underwater Mexican salamander), and various other games and activities that will keep kids entertained. The second culture package features China. It includes everything kids can learn about China, a Mandarin/English memory game and a fun, plush toy, Shui, an endangered spotted seal and more. All books and toys are designed to spark curiosity and encourage learning, as well as skill development through play. They all fall under the category of STEAM toys.

Kids will be excited to expand their palate beyond chicken nuggets and hot dogs to try Mexican arroz con pollo and Greek chicken souvlaki thanks to eat2explore. These fun “explorer boxes” from a dozen different countries provide tools for families to cook together, learn, and dine on different cuisines and cultures from around the world. The boxes can be purchased one box at a time, or through a monthly subscription. The great part is the boxes do not include perishable products, so you can use the included ingredients and cook when you have time. They provide three easy-follow-recipes and a shopping list to purchase proteins and vegetables of your choice, as well as including hard-to-find spices and sauces. Kids love to learn, and each eat2explore box comes complete with explore country brochure, activity sheet, country sticker, flag pin, and a fun collectible to learn more about the culture of the food they are cooking. Available at

Have a budding chef? With Happy Cooking Kits, children will learn how to cook, bake and prepare their own unique meals, snacks, and baked goods for hands-on excitement in the kitchen! Kidstir’s Happy Cooking Kits are a unique subscription service for children that can be joined or given as a gift, or you can send one of the single kits, as well. Each month, Kidstir will send your child a cooking kit filled with three delicious, nutritious recipes, kid-size cooking tools, games, and activities! With a focus on fresh, nutritious food and hands-on fun, Kidstir was created by moms who know that through cooking, children will gain important life skills in the kitchen — and cook up some fun family memories throughout the year! The Happy Cooking Kits are mailed to your doorstep each month and are available in a 1 month, 3 months, 6 months or 12-months subscription. Individual kits are available, as well.

Looking for some battery-free, no charger required fun and learning for the littles? My Little Farm (MLF) from SmartFelt Toys is an award-winning, interactive, multi-sensory educational toy that builds early language skills and vocabulary. Invented by a Speech Pathologist, this interactive toy has eight colorful panels that are fully reversible—a red barn exterior can be reversed to reveal a barn interior and colorful outdoor farm setting. It’s far more than just decorating a play farm – MLF comes with 32 soft and stick-able felt cut-outs that match outlines in the 8 rooms. As children are placing the felt pieces in each room, they are also discovering early language concepts, quantity, colors, shapes, and sizes. MLF comes in a sturdy carry-case (so giftable) and it includes a pamphlet with a handy primer on the educational and sensory language skills to instill through play. It is also endorsed by the Center for Autism Related Disorders and Autism Live.

Science before sparkles! Yellow Scope Science Kits will appeal to all kids, even those who might not realize they love science. They are the only science kits out there designed for girls ages 8-12. Three exciting science kits are available that will provide hours of critical thinking while having fun! These include NEW DNA & Traits: From Codes to Creatures, Paper Chromatography: The Art & Science of Color, Foundation Chemistry: Beakers & Bubbles and Acids, Bases & pH Chemistry: Explore Your World. A gift subscription is available, too.

Kids and hockey-lovers between 2nd and 6th grade will love the series “The Official Adventures.” Their brand-new book, “Drop the Puck: Everyday Every Way” was just released. What’s great about these books is that the stories and characters are based on real and inspiring kids and feature characters with special needs. Young readers will learn about sportsmanship, winning, losing, family, friends, and teammates. The Official Adventures Series is not just another children’s book about hockey. They are America’s hottest new children’s chapter books that are modernizing children’s literature. Available nationwide at Amazon, Target and Walmart

A hot tech gift this holiday season that’s parent-approved and loved by children is the Tanoshi 2-in-1 Kid’s Computer. It’s a computer and tablet in one device developed for children 6-12 years old who are ready for a real computer. It runs on Android 7.0 and has a 10.1″ HD detachable touch-screen plus a full-size children’s keyboard. It comes pre-loaded with Google Docs and Sheets so kids can conveniently do their homework, two pre-loaded apps (ScratchJr and Nancy Drew: Codes & Clues) teach kids how to code and hundreds of educational apps are ready to download from the Play Store. Kids will enjoy taking photos on the front and rear-facing camera. Tanoshi makes tech safety a top priority. It comes pre-loaded with the Family Link app so parents can easily manage screen time, approve or deny app downloads and remotely lock the device when screen time is up right from their cell phone. Available at Amazon.