Brain-stretching and body movin’ Christmas gift ideas for kids

21 Nov

Christmas is just around the corner. My boys have oodles of toys, so I’m always on the lookout for purposeful activities or games that can stretch their little brains or help burn some of their boundless energy. šŸ™‚ These are some of our favorites.

Stomp Rocket (or Stomp Rocket Jr. , which is cheaper!)–This is such a fun, fun toy! My son got it last year for Christmas, and we also bought it for my nephew. Most of the day, post-present opening, was spent with all of the family outdoors playing with the Stomp Rocket! The toy is, literally, what it says–you stomp on part of the contraption and the rocket goes sky high! We pull this out and use it in the backyard when I need the boys to burn off some energy; it’s perfect for that! Plus, everyone in the neighborhood usually comes to play, too! Everyone, boy or girl, young or old, loves this toy!

Dodge Tag by Diggin–This is another great toy! Again, when I need the boys to burn some energy during our school day, the 4 of us go into the backyard and play. Each set comes with 2 chest targets and six balls. The goal is to get the balls stuck on your opponents chest target. We actually bought 2 sets so that we can play in teams of 2 persons each. We play in 4 minute intervals. For 4 minutes, try to get as many stuck on your opponents chest targets as you can! At the end of 4 minutes, add up each team’s conquests. We usually do 4 to 5 cycles of this, and the team with the most points wins.

Melissa and Doug Monster Bowling-I like this bowling set because it’s plush not plastic, so it doesn’t sound like my house is being torn down when the boys play with it. šŸ™‚ Another HUGE plus is that it’s easy enough for the boys to set up the game by themselves. I’m all about independently run games @ the Mosley house. When we’re doing school, I can just set up a game like this for the other 2 boys while working individually with the 3rd son. The boys have fun, and I’m freed up for some one-on-one instruction time. Win-Win for all!

InsectLore LIVE Butterfly GardenThis is such a fun, fun, fun toy!! When you buy the Live Butterfly Garden, you get a coupon/voucher to mail in for FREE caterpillars. You mail in the voucher, the caterpillars arrive in your mailbox (isn’t that wild!??!?!), and you watch the process of the caterpillars becoming butterflies. This was one of my FAVORITE things we did last year with school. It was a truly amazing process to watch caterpillars be transformed into butterflies! We have such a creative Creator God!

Rush Hour Junior-I love any game by the folks at Think Fun! I first read about this game online. The game raved about how Rush Hour helps a child with deductive reasoning. As a parent, I loved the sound of that but wondered if my kids would actually enjoy playing such a game! ha! We got this game last year for our 4 year old, and it has been quite a hit for our entire family! The goal of the game is to get the Ice Cream truck out of the “Rush Hour” traffic jam. The game comes with 1 Ice Cream Truck, 14 other vehicles and 1 deck of Game Cards. Each round, you pick 1 Game Card and set up the board with the vehicles according to the layout on the Game Card. The goal is to move the vehicles north/south or east/west until a path is freed up for the Ice Cream truck to get out of the Rush Hour traffic jam. My boys really, really enjoy this game, and as a parent, I can sense the cultivation of their development of deduction skills. There is a “regular” Rush Hour (ages 8 and up), but as an adult, I had difficulty with some of the difficult-level Game Cards on Rush Hour Junior! šŸ™‚ One of my favorite things about this game is that 1 child can play it independently. Again, I often use this game during our school days. One son can play it while I’m working one-on-one with the other son. While I let my son play this during school time, I am confident that he’s learning and not just “being entertained” while I’m working with one of my other sons.

Rack-O-I played this game with my parents as a child. So, when I found an 1970s edition of it in my local thrift store (for a whopping 99 cents!), I snagged it up quickly! We started playing this about 2 years ago when my oldest son was finishing Kindergarten. I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly he picked up on it. The premise of the game is to order your numerical cards from least to greatest. The person that achieves this yells, “Rack-O!” This is a wonderful logic-focused, math-building game. My boys enjoy playing it, and they don’t realize that they’re learning at the same time! šŸ™‚ I love any game (as you can tell) that is exercising my sons’ brains but is also really, really fun. šŸ™‚ Besides exercising their brains with these games, they’re also realizing that learning is fun! That’s a Win-Win for this Mom!

Yahtzee-I have so many good memories of playing Yahtzee as a kid with my family. There are several Yahtzee Junior options, but we jumped headlong into “regular” Yahtzee with our boys. I love that this game, too, is aiding my sons’ math skills without them even realizing it! They have to add up the numbers on the dice for certain scoring options. They have to order dice from least to greatest. They have to find doubles or triples of numbers at other times in the game. This is a game that I can have 2 of my sons play together.Ā  Or, I can even have them play independently to try to “beat” Daddy’s score from a previous game (always a huge motivator!).

Guess Who?-This was another $1.00 find at my local Thrift Store! This was also another favorite game of mine as a little girl. I was excited to introduce it to my boys, and they quickly developed my same love for it. šŸ™‚ The premise of this 2 player game is to figure out which person your opponent has on his/her Guess Who card. Through a sequence of “yes or no” questions like “Does yours have a hat?” or “Is yours a girl?” each player slowly deduces the person on his/her opponent’s card. One of my favorite things about this game is that non-readers can play it! It’s helpful to be able to read the name of the person when you make your formal guess, “Is yours Sam?” My boys, though, have figured out ways to communicate their guesses before they were able to read the names. Another plus with this game is that set up and playing the game beginning to end is quick and easy. We loved this so much we got the Star Wars Guess Whoedition last year for Christmas.

Clue-My boys are still a little young to figure out a lot of the strategy behind Clue, but they still love playing the game. They love mysteries, and getting to “solve” a mystery with this game is so fun for them. Need I “sell” you on the deductive reasoning skills that this game cultivates? This was another favorite game of mine as a kid, so I love getting to play it with my boys. šŸ™‚

Stratego-My boys love knights, army, and all things “battle.” This is the board game edition of Capture the Flag. This 2 player game allows each player to strategically set up the flag as well as his supporting men, and the goal is to capture your opponent’s flag. A “plus” of this game is that non-readers can play it. My boys love it. We’ve had this game for about a year, and I played it with my middle son for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It’s quite addictive; I’m enjoying it as much as they do!

No Stress Chess-My oldest son loves playing with an old chess set at my parents. He really wants to learn how to play, but my chess skills are not that great. I found this on Amazon, and I think I read every review! Ha! It has great reviews as a game that instructs the function and rules of each piece and the game in general. Son #1 is getting this for Christmas, and I’m excited to learn with him how to actually play chess. The mind-stretching, brain-buildingĀ  nature of chess is obvious. Can’t wait to tackle this game with my son!

Read this post for Part 2 of this blog post.

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7 Responses to “Brain-stretching and body movin’ Christmas gift ideas for kids”

  1. terrikenworthy November 23, 2012 at 5:06 am #

    I love games and I loved reading all your reviews of these very fun games. I hadn’t heard of several of them, but it’s great to get ideas from other moms about what actually keeps their children engaged and entertained for more than just a few seconds. So thanks for the tips!

    • Suzanne Shares November 23, 2012 at 7:58 am #

      I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and that the reviews were helpful! šŸ™‚ You’ll have to let me know if you buy any for your kiddos and if they enjoyed them. šŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by and commenting! šŸ™‚

  2. Amanda G November 27, 2012 at 3:02 am #

    Thanks for the stomp rocket suggestion – I will have to look into that one. I would have to add a magnifying glass and “bug box” to this list! My 5-year-old has really enjoyed the Backyard Safari line of “explorer tools” and he frequently gets outside to catch grasshoppers, frogs, or whatever else he can find. This usually leads to a discussion about what that animal/bug likes to eat so that he can try to supply it for them. Also, we have a few Lauri puzzles that my 2-year-old uses for “preschool” time (but they’re also enjoyed by my 5-year-old – and me!), and I have been really impressed with them. They are made of crepe rubber, so they are actually washable! Also made in the U.S.A. Our two favorites are the Shape & Color Sorter and the Kids Puzzle.

    • Suzanne Shares November 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

      ooooooooooh! thanks for the ideas!!! I’ve not heard of the Lauri brand! I’ll definitely have to check these out!!!


  1. Brain-stretching, body movin’ Christmas ideas for kids (Part 2!) « Suzanne Shares - November 23, 2012

    […] @ Christmas and birthdays that stretch their wee little brains and keep their tiny bodies moving! Earlier in the week I wrote a LENGTHY list of such things that we enjoy at the Mosley […]

  2. Brain-Stretchin’, Body Movin’ Christmas ideas (Can you tell I’m the mother of ALL boys?!?!) | Suzanne Shares - November 10, 2013

    […] first post is a list of someĀ favorite, favorite, favoriteĀ games that our family enjoys. Yes, we have 3 boys, […]

  3. Brain-Stretchin’, Body Movin’ Christmas ideas (Can you tell I’m the mother of ALL boys?!?!) | Suzanne Shares - November 10, 2013

    […] first post is a list of someĀ favorite, favorite, favoriteĀ games that our family enjoys. Yes, we have 3 boys, […]

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