Summer Bridge Workbooks ~ Best Workbooks Prevent Summer Slide

summer bridge workbooks

Updated:

When my son finished kindergarten, I overheard someone ask his teacher about summer bridge workbooks. While my kids did workbooks, I’d never heard of summer slide and summer enrichment.

According to NWEA, for kids in 3rd – 8th grades, students lose skills in math and reading. They went on to explain for students who’ve just competed third grade, students lose 27% of their school gains in math and 20% in reading.

They discovered summer learning loss increases with age through kids’ elementary and middle school years. For students who just finished seventh grade, students lost 50% of their gains in math and 36% in reading over the summer.

My kids have been doing summer bridge workbooks ever since.

While they rarely want to do them, they are used to it. The workbooks are set up so they just have to do two pages a day which makes it very doable.

Summer bridge workbooks

These Carson-Dellosa Summer Bridge Activities workbooks are ideal. No matter when your kids start them, they will help reinforce and increase your child’s mastery of skills. In some cases, these workbooks will introduce and teach new concepts.

No matter what your school district’s curriculum or whether they follow Common Core, there are grade-level standards students should know.

Kids only have to do two pages a day for 60 days. Maybe the kids skip some days; that’s okay. The idea is they aren’t going all summer without some enrichment.

These books bridge the gap from the grade your child just completed and the one he/she will start after summer break. The goal is to minimize summer slide and the academic progress they’ve made.

We’ve bought them from K to 1st up to 7th to 8th grade and have been pleased with each book.

These workbooks have been worth the cost — even if my kids didn’t complete every page over the summer. Think of the price of a tutor; this is a fraction of the cost.

We have been happy with each bridge workbook from Carson-Dellosa. They also have one from PreK to K.

Helping for standardized tests

These are great books to help keeps kids’ minds sharp for the standardized tests that many schools give early in the school year.

While tests like the CogAT don’t measure grade-specific skills and content, using these bridge books over the summer help kids remain in a problem-solving mindset.

Why use summer bridge workbooks

These workbooks help bridge the gap between whatever grade your child just completed to the grade they will enter when school resumes after summer break. They keep kids engaged over the summer.

You will know your child is prepared to start the next grade.

The problems and questions are rigorous enough to make your child think but not so difficult to cause frustration.

My son, who is going into 8th grade, just started Day 1 yesterday. The first six questions instruct them to figure out the area and volume. He said they just reviewed this for their state test in the spring.

He quickly set to work on the problems. Interestingly, he knew how to compute the volume but not the area. It was great to see him figure out the problems and be challenged by it, not discouraged. It’s likely he will now know this for the future. This was all from the first six problems on Day 1!

On the second page for Day 1, there were a series of analogies. These are the same types of questions students see on the CogAT test.

For those who are interesting in helping their children prep for standardized tests, these workbooks are great ways to give kids practice with problems to solve.

What’s great about these summer workbooks

There are many wonderful things about these educational workbooks.

It’s different every day

One of the best parts is while they cover all the subjects over the month, there are different subjects and activities each day.

Some workbooks are divided by subject (a math section, a grammar section, a reading comprehension section, etc.). The beauty of these books is there is a mix.

Your child won’t have to do math, history, spelling or science every day. There is always a combination of subjects and types of questions. Your kids will have to read the directions, because they will differ.

This keeps it interesting and helps keep them engaged.

summer bridge workbooks
Kids work on different skills each day.

One day, the child will complete a math section. On the next page, it may ask for the student to circle the incorrectly spelled words. Then, she may have to write different types of sentences such as “write a complex sentence” and “write a compound sentence with a prepositional phrase.”

It’s very doable

Really, there are just two pages a day. Your kids will learn and also feel proud they accomplished something.

Maybe you give them a week off when they get out of school or when you go on vacation. Maybe they don’t do the workbooks on the weekends.

It’s really up to you, and it’s best to be flexible. Again, doing any of the workbook pages is better than nothing.

summer bridge workbook 5 6
reading comprehension page on left

There’s lots of white space. The font size is good. They use color often. Your kids shouldn’t be overwhelmed with these.

Focuses on reading

When you read about summer slide, much of the focus is on the importance of reading over the summer.

Reading and reading comprehension is interspersed throughout these workbooks.

Lets you know what kids need help in

One of the best parts for our family is there have been many times in these workbooks when my kids struggled.

For whatever reason, my kids didn’t learn the material in a certain section. Maybe the teacher didn’t cover it, maybe my child didn’t understand or remember it, or maybe my child was out that day.

This was a great opportunity for me to be sure they understand the material. This is practical summer learning not just busywork.

Reminds parents to reinforce skills

These workbooks have been good reminders of things to discuss over the summer.

Because of these workbooks, I had my kids practice their times tables in the car. We’ve practiced telling time. We talked about North South East West.

Starts interesting conversations

These bridge workbooks have inspired us to have conversations about many different things.

In one of the books there was a section about Greek gods and goddesses. The students were to use clues to complete a crossword puzzle. My kids loved the Rick Riordan books so this was fun for them to do together to apply what they remembered from the books.

On the next page, there were pictures of world landmarks. The instructions were to match the landmark with the picture and write down the country the landmark is in. This got us all talking about some of the landmarks. We spent the afternoon learning more about some of them online.

There have been many times we talked about a passage, subject or questions from these workbooks.

Keeps kids’ minds sharp

Keeping kids engaged over the summer — by just doing two pages a day — will help them remember what they studied the previous year.

In many cases, it will be a review for them — just presented in a different format — and a way for them to apply the skills they should have learned.

summer bridge workbook 6 7

These workbooks have encouraged critical thinking and problem solving skills throughout the summer.

Covers many subjects

Your child will strengthen his or her skills in reading comprehension, math, spelling, writing, social studies, geometry, measurement, science and more.

In many instances, subjects overlap. For example, there may be a reading passage about something in history or science. Your child will benefit from the reading practice while learning about something in history, while building reading comprehension skills.

Children will gain exposure to following directions, maps, vocabulary, telling time, finding volume, converting ounces to pounds, fractions, longitude and latitude, measurement, climate, interpreting charts and graphs, statistics, learning about the importance of being active, and so much more.

Skills Matrix

There is a Skills Matrix toward the front of the workbook which will show you the skills the book covers each day.

Examples in the summer bridge workbook 3 to 4, in Section One:

Day 1 covers Problem Solving, Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary.

Day 2 covers Multiplication and Division, Numbers, Punctuation & Capitalization, and Word Study.

And then:

Day 3 covers Addition & Subtraction, Language Arts & Writing, Multiplication & Division, and Prefixes & Suffixes.

Day 4 covers Graphing & Probability, Language Arts & Writing, Parts of Speech, and Problem Solving.

Other skills your child will review throughout the workbook include Character Development, Fitness, Fractions, Geometry, Measurement, Place Value, Reading Comprehension, Science, Sentence Structure, Social Studies, and Spelling.

Skills Matrix for older grades

Wondering about the older grades?

The Skills Matrix in the summer bridge workbook 6 to 7 includes:

Addition & Subtraction, Algebra & Ratios, Capitalization & Punctuation, Character Development, Data Analysis & Probability, Decimals & Percentages, Fitness, Fractions, Geometry & Measurement, Language Arts, Multiplication & Division, Parts of Speech, Problem Solving, Puzzles, Reading Comprehension, Science, Sentence Types & Structure, Social Studies, Usage, and Writing.

Offers writing prompts

In school, kids often spend a lot of time doing reports and “writing” on the computer instead of actually handwriting. I’m always happy for the chance for my kids to be creative and boost their handwriting skills.

The writing prompts in these summer workbooks are age appropriate and interesting. They include a few lines for kids who may not enjoy writing and include the option to continue the writing on a separate piece of paper for children who have lots they want to write about.

The section may ask the child to write something from experience, from their imagination, something they may have learned, or to write an ending to a story.

Here are some examples of the writing prompts in these books:

Summer bridge workbooks 3 to 4 

“What would you do if you woke up with green hair?”

“Write about your experience of learning how to do something new. Who helped you? What did you learn? Share your story using a logical sequence of events.”

Summer bridge workbooks 4 to 5

“You go for a walk one day and find a a large, golden egg with green spots. Suddenly, it begins to shake and crack.”

The child is supposed to use the steps to finish the story.

Another in the 4th to 5th grade book is: “Make a list of things that use electricity. Then, write about what you think life would be like without electricity.”

Summer bridge workbooks 5 to 6

“Invent a new ice cream flavor. How is it made? What will you call it? Describe your new flavor.”

“Write a review of a book you have read, telling whether you liked it or disliked it. State your opinion clearly and give specific reasons to support it.”

Summer bridge workbooks 6 to 7

“You have been offered a round-trip ride in a time machine and can travel any distance into the past. What time period would you want to travel to? Why?”

We really like that the kids have the choice to use another sheet of paper if they need more space. In this way, it’s doable for the reluctant writer, yet a child who loves writing can write as much as he or she wants to.

The material and prompts are relevant to your child’s grade level.

Teaches in a fun way

While these are workbooks to prevent summer learning loss, they have been a great way for kids to master skills in math, writing, reading, and more.

Beginning of the book

Skills Matrix: See above.

Summer Reading List: Offers fiction and non-fiction books for the age and grade level.

Three sections

There are three sections, each with 20 days of lessons. Each day contains two pages for kids to complete.

Beginning of each section

Each section starts with three monthly goals your child can set for himself. They give examples such as reading for 20 minutes each day, exercising for 30 minutes a day, etc.

There is also a Word List. They include a list of words that your child will see in the next section. They encourage students to review the words and to use a dictionary for the definition of words they don’t know.

The children are encouraged to come up with two sentences from the word list and write them down.

Bonus pages

There are Bonus pages at the end of each section.

In one of the workbooks, there is a chart for kids to determine their heart rate from doing push ups, jumping jacks, etc. They are instructed to count the number of beats in six seconds. Then, they are to multiply by 10 to compute their heartbeats per minute.

All the while, they are getting physical activity, learning about using a chart, learning about health, and doing math.

Another activity in the bonus section is a map with time zones in the United States. Children can answer questions about figuring out what time it is in different parts of the country.

learning geography
Bonus pages

summer slide workbooks

There are so many enriching workbook bonus pages filled with interesting topics would will want your kids to know about.

Back of the book

In the back of the book there are extra opportunities to help enrich your child.

Flashcards

All the books — even the summer bridge workbook 7 to 8 — have flashcards kids can cut out and reference.

The cards cover various subjects, including colors, vocabulary words, homophones, words with Greek and Latin roots, geometry terms, factors of a number, prefixes, suffixes, math concepts, spelling words, practice math problems, and more.

Stickers

The books from summer bridge PreK to K through summer bridge 4th to 5th have stickers to put on a chart so your child can track his/her progress.

The workbooks from 5th to 6th and higher do not include the stickers.

Certificate

All of them, even the summer bridge workbook 7 to 8, have a colorful award certificate at the end of the book.

Answers

The answers are organized by day and page and are color coordinated by the first, second or third section. They are easy to follow, find and understand.

Answer key

Before my kids “are finished” they have to show me the workbooks, and I check the answers.

At times, we check them together. It’s a nice way to spend time with them reviewing what they learned and talking about anything they had questions about.

Everything you need is in the bridge workbook

While at the end of each Bonus section there is the opportunity to “take it outside” or do a science experiment with mostly-easily-found materials, the vast majority of the book is right on the pages.

All your kids really need is a pencil and the workbook — that’s it.

Reviews what they should have learned

State standards often change. Maybe your child moved and changed schools. Maybe your child was sick and missed important lessons. Perhaps the teacher didn’t teach everything.

summer bridge workbook 3 4

Regardless, these lessons help kids get the chance to further apply what they learned and master it or to learn it for the first time.

It’s difficult during the school year to know the areas in which your child may have struggled. These workbooks touch on multiple subjects in different contexts so you can be sure they understand the material they should have learned during the most recently-completed school year.

Bridges the gap from one grade to the next

These bridge workbooks help ensure your child has mastered what she should have learned in the grade she just completed.

It helps keep her skills sharp and her mind working and learning over the summer so she will be ready to absorb what she needs to learn in her next school year.

Takes just 15 – 20 minutes

There are 24 hours in a day — surely we can carve out a few minutes for my kids to sit down and do these workbooks.

Some days we can’t or don’t, and that’s okay.

There are 60 days to complete and our summer break is 70 days.

Some summers, my kids don’t finish their bridge books, and that’s okay too. I’m happy for what they were able to complete because it’s better than nothing.

workbooks to prevent summer learning lossprevent summer slide

Depending on your child’s age and grade, some days it may take 15 minutes. Other days, closer to 25. It depends on your child’s focus and strengths in the subject that day.

These books are designed to be done fairly quickly so it won’t be a struggle to get your kids to do them.

Great bridge workbook for 7th and 8th grades

Many workbooks are for younger students. This series goes as high as bridging from 7th grade to 8th grade.

Bridge workbook 7 to 8

The Summer Reading List includes a long list of fiction and non-fiction books. It also reminds students to read for a minimum of 30 minutes each day.

Summer learning loss increases as students get older, so it’s important to keep them engaged over the summer. Again, these books are meant to be doable and take just 15 – 20 minutes each day.

Know that there is a lot of white space. Your child should not find these workbooks overwhelming. They are presented so they are not intimidating and will not frustrate your child before he/she begins.

Bridge workbook 7 to 8
Bridge workbook 7th to 8th grade

The workbooks are designed so the child can finish each day, be proud of that, and feel a sense of satisfaction.

The goal is to get ready for 8th grade by keeping their skills sharp.

Bridge workbook 7 to 8 Day 1

Here are examples of what your child will get to experience.

The first day starts with measurement. Kids need to “Find the surface area or volume of each rectangular prism.” There are six questions.

Next, they work on grammar. Teens are to read the passage, underline each noun, and draw three lines under each letter that should be capitalized.

On the second page for Day 1, teens work on vocabulary and science.

First, they are to circle the letter next to the word that correctly completes each analogy. There are five questions. The first is:

dessert : rain forest :: ___________ : ravine

A. ocean  B. canyon  C. plateau  D. mountain

This type of reasoning question is what students see on their standardized tests, including the CogAT.

The second activity on the second page tells students to “Write the letter of the word from the word bank that completes each sentence.” There are seven questions. These are science questions.

Three examples are:

In the first state of cell reproduction, the ________ disappears.

The period of time when a cell grows and copies its DNA is called _______.

Plant cells use _______ to capture sunlight.

Even if your teenager doesn’t know all the science terms in the word bank, he or she will use reasoning and process of elimination to figure out the answers.

The best part is that this is all enrichment — it’s not graded.

If your teen struggles in this section or in any other section, he/she can take some time over the summer when things are less hectic to learn the material. During the school year, it’s difficult to take this extra time to really understand the concepts. Students are often rushing to complete assignments and turn them in on time.

Variety of skills each day

In addition to truly being able to master concepts they may be unfamiliar with or not understand fully, they may become more interested in a subject and have the time to pursue it in greater depth.

Summer bridge 7 to 8 Day 2

The second day, your teenager will strengthen his/her skills in geometry and language arts.

There are eight vocabulary words. Instead of writing the definition, the directions ask them to determine whether the words have a positive or negative connotation.

Examples:  annoy, unique, cheerful, glorious, worthless

The last thing they will do on Day 2 is to read a passage and answer the questions.

Workbooks for tweens and teens

We have loved all of the workbooks in this series. We have bought one each year, starting with K to 1.

However, now that our kids are older, we especially appreciate the workbooks for the older grades.

Oftentimes, we’ve bought workbooks that cover a range of grades, as in a Problem Solving Workbook for 4 – 6 grade. That’s a very broad range of skills.

We love these bridging workbooks for the older grades, 5th to 6th, 6th to 7th, and 7th to 8th. Tweens and teens are often reluctant to do extra work, especially as it gets more challenging.

However, these summer bridge workbooks for older students are engaging, not intimidating, and take the right amount of time to complete. We want to do what we can to prevent summer learning loss and to keep them interested in learning.

Makes parents feel accomplished

As a busy mom, I like to look back on our summer days and weeks and feel like we accomplished something. I want to know I’m doing what I can so my kids have the tools to succeed.

It’s really important for me to know my kids will be prepared. I want to know they learned what they were supposed to and are all caught up. I want to be sure they are ready to learn when their summer break is over.

A bonus also is this gives my kids a sense of accomplishment that doesn’t come from playing electronics and video games.

(In our house, my kids can’t use electronics the next day if they didn’t finish their workbook that day. It’s been a big motivator for them to earn their electronics time the next day.)

Enriching for your child

Think of these workbooks as ways to supplement things your children already do. Perhaps they play with educational toys or STEM- and science-focused toys.

This is another way for them to learn.

They are portable

This is a really easy workbook to take on car rides and road trips.

summer bridge workbooks

My kids know they have to get their workbook pages done each day so if there is a car ride, they will often bring their workbook along to do on the way.

We’ve even brought it on the airplane.

Requires a pencil — back to the basics

As mentioned before, there are writing prompts. But even more than writing out sentences, it’s nice my kids get a chance to write — numbers and words.

While we appreciate online learning, my kids don’t need more time in front of screens. These books reinforce handwriting skills.

I’m a big fan of pencil and paper learning, especially because as kids get older, so much is online.

Certainly online interactive skill-building educational websites have their place, but it’s really great to get back to the basics with handwriting with a pencil and a paper workbook.

Can do it together or independently

Depending on the ages and focus of your child, you can sit with them.

Sometimes I do — even now that my children are older — and sometimes I don’t.

I usually go over the answers with them.

Summer bridge workbooks PK – 8th grade

These workbooks have become part of my kids’ summer routines.

Amazing value

Think of the price of a tutor.

Think of the time it takes to look online for different worksheets to print out to help reinforce or teach skills. Here is everything, all in one place. If there is something you find your child doesn’t understand, these workbooks will give you a chance to then find more resources if you need.

Teaches goal setting

Unless we have other activities, our rule is my kids can’t do electronics the next day if they didn’t complete their two workbook pages. They get bonus time when they complete bonus pages at the end of each section.

Age appropriate

These books are spot on for whatever grade your child is in. You won’t have to worry about these being too repetitive and remedial. They will find challenges in these books.

Summer slide workbooks for older students are especially essential.

We’ve found them to be the right amount of challenge.

Great way to prevent summer slide

There are many positive things about these summer bridge books. They help reinforce and build skills as well as introduce new skills. The daily workbook pages have meaningful activities. It’s not just busywork.

Sometimes my kids will sail through a section (have already mastered those skills) while other times they need to take longer either because of the complexity of the section or because the material is a little more challenging. It’s been a great mix.

These workbooks help my kids continue to develop their analytical skills and their critical thinking abilities.

They are great books to help them review as well as prepare them for the next grade. The idea is to keep your child excited about learning all summer long.

I buy summer slide workbooks to keep my kids’ minds active over the summer, to keep them engaged, and to prevent summer slide.

Summer enrichment workbooks

There are extra learning activities in the bonus sections.

Choose to do these extra activities or don’t — they are there if you want to.

practicing what they learned in school

In our district, kids get 10 weeks of summer break. Much of what students learned over the school year can be lost if kids don’t get the opportunity to reinforce and practice those skills.

Making sure your child knows what he is supposed to know

How do you know if your child learned about capitalizing proper nouns or the first word of the sentence? Do you know if you child can tell time? When is he/she supposed to learn that?

Does your child know how to put quotes in for dialogue? Is your child familiar with map reading or graphing?

Many times I looked at these workbooks and didn’t know my kids hadn’t learned it in school. How would I know? You will discover so much about what your kids may not have fully learned in school, either because they didn’t teach it or because your child didn’t get enough instruction and attention to master the skills.

There are grade standards teachers need to teach. Many school districts are very test-focused. Sometimes there are 25 – 30 kids in a classroom — all at different levels and aptitudes.

It’s difficult for teachers to know if each child understands each concept he or she taught that year.

They may have worked on something for one or two lessons and your child didn’t understand the material. Maybe your child was absent that day or was there but didn’t get the opportunity to apply the lesson and skills.

These workbooks will really help give your child the review they need. They are challenging and colorful and a good-sized font so it’s not overwhelming.

Sometimes there are just 4 – 6 math problems on a page — there is lots of white space.

And if you have an over-eager and interested child who wants to work on the workbook at a faster pace, that’s great! You can always purchase another summer slide workbook. There are many on the market. This will be a very good problem to have!

Something to do instead of electronics

There are some long summer days. It’s easy for kids to play on their iPads, Xbox, and phones. Instead of vegging out in front of the TV, they can use 15 – 20 minutes to stimulate their brains.

So much in-school work now is done on the computer. Our kids have Chromebooks in school. They do a lot of their papers and schoolwork on it.

What’s great about these summer bridge workbooks is the kids get to use a pencil to continue to build their handwriting skills and fine motor skills. Much of this is lost in school nowadays, especially as the kids are in third grade and older grades.

Summer workbook for tweens and teens

These summer slide workbooks go up to 8th grade. I am looking forward to my seventh grader doing this over the summer to help prepare for eight grade.

We really wish they had a workbook to bridge from 8th grade to high school but they don’t at this time.

These summer slide workbooks for the older grades are very valuable. There are many subjects teachers teach, especially as students are in the older grades. This is especially true with science concepts and social studies.

They will learn about history from the workbook’s reading passages — material about science and animals and nature and concepts that all teachers can’t cover in the short time kids are in school.

In addition, your child will continue to master resiliency and grit. They will feel good about themselves for finishing each day’s workbook pages.

So for older kids, these summer workbooks are great. If you want, you can even tear out the answers in the back so you know your kids are really doing the work.

Summer bridging workbooks

If your kids have been in the habit of doing summer enrichment, doing two pages a day is a manageable goal, even for kids who may be reluctant.

And for parents who have a hard time setting expectations and sticking to routines — myself included — this is easy. You can have the kids finish the day in their workbook before doing electronics.

We really like giving them all day to choose when they do their workbooks. They know they have to complete their pages so they can do electronics the next day. This gives them control. We’ve also found they don’t rush to do the pages like they did when they had to do them that day.

Different than BrainQuest workbooks

We have bought BrainQuest workbooks through the years, starting when my children were in preschool. It was a practical way to teach concepts. When both of my kids started kindergarten, they were off the charts with knowledge. I believe this is in part to these books.

Because the school district we were in didn’t believe in homework for the elementary grades, we used the BrainQuest workbooks a few times a week.

We used it to supplement and review and sometimes introduce new concepts and skills.

We liked them a lot. The difference with the BrainQuest workbooks is they are divided by subject. So you will have say 25 pages of math review, then language arts, then writing, etc.

Also, they are very large workbooks. You can easily tear out the pages for your child to do. Or sometimes we ripped out the pages after they finished the pages. But it’s a more cumbersome book to use and take in the car and on trips.

There are stickers and certificates kids will have fun using and earning. There are also tear out flashcards for sight words, colors, animals, etc., depending on the grade you choose.

We’ve never used the Summer BrainQuest books which are meant to bridge the gap between grades, so can’t speak to how they are. We’ve only used the regular grade-level books.

Since we were hooked on Summer Bridge Activities books since the first book we bought, (K to 1st grade) that’s all we’ve used for this purpose.

What is summer slide

Summer slide is summer learning loss. It’s what the kids lose in the summer because they are out of school for summer break. Many school districts are changing their calendars to include year-round schooling, in part to combat summer slide.

There are many things you can do to help your child over the summer. You can play games and do puzzles. You can involve them in tasks such as cooking and baking. They can help work out a grocery list and learn about budgeting.

Kids will have fun building and creating as well as drawing, doing art, science experiments, including STEM learning, and all sorts of activities.

Workbook for summer learning loss

We’ve bought our share of specialty summer workbooks. We have them for reading comprehension, advanced math, problem solving, and more.

We often start the summer strong with these workbooks and then get a little lax as the days and weeks progress. Part of summer is NOT having to do schoolwork, right?

But using the bridge workbooks has given us a clear goal. We know we will cover all the bases instead of skipping around with other workbooks which may focus on one or two subjects.

These Summer Bridge Activities workbooks incorporate science, language arts, math, social studies, geography, and reading comprehension. There’s history and things they simply should just know — like map reading, telling time, using graphs.

Also, you can use them for homeschooling as well or as enrichment throughout the school year.

There’s lots of white space which makes it clutter-free and not intimidating. The directions are clear and easy to understand. Kids will enjoy the variety.

These bridge workbooks can help ensure your child learned what was necessary the past school year. In addition, you will be helping your child keep his brain engaged over the summer to remember what he learned.

It will help ensure he/she is up-to-date with the grade level standards and basically knows what he/she is supposed to know.

These workbooks give kids the opportunity to shine — it lets them demonstrate and use what they learned in school in a relaxed way.

For what is included in these summer workbooks, they are a tremendous value. You will be helping your child to prevent summer learning loss and summer slide.

When you consider what a tutor costs or the hassle of going online and finding and then printing off worksheets, it’s so easy to just get these summer bridge workbooks. Everything is in one book, in one place. They are amazing. We highly recommend them.

 

 

 

KiwiCo Review ~ Tinker Crate and Eureka Crate for Older Kids

KiwiCo pencil sharpener great for older kids teens

Updated:

Are Kiwi Crates worth the money? For our family, yes. Here’s our KiwiCo review.

‘Twas the week before Christmas, and I didn’t have a great gift idea for my 12 and 14 year old sons. I was on the email list for KiwiCo and was getting their holiday specials.

I enjoyed reading their emails from time-to-time. They offered fun and doable science and art activities. My kids and I did some over the years. Others I saved in my endless “to do someday with my kids” list, wherever that is.

Years prior, I saw a friend posting about her kids’ Tinker Crate and another kit on Facebook. I asked her about it, and she was really happy with them. Her kids loved them. Their grandparents bought the subscription for them each year.

Fast forward almost two years later, and I decided to look at what these Kiwi kit crates were all about.

Questions about KiwiCo

My questions and concerns before trying Kiwi crates were:

KiwiCo cost:
  • Will shipping make it cost prohibitive?
  • Are the kits worth the money?
Questions about KiwiCo:
  • Would my kids — who were definitely aging out of toys — want to do this?
  • Will the kits be too easy?
  • Would this be one more thing to pile up in the closet, untouched?
  • STEM kits are popular; what sets Kiwi crates apart?

Basically, I wanted to know: 

Would these crates be another thing I have to nag my kids to do?

Like many parents, I know I’m always looking for ways to engage them and to get them away from electronic devices.

I also know I’ve bought my fair share of crafts, science kits, and other sets and projects thinking we would do them but we never did. Or we finally did them but it was a chore to do — not something to look forward to but something to cross off my mental list.

All of this would just add to my overall guilt about wasting money and the pressure to offer my kids enriching experiences.

Kiwi crates as gifts

But in sort of a feeling desperate state — first world problems of not knowing what to give my kids for a gift — I opened up one of Kiwi Co’s holiday sale emails, and looked at the various kits.

I learned a lot by finally going to their website. I didn’t realize this subscription service was for all ages. Also, I didn’t know they categorized the kits by interest.

For wee ones this would be Discovery and Exploration and Playing and Learning. For ages 5 and up, there is Art, Science, Design, Technology, Art, Geography, Engineering, and Math.

You may have heard of STEM-based learning or STEAM-based learning. This stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, A for Art, and Mathematics. 

After receiving several crates now, we learned that Kiwi crates combine many of these STEM/STEAM disciplines in their kits. 

I really liked they were broken down into such specific age ranges. Even better, I saw there are kits especially for tweens and teens.

Kiwi Crate vs LEGO

When I was on the KiwiCo site, I realized this was the first year we didn’t buy Lego sets for my kids.

I love LEGO bricks and sets and so do my kids; they’ve served us well.

However, to get a challenging kit for them now that they’re older, I need to spend hundreds of dollars. Then the model will have to sit out somewhere — collecting dust — and we just don’t have room for it.

My kids love doing LEGO sets but I just can’t justify the expense for something that will take them several hours (at best) and then it’s done. 

These Kiwi crates are fulfilling the same function as the big LEGO sets for us. They give my (older) kids:

  • Something to build and construct
  • Opportunity to follow directions
  • Learning experiences
  • Something fun to do that isn’t electronics

STEM-based learning

My kids are really into STEM. They are in STEM clubs at school, and my older child takes honors science in middle school.

I was happy thinking I could buy the Kiwi Crates for my kids and they would enjoy putting them together. What was also appealing is that everything would be in the kit. As much as it’s great to browse Pinterest for STEM and other creative ideas, it takes so much time to gather the supplies. 

The appeal of the Kiwi subscription is that everything would be there in one box.

I’ll admit there was a big part of me that worried they wouldn’t enjoy them. I thought they would be curious and have the thrill of unboxing the item but then might lose interest.

Still, I didn’t have a gift idea, so I explored the website further. 

One of my children asked for an electronic pencil sharpener — he’d talked about it for months. I saw a picture on the KiwiCo site with a child putting together a pencil sharpener! I thought that was really cool that they offered even practical kits as well. 

Ordering the Kiwi Crate

I ordered the Tinker Crate for my 12 year old and the Eureka Crate for my 14 year old.

I didn’t want them both to have the same kit. Being my older child is capable and good at following directions — and goodness knows they’ve both been doing LEGO sets for the majority of their lives — I opted for the oldest-age kit which is the Eureka Crate.

They run specials often, and I was happy with the deal and price I was able to get. Sometimes there are special codes, etc.

We received the kits in three days, plenty of time for wrapping and to put under the tree. 

Getting the kits

What I liked about Kiwi Co.:

First off, we ordered are kits to be sent to the same address. Both of them fit in a larger box. This box is decorated really nicely. I also appreciated it was the correct size — the perfect fit, really — so that it didn’t waste.

KiwiCo crate boxes
Eureka Crate and Tinker Crate with shipping box

(As an example, a year prior, I ordered three Think Fun coding games from Target online. They sent these three small game boxes to us in two huge boxes — huge as in 20+ of the games could have fit in one box. It was a huge waste of cardboard and of the plastic packaging.)

So, the eco-friendliness shipping box aside, the kits themselves come in fantastic boxes.

What I love about them is they are made with sturdy cardboard. They are perfect for then storing the kits if you want. (If the project fits.) They stack nicely in the closet.

Most toys that my kids used to play with didn’t come with boxes. This meant it was difficult to store. I am a huge fan of boxes!

Each box had a label which said what the kit was. Imagine my surprise when my son’s kit was an electronic pencil sharpener! My younger son’s kit said it was a Paint Spinner. He had one years earlier which he enjoyed, so both seemed like activities my kids would enjoy building and putting together.

What I didn’t like about Kiwi Co.:

One thing though is that even though they asked for both of our kids’ names for them to label the individual crate, on the shipping box, only one child’s name is on it.

So if you order more than one set to the same address, you will want to not wrap the shipping box and present it as a gift. However, because only one box came, I opened it up and saw both of the sets were in that box.

Also, think about if your kids will care whose name is on the shipping box. Mine don’t care.

Giving Kiwi Crate as a gift

Because they were each in their own nice box, I was able to wrap these up easily and put them under the tree.

When they unwrapped them on Christmas Day, they were interested and curious. Again, it’s difficult to surprise older kids, especially tweens and teens. For gifts, they usually get board games, t-shirts, some books, and yes, video games.

We love finding STEM activities for them.

They both said they wanted to do their kits over winter break. 

I knew they would eventually do them and would want to do them but the fact they came up with the idea on their own, instead of wanting to play a video game or watching Youtube, was surprising.

I purchased a 3-month subscription.

Doing the kits

Both kids enjoyed doing their kits. They took about an hour. The directions were detailed but in an easy-to-follow way, not complicated and cluttered. 

What I like is that it teaches kids patience and to follow directions. They learn to take their time and find the pieces they need — just like they did when building their LEGO sets.

We ordered the 3-month subscription and have renewed for another three months. So far, we have enjoyed the subscription for four months. We’ve received four Tinker Crates and four Eureka Crates. This is what we like about them.

KiwiCo Review

Easy directions

Colorful and includes pictures of the pieces they need. These Design Booklets feature what you need to know plus additional information.

Kiwi crate directions
Spin Art Machine directions
KiwiCo directions easy to follow
Close up of first step – easy to follow

As an example, in the Electronic Pencil Sharpener kit, there is more information about the limit switch and about pencil lead.

KiwiCo Tinker Crate
Colorful directions

Educational

Just like any well-made game or activity, these kits teach a lot. My kids are learning about mechanics, engineering, math, physics, and more. It’s educational to build the project and then fun to use it or play with it.

Kids build and refine fine motor skills as well. 

We don’t homeschool, but I could see how it would be appropriate to use to supplement the school day and many curriculums. There are also extended learning opportunities for further enrichment. (We didn’t pay extra for this; it was included in the crate’s cost.) In addition to the directions for the one project, there are also other projects you can do.

These kits cover several disciplines — engineering, art, math, science, technology as well as geography for some kits.

KiwiCo kit
A second booklet teaches related science concepts. It includes simple examples and projects to expand on the skills.

Children learn to follow directions; to trust the process and learn patience; to sort supplies. Again, all the while they are learning, building, constructing, and having fun.

Good variety of projects

The kits are interesting and haven’t been similar. Sometimes the projects have been more fun to build and sometimes they’ve been more fun to play with. Both are a win!

In the four months we have been receiving these crates, these are the sets they’ve received:

Eureka Crate:
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Ukulele
  • Headphones
  • Lock Box
Tinker Crate:
  • Spin Art
  • Color-Changing LED Crystal
  • Arcade Catapult
  • Hydraulic Claw

You also have the option to go to their website and purchase specific kits. As an example, even if you order the Kiwi Crate, you can buy a kit from the Doodle Crate. 

Kiwi Co. Eureka Crate and Tinker Crate great for older kids

The kits have been detailed enough to hold older children’s interest. They are great kits for tweens and teens when not many “toys” and “craft kits” excite them.

These STEM kits have kept my kids interested and engaged in the process. They sit down and work until they have completed the kit. It’s something that’s “doable” and not something they view as a chore to do.

What’s also great is they have choices for older kids. Again, as children age, there are less options for them.

KiwiCo has these subscriptions for tweens and teens:

  • Atlas Crate is up to 11 year olds with a focus on geography and cultures.
  • Doodle Crate is 9 – 16 year olds with a focus on design and art. More info here.
  • Tinker Crate is recommended for 9 – 16 year olds and focuses on engineering and science.
  • Eureka Crate is for 14+ and focuses on engineering and design.

Kids will enjoy constructing and building something they can play with and use.

KiwiCo pencil sharpener great for older kids teens
Building the pencil sharpener

There’s usually a sale

I like feeling like I “got a good deal” and didn’t pay full price. They offer discounts regularly.

Spend time together

We often play games as a means of connecting in our family. Sitting with my kids when they do their Kiwi Co projects — even if I don’t help them at all — is a nice way to spend time together.

Kids look forward to their kits

We ordered the 3-month subscription for the gift. I told my kids they had to work on and complete the kit before they open the next month’s shipment. And if they didn’t have their kits done before the next month, we wouldn’t renew it for another three months.

So far, they’ve been motivated to do their crates.

Practical and enriching kits

Kids construct projects they can use. We have the pencil sharpener sitting out by our homework area. My son still plays with his spin art kit.

KiwiCo kits
Spin Art uses the box it came in for easy storage.

Different categories and ages

Depending on your child’s age and interest, Kiwi has different options. 

Convenience and zero stress

There are many people who enjoy pursuing Pinterest for ideas. 

When my kids were younger, I enjoyed going to Michaels, JoAnn’s, and Hobby Lobby to find craft and science kits.

But with working and busy lives, I don’t have time to do this. Plus, there isn’t a sense of urgency to do these projects. However, when they arrive in the mail each month, there is a bit of excitement that makes my kids more interested in it.

I am no longer wasting money and filling up closets and drawers with art supplies and ideas for rainy days.

Comes with everything you need

In addition to coming with all the materials you need, appealing directions and Design Booklets, it comes with that great box to store everything in, and it comes with a notebook. 

Some of the projects haven’t fit back into the boxes. However, some are part of the box as in the Spin Art machine which uses the box as part of the design. A double win!

Helps refine fine motor skills

Kids need patience and to take care as they handle wires and small parts. It’s great to build and refine fine motor skills.

KiwiCo crates build fine motor skills
Builds fine motor skills

You can cancel at any time

If you know how to log onto your KiwiCo account, you can cancel the subscription or change kits or pause your subscription. It’s easy.

I also very much appreciated getting an email reminder that our 3-month subscriptions were coming due to auto-renew. More on this below.

Experience with Kiwi Co customer service

My kids opened their kits four days after Christmas. My older son was excited to do the pencil sharpener in his Eureka Crate. In putting it together, one of the wires broke apart.

It was a Saturday, but I emailed them right away over what I assume was a very busy customer service time for them. 

I included our order number, an explanation of the problem, and also included a picture.

In almost exactly 25 hours, on Sunday, a rep wrote back to say they will send out a replacement part right away. They shipped it out Monday, and we received a replacement piece early afternoon on Wednesday. 

We haven’t had any other issues.

Automatically renewing Kiwi Co. subscription

We’ve all had times where we agreed to pay for something one time but then see recurring charges on our credit card statements.

This was a concern I had before purchasing KiwiCo.

Would they continue to charge my account?

Not only did I get a confirmation from KiwiCo that my account was scheduled to renew, when I went online, I had options to easily cancel, to change the kits we wanted, or to put the account on hold.

I let them auto-renew. When I later learned I paid full price, I emailed Kiwi to tell them I saw a code for a discount. They credited my credit card for the difference for both kits. 

I’m a huge believer in rewarding loyalty. So while I wish KiwiCo would have given me a discount up front as one of their loyal, existing customers, I was happy it was easy for them to honor the sale price when I wrote them.

So the only complaint would be they should have an automatic discount for their ongoing, loyal customers instead of focusing only on the getting new customers.

Kiwi Crate keeps innovating

It seems Kiwi Crate overall is always trying to create the best possible experience for the kids. Each kit we’ve received so far has been of the utmost quality. It’s not cheap or skimping in any way. There is the main kit plus options for children – teens to take the concepts to the next level by doing even more activities.  

We’ve never tried one of the kits for younger kids. Kiwi Co’s crates are: 

Panda Crate: 0 – 24 months old 

Koala Crate: 2 – 4 years old

Kiwi Crate: 5 – 8 years old

Atlas Crate: 6 – 11 years old

Doodle Crate: 9 – 16+ years

Tinker Crate: 9 – 16 years — We love this crate! Perfect for tweens!

Eureka Crate: 14 – 104 years young — Excellent crate for teenagers!

Happy with KiwiCo Eureka Crate and Tinker Crate

While my kids love doing these crates, I love they are learning as they put the kits together. I love seeing how proud they are that they made whatever it is and that it works!

Most of all, in this day of electronics, I’m thrilled to have found something that my kids are interested in.

They are actively engaged in building their kits. All the while, they are learning and having fun.

So to answer the question, 

Is KiwiCo worth the money?

We absolutely say Yes! For as long as my older children continue to look forward to their crates and want to build the kits, we will keep subscribing. It’s a unique gift for tweens and teens.

I appreciate I don’t have to research online for these types of STEM kits or look through them online and at hobby and craft stores. My kids have fun doing their crates, and in the end, they have made something they are proud of. 

Please note, this is an honest KiwiCo review. We did not receive anything from KiwiCo and chose to write this Kiwi crate review after buying the kits and enjoying them so much. There are affiliate links in this post.

 

 

 

 

 

Space Rail Roller Coasters are Educational

Updated:

Space Rail Roller Coasters are educational in many ways. Building this coaster teaches physics, engineering, design, and science. All the while, you will strengthen your critical thinking skills.

It will take time and patience to set up. You will want to take the time to read the directions for each step but that is what makes it fun. It’s an educational and challenging set that, depending on the level, takes several hours to complete.

The higher the level, the more difficult the set.

Start with a Level 1 or Level 2 set and let your kids gain mastery over it. It will be doable and enjoyable, and they will learn the basics of setting up Space Rails. These are great sets for parents and children to complete together.  SpaceRails

SpaceRail is educational

Your kids may enjoy building with Lego and other types of creative sets. Space Rail is unique and will further introduce STEM concepts. A nice feature of all SpaceRail sets is after you build it, everyone can have fun running the marbles down the tracks.

Space Rail is a set or game that is educational and challenges your creativity, skill, patience, and persistence.

It’s more than a game in that you don’t take turns playing it. You can consider it more of a model you build and then enjoy playing with. SpaceRail can provide you, your family, and friends hours of learning fun and exhilarating entertainment.

Whether you’re at Level 1 or higher, the SpaceRail game is an exciting activity even prior to playing it. Depending on the level, just assembling a SpaceRail will test your doggedness to construct something as thrilling as the resulting game itself.

SpaceRail can be played individually or with other players, meaning it could be a test for your personal best score or a competitive event with anybody.

The higher the SpaceRail level is, the more difficult it becomes, especially with construction.

Remember that this game is either a deal maker or breaker for you insofar as your rails and tracks are concerned.

Putting these together is no easy task, but the more careful and meticulous you are in doing so, the better the chances of you winning every time.

But it’s not all gaming that SpaceRail has for you.

Building it teaches you some pretty handy stuff, too.

Working your way to each level is one lesson in patience because you can’t just skip levels, unless you want to get frustrated over unstable rails and marble runs that go haywire.

Constructing each level motivates you to do your best with each one, so that’s another lesson learned.

Giant SpaceRail Marble Roller Coaster
Giant SpaceRail Marble Roller Coaster

Features of the SpaceRail

All SpaceRail levels have kits that vary in rail and track lengths and number of parts and pieces, depending on the level to be constructed.

All levels have basic pieces for assembly including tracks, marble balls, and the nuts-and-bolts.

The differences are on the degree of difficulty from said length, pieces, and parts.

All SpaceRail levels require varying cell batteries to power up its high lift elevator.

All SpaceRail games have different ascent, see-saw drops, speed runs, descent, loops, etc. depending on the level you want to construct.

Each of the levels comes with an instruction manual.

Spacerail Level 1

Choosing SpaceRail Level 1 is a great way to introduce this type of set. You will enjoy spending time with your kids assembling the space rails together.

Let the inner geek in you get out and take a look at features which have made the SpaceRail, at any level, worth your money, time, and effort.

Level 1 should be where you start because of its various components that you need to identify and assembled according to given instructions.

Sold as a kit, Level 1 is the introductory SpaceRail model that is priced affordably.

The instruction manual that comes with Level 1 is a guide on how to assemble the roller coaster and, while it provides a clear game outline, assembly of various parts as well as control and release of the marbles which run through it relies on how the player uses his or her strategy to win.

Recommended for children six years old above, older children who are new to SpaceRail can play this, too.

SpaceRail Level 2

This level is even more appealing to all age groups who have become familiarized with SpaceRail Level 1.

Customization of SpaceRail begins at Level 2, in which you can change the design for each time that you play.

One unique thing that Level 2 has is its glow-in-the-dark (GTD) feature.

This level has two separate tracks with the GTD loop the loop and rails.

SpaceRail Level 3

Your Hand-eye coordination should be picking up speed by now.

Customer reviews of Level 3 report the need for ergonomic skills not only to assemble this game but to play it as well.

Level 3 has more steep drops and climbs, 360° degree flip overs, and sharp and high G-turns.

Additionally, Level 3 has more parts to be assembled because its length – all 16,000 mm of it – is longer.

SpaceRail Level 4

Because this level is higher than the first three, there are also more parts to assemble.

Like Levels 1, 2, and 3, this level provides fun, learning, and entertainment.

Read the instruction manual twice, or even thrice, though since more parts translate to more confusion when putting them together (and frustration over wasted time).

SpaceRail Level 5

More intensive labor regarding assembly of additional parts for Level 5 but that is to be expected as you have now reached this stage.

The construction of your SpaceRail Level 5 will be more intricate, undoubtedly, as you strategized how customization will be done for its 32,000 mm rail length.

Oh, and this one is GTD-capable as well.

SpaceRail Level 6

Level 6 is intermediate stage with more accessories than the previous five other levels.

Again, this will entail more assembly time.

The degree of difficulty, however, will really depend on how you will customize your SpaceRail.

More accessories mean more potential for more thrilling stunts, of course, which you should master before moving on to the next three levels.

SpaceRail Level 7

This one escalates, literally, as it has 120 feet of track.

Think roller coaster meets oil rig, that’s how the assembled Level 7 will look like.

Needless to say, this level has more parts than the last six levels but these are neatly categorized, with each piece identifiable with symbols at both of its ends, a real time saver for this huge structure.

SpaceRail Level 8

Congratulate yourself as soon as you find yourself at Level 8 with its 40,000 mm of rail length and an assembled size of 92cm x 44cm x 64cm because you are now official at the advanced stage.

Still, the sheer volume of the parts and pieces of Level 8 should be easy enough to put together not only because of the helpful manual but also because you’re quite adept with these additions.

SpaceRail Level 9

At last, you’re on to Level 9 and while all the features of the first eight levels have now converged in this ultimate SpaceRail game, working on 200 feet of rail length is not a walk in the park.

Still, the sense of achievement has finally come to you with this gigantic roller coaster that you can choose to customize to challenge yourself even more.

How to Play SpaceRail

Playing the SpaceRail Game is easy as pie, regardless of level.

You just drop the marble – or marbles – on top of your assembled level and let it do what it does best: glide and slide through the loops, twists, drops, and turns which you have created.

That’s why the way you construct your particular SpaceRail Game level makes all the difference between playing a good game and playing a great one.

Pros and Cons of the SpaceRail Game

SpaceRail Pros

Based on customer reviews, an overwhelming majority of those who purchased a SpaceRail game, regardless of level, have been satisfied with its performance.

This game has also been considered highly educational for children with its challenge for problem-solving, mainly on putting the parts together to ensure that the marbles perform well.

Assembly of the pieces and parts is what makes the SpaceRail game levels fun, notwithstanding the length of time need for completion.

Customers have reported assembling these parts and pieces was an opportune time for families to bond and for friends to get together.

Parent-customers were also glad that this game didn’t require a keyboard, joystick or console.

SpaceRail Cons

The singular common “con” was not getting the assembly right which is minor, considering that it is not a manufacturer’s defect, only a frustrated customer’s difficulty to follow instructions.

Some customers reported dissatisfaction with the game level they have purchased but this was mainly because what they bought was the incorrect level for their children’s ages, i.e. Level 3 for a 7-year-old.

SpaceRail Level 9 - Spacewarp Level 9
SpaceRail Level 9 – Spacewarp Level 9

What Users Say About SpaceRail

You may purchase it for yourself or receive it as a gift. The Amazon ratings may be varied for the different levels but the common denominator for customer reviews is the uniqueness of the SpaceRail Game, at any level.

Users noted the educational value of the SpaceRail Game presented in a fun and entertaining manner.

Although difficulty in assembly was reported, users also acknowledged that this was normal for levels which advance toward the ultimate goal of reaching Level 9.

Even parents raved about the SpaceRail Game as they ascended to the various levels and enjoyed assembling and playing them as much as their kids did.

Customer reviews found this game exceptional for its value, too.

Should you buy a SpaceRail Game?

If you want an educational game that can teach your child skills like problem-solving, figure classifications, and the like, then a SpaceRail Game is a good buy.

More than anything, this game will encourage a child to be patient and inspire creativity. It will improve building skills, and instill self-esteem upon completion of assembly.

LEGO Launches Women of NASA Lego Sets
Best Engineering Toys for Kids- Best Engineering and STEM Toys
9 Special Needs Toys That Will Challenge and Amuse
Best Science Toys That Will Inspire a Generation
Best Educational Toys for STEM Learning
Do Construction Toys Increase an Interest in STEM?
9 Incredible Things You Can Do With Magnetic Toys
Best Fidget Tools To Keep Your Child (and Maybe Yourself)
9 Developmental Toys That Will Boost Your Child’s Education
Trading Cards for Kids ~ How to Get Started in Trading Cards
How Space Warp Game Helps Develop Skill Sets
SpaceRail Toys Fun and Educational For Everyone
Educational Games To Help With The CogAT Assessment
Best Family Board Games to Play with Your Kids

Best Family Board Games to Play with Your Kids

Updated:

When you play family board games with your kids, you are doing a lot of good. You will never regret this time.

And no matter what their ages, it’s never too late to start playing games as a family.

Starting this habit is fun, educational and will pay off in so many ways.

I grew up playing board games, and it’s still something we do when we get together as adults. Because of this, I started playing games with my daughter when she was three years old.

We began with simple children’s board games, like Hi-Ho Cheerio, Memory Match, and Chutes and Ladders.

Later on, we played different games, such as Don’t Spill the Beans, Hungry Hungry Hippos, Jenga, Junior Monopoly, and Junior Scrabble, and Don’t Break the Ice.

We played card games, like Go Fish, with a regular deck of cards. We played Old Maid and Uno.

As she grew, we played games involving more strategy and skills, including counting money. We played regular Monopoly, Yahtzee, Boggle, and card games, like SET.

Depending on how much time we had, we played quick games or longer games.

No matter how much time we played, it was a way to connect us, more so than sitting in front of the TV together.

best family board games

When she was a teenager, she would still want to play games with her father and me.

Even more incredible, a few times she wanted us — her parents! — to play a game with her boyfriend or her teen friends.

What teens want to spend time with their parents?!

Playing family games together always gave us something to do as she aged into adulthood. They are also educational.

Playing games has always been a big part of our family.

My younger sons and I have shared these same positive experiences from playing board games together.

And we are all better for it.

Family game night

While the idea behind a structured family game night is awesome, when it’s more of an everyday thing and less of an event, you will do it much more often. Certainly, parents don’t have always have extra hours each week to play games with their kids; however, you can use the time you do have and make it happen.

You can play a quick game of Yahtzee or Connect 4. Or you can start a game that takes longer, and leave it out to play when you have more time.

There are amazing games available.

The best family games and board games are ones that you all want to play.

They should be age appropriate but it is okay for your child to grow into some skills.

Even as an adult — with games I played countless times with my daughter — I learned new strategies playing the same games with my sons years later.

Best family board games for kids

We are most definitely a Game Family. I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing games with my family.

These games below are all great family games. All of them are educational in some way.

Once your kids are older and you start playing more involved games, you can continue to enjoy them for years.

They are still lots of fun even as the kids get older.

We’ve owned or own each of these games and have played them all, many times.

There are a few other board games we didn’t like, and I have excluded them from this post.

I will continue to update this post with some other family favorite games.

This list is what I recommend based on when my kids started playing them. As of this writing, my sons are 11 and 12 years. My daughter is 25.

Games for 3 to 5 year olds

Candy Land

This game involves players turning over a card and moving to the next color that matches the card. It’s great for building on color recognition.

If you are ordering Candy Land online and not buying in the store, you will want to be sure you are buying the one with cards.

Try to get as close to the original as you can.

Some of the game’s remakes have lost what it was that made Candy Land so magical and special to play.

Chutes and Ladders

In addition to counting and moving her playing piece, your child may find herself in the lead, only to slide down to last place.

Like with all games, they will start to learn about winning and losing.

It’s a fun game with all sorts of built-in lessons.

Connect 4

While my kids played this at a young age, we still have fun playing it now, even though they are older.

Connect 4 is a great game for when you don’t have a lot of time.

My kids often make up more advanced rules now that they are tweens.

They still have fun letting all the chips fall through the slots when the game is over.

Don’t Break the Ice

My kids loved this game.

They played with it until they were nine and 10 and would probably still play if I hadn’t (unfortunately) donated it when we moved.

I’ve known parents to pass down, donate, or let their kids sell this game at a garage sale much sooner in order to clear out their closets. I always wished they’d hold on to it longer.

If you let it be accessible to your kids — and not keep it in the back of the closet — they will return to it. It’s a really fun game and believe it or not, there is strategy involved.

It’s just a little bit of a pain to set it up — dozens of times — when kids are younger, and they can’t do it themselves…LOL

Your kids will love it.

Don’t Spill the Beans

This game is always fun, and it helps little ones build their fine motor skills.

In my day, the set came with real beans. Now, they are plastic.

It’s a little flimsier and more likely to tip than it was when I was younger.

However, it’s still a fun and simple game.

If you play games on a table instead of on a rug on the floor, you will want to be sure you have a tablecloth or something other than the bare table.

You will have an easier time catching some of those beans that don’t make it into the holder after it tips.

Hi Ho Cherry-O

This game remains a classic for a reason. Kids learn to spin a spinner and follow directions, counting, taking turns, and fine motor skills.

The best thing about this game is there isn’t strategy involved.

So the youngest child won’t automatically have a disadvantage, like in many other games.

Everyone has an equal chance at winning. It’s a quick game.

You can play multiple rounds so all of your children will hopefully get a chance to win.

Hungry Hungry Hippos

This is an action-packed game. My kids always loved playing.

We had one of the original versions with marbles. Like other games with small pieces, you need to be aware of choking hazards, especially for younger siblings. This is game is the most fun for little ones when you can play on a carpeted floor.

If you have more than one child playing, it may be hard for them to reach the game if it’s in the middle of the table.

Lucky Ducks

My kids had a blast with this quacking ducks game, and we went through a lot of batteries. The ducks circle the pond, and you try to find four ducks that match your color before the other person does.

It is a fast game and helps kids identify colors and sharpen their memory.

Like with all of these games, children are learning cognitive skills, such as problem solving and decision making.

Memory Match game

What’s great about the memory game is the different versions available. Depending on their age, you can get start with an alphabet version or a character they are interested in.

There are so many options.

When my kids were small, they had a Thomas and Friends and Toy Story memory games. When they were older, we bought the Mario Memory game. This is how I learned all the Mario characters! My kids had fun trying to help me remember their names.

Basically, whatever your child’s interest, you may be able to find some version of the memory match game. Once, my aunt gave my kids memory match cards with famous paintings that she bought at a museum.

When my son was 10 years old, we bought him an NFL memory match set.

We still play it a lot. To make it more challenging, we play where we have to find matches for an entire division.

It’s fun to watch how my kids modify and add on to rules to make it more interesting for their age.

It’s a great game to build memory skills. I remember this game being one of the first games in which my kids started consistently winning against me.

Who can remember all of those cards?!

Now they beat me in most games, including Monopoly, CATAN, chess, and RISK.

It’s awesome when I’m trying my best, and they continue to win.

Games for 5 to 7 year olds

Jenga

You can have your kids play this younger as well.

We own two sets, and the kids use them to build the tallest tower, among other things.

I’m glad to see they are creative with it in addition to playing the intended way.

I bought this for my boys because my younger son played in school. The teacher had multiple sets, and during free play, the kids would compete to see who could get the highest tower.

So while they sometimes are creative with building, if we had more than two sets, they would do this more often. Sort of like with Lego bricks, the more you have, the more you can do.

The fact that they are being creative in this way, makes me love Jenga even more.

How do you play? Set up the tower with three blocks facing one way and on top that, three blocks facing the other way. Continue until you’ve stacked all 54 blocks.

Players take turns removing a block without making the Jenga tower fall down.

This last time I brought my boys’ Jenga sets out, I was surprised to see folded slips of paper in one of the boxes.

My tween boys had made up some additional rules, like “Pick a brick from the bottom half,” and “Use your left hand,” etc.

I didn’t even know they did it! I love to see how they modify and add on to the games as they are getting older.

Junior Monopoly

Junior Monopoly helps introduce the concepts of counting money. It’s a much less involved version than regular Monopoly.

The rules are appropriate for the age range.

What’s great is you will know when they’ve outgrown this version and when to start them on the regular Monopoly.

Once they’ve aged out, you won’t want to regularly play it again, but it’s awesome for what it is.

Mousetrap

My son played this at school and had been asking for it. It’s the same classic game you may have grown up with.

It’s fun, and when the kids are old enough, they can play on their own.

Whereas many games involve setting up pieces in advance — especially as kids are playing more involved games — the unique twist to this game is players build the board as part of their turn.

They will have fun rolling the die to see where to move their playing piece (mouse) as they travel the game board.

Depending on what they roll, they might have the chance to build a part of the elaborate mousetrap.

That’s what makes the game fun. And chances are, even if your family plays often, kids will likely get to build different sections and pieces to the game.

Kids and adults will enjoy seeing if the mousetrap catches a mouse, which is one of the player’s. It’s sturdy and fun.

There are two steel marbles so watch for choking hazards and so they don’t get lost. You can replace them with regular marbles but it won’t work as well. You really need the weight to enable the trap.

Operation

There are multiple versions but we enjoyed playing the Classic Operation game.

Kids refine fine motor skills as they patiently work to extract body parts without sounding the buzzer.

If you purchase this game, be sure to get something close to the original. It should include real body parts, including the Funny Bone, Wish Bone, Adam’s Apple, Spare Ribs, etc.

Some of the newer versions are much different and not as fun. If you purchase online, buyer beware.

You will want to look for this in a store so you can check out the box and know what you are buying in advance.

Perfection

My kids loved playing Perfection. It’s great to enhance fine motor skills and the ability to make decisions quickly.

I even had my old Lakeside Superfection game in which you would build cubes in the same timed way you do with Perfection.

Sadly, they don’t make Superfection anymore but Perfection is still fun — just a bit easier as your kids get older. Still, they can have fun modifying the rules so that it remains challenging.

Sorry

Sorry uses cards instead of dice to move your pawn. This is a great game to start introducing decision-making.

Which of your markers should you move?

It’s still one of our families’ favorite board games. Somehow, it never gets old.

Tenzi

Get the set with the cards, and it will become a game you can play until your kids are teens and beyond.

Tenzi also makes for a great party game. It’s a great game to play over the holidays with family.

It’s a fun and easy game to play when you have a play date or another family over and the kids are different ages.

The rules are simple, and you can make up your own, especially if you don’t get the cards. You can play however long you want — five minutes or however long you have or want to play.

This is a fast game because you can end when the cards run out or whenever you decide.

Also, a bonus…. This game involves everyone the entire game, so no one has to wait for their turn to play.

Trouble

We had Hasbro’s Trouble Star Wars version but the original is fun as well.

This is one game in which the version really doesn’t matter; it doesn’t alter the game in any way.

It’s perfect to learn counting, and like Sorry, to have to decide which pawn to move. You “roll” the die by pushing down on the plastic dome in the center of the board. The die is inside.

After you press and release it, the die pops up and lands on a number.

Whack a Mole

My kids would have enjoyed playing this when they were younger than six and seven.

However, one of my son’s friends gave this to him for his birthday when he was six. Both boys enjoyed playing for years. It’s a two-player game but sometimes we had Whack a Mole tournaments so three of us could play.

This was also a game my kids enjoyed bringing out when they had a friend over.

Games for ages 7 – 9

Bananagrams

We didn’t love the rules to this game so over time, we made up our own games. Sometimes we divide the letters evenly and do our best to use all our letters. Other times, we take 15 letters at a time to make words.

When my boys were younger, we would often work together instead of compete against each other.

I’m happy my kids want to play because it helps them figure out what words they can make with their letters.

I’ve seen them put together blends and diagraphs they know go together, like tr-, sh-, sch-, ck-, fl-, etc., and try to make words.

It builds on skills they learn in school.

It’s definitely a game in which you will see your kids’ progress. They will make more complicated words and find ways to use all their letters in ways they wouldn’t have years earlier.

Battleship

This is engaging for younger kids and still is fun for my tweens.

It’s a two-player game.

Kids learn to figure out coordinates on their game board and work to find their opponent’s ships first to win.

Boggle

You can play this game at any age and don’t have to make it a contest to see who can get the most words.

This is really a great game to help teach spelling and reinforce skills. As kids get older, they will still be able to play.

This is a go-to game with my adult family members.

Chinese Checkers

We never owned this game until recently when I asked for it for my birthday. I owned it as a child, and played it with my kids at the library and at their cousin’s house. This game involves strategy and goes quickly.

It’s best for an even number of players (you only need two) but works when three of us play.

You maneuver your pieces (like marbles) to get them all to the other side before your opponents do.

You can move one at a time or figure out strategies to leapfrog over your pieces to progress faster.

Find a set that includes an area to store the game pieces.

Clue

I still had my Clue game from when I was a child. Now they have different versions, which is fun too.

To win in Clue, you have to be first to uncover the Suspect, Weapon, and Room. Children will definitely learn skills from trial and error.

They will learn strategies to deduce different ways to get the answer they want.

For example, if they are trying to learn if someone has a suspect, they may learn to ask an opponent a room and a weapon they already have to flush out if the person has the suspect.

LCR – Left Center Right

Don’t make the mistake I did when we first started playing this with my kids.

I thought it would be fun with real coins. It resulted in tears — and my boys weren’t/aren’t criers!

Use the chips it comes with and enjoy this simple game for what it is.

It helps kids learn their left and their right.

Like Hi Ho Cherry-O described above, this game is all about chance.

Everyone has an equal chance to win.

There isn’t skill involved; therefore, younger players will have just as much of a chance as his/her older siblings.

Also a bonus is that it’s a fast game, and it doesn’t take up a lot of room. It’s just three dice and some chips that you can store easily in the small tube.

It’s a perfect game to bring on a trip and was something easy to bring to grandma’s house and have her play with them.

Tweens may still enjoy playing this. However, we don’t play it as we have a lot of other games that involve strategy.

Maybe it’s just my family, but we always call this Left Right Center instead of Left Center Right!

Monopoly

Like all classic games for older children, Monopoly is one you can play repeatedly, even as an adult, and work to refine your strategies.

It really teaches the kids the concept of having an income-generating asset vs just saving money to pay rent when you land on other players’ properties.

Between all the versions of (Hasbro’s) Parker Brothers’ Monopoly and all the Late for the Sky’s -Opolis versions, you will have endless choices for fun. My daughter owned Horse-Opoly. One of my son’s has Puppy-Opoly. In addition, we have many other versions, including Kansas City-opoly and Seattle-opoly.

We also own many versions of Monopoly, including Pokemon Monopoly, Star Wars Monopoly, National Parks Monopoly, Monopoly Gamer (not exactly like the original version), among others.

Parchessi

This remains a classic for a reason. Your entire family will enjoy it.

You can think of it as a more involved version of Sorry.

This is a game older boys and girls will enjoy as well.

Payday

I have my game from the 70’s and my kids love playing Payday.

It’s a classic game that helps kids learn about paying bills and earning money each month.

It’s really quite realistic and engaging at the same time.

My kids still want to play this game even now that they are tweens.

SET game

This remains a family favorite in our house. Talk about keeping the grown ups engaged in a game!

SET is a game in which everyone plays at once; you don’t take turns. You need a flat surface to lay out 12 SET cards.

The goal is to be the find sets before the other player(s). Whoever has the most sets at the end wins.

A set consists of three cards with everything in each of the four categories being the same or different. Players look for color, shape, number of shapes, and pattern inside shape.

In each of these categories, they all have to be the same or all have to be different.

As an example of a SET can be:

  • The shapes on each card are red
  • Each card has a different shape
  • All three cards have the same number of shapes
  • Each card has the same pattern

It’s amazing how a simple game can at times be so difficult.

It really helps develop and cultivate critical thinking skills in your kids (and in yourself!).

While I’m all for playing games with your kids, this is something they can even play on their own, as one person.

Yahtzee

Once kids learn the different combinations of dice, this is a very easy game to play. Yet, there is a lot of strategy to this game that you might miss when you first play.

This is an excellent game for teens as well as younger children.

As your kids get better at understanding the rules and learn the different combinations for the dice, they will learn to figure out the odds of getting the different combinations.

After they roll the dice, they will have to choose what combination to roll for in their next two rolls. After their third and final roll for their turn, they will have to decide where to mark on their sheet.

For example, if after three rolls, your daughter has three fives and two fours, she will need to choose to mark down three fives, or three of a kind, or full house.

Kids will definitely hone their decision-making skills. Throughout the game, they need to add up their dice.

At the end of the game, they add all their points together.

Yahtzee is a great game to teach math concepts, probability, and strategy.

Games for ages 9 – 11

Apples to Apples

My kids started playing this when they were 7 and 8 years old; however, sometimes they didn’t know what some of the words on the cards meant, so I’m putting this in the older age category.

Of course, had we bought Apples to Apples Junior, they would have been fine.

This version is Ages 12+. We were always able to help them by quietly taking them aside to explain the meaning. This was always fun to play in groups or when my kids’ friends came over. Sometimes we play as a family.

We haven’t played it as much recently, but it’s one we do go back to.

It comes with enough different cards so unless you play all the time, you won’t repeat cards.

Backgammon

My kids would have been ready for backgammon when we all learned chess years earlier, but we never had a backgammon board.

It’s fun and a classic. It’s a 2-player game. Kids will make choices on which of their pieces to move to make it to their “home” side before the other player.

I remember my relatives playing together. It just never gets old.

There’s strategy, counting, and it helps kids build critical thinking skills.

CATAN

Start with the red box, which is the original CATAN. Everyone works on their own to build roads, settlements, and cities with sometimes-abundant and sometimes-scarce resources.

The great thing about this game is that when someone rolls, everyone stands to benefit.

It keeps everyone focused on the game and planning what moves they will want to make on their turn.

After you play regular CATAN for months or (like us) years, you can add on another version. It will really take this already-amazing game to a new level.

We have CATAN Seafarers. Before you buy any of the expansion versions, you need to have the original CATAN in the red box.

Extension versions add more to the game so five or six players can play.

Make sure you know what CATAN you are buying.

Expansion is an add-on themed version.

Extension means you are buying the pieces so five or six players can play (instead of four players).

The Game of LIFE

I’d forgotten all about this game from my childhood. My boys played it at their cousin’s house.

We ended up buying it for them the next Christmas because they kept talking about it. Players spin the spinner and travel in a car as their game piece throughout their life until they reach the end of the board to retirement.

Whoever has the most money wins.

It’s a fun game, but my complaints are the game has the same inflated salaries and payouts that it did when I was a kid.

I wish they’d make it a little bit more realistic. Also, I don’t like how you earn money for each additional child you have. (I’m not sure what that’s supposed to be teaching.)

This game teaches concepts though, and some strategy, taking turns, etc., and my kids always enjoy playing.

They really like the pieces.

So while it’s not one of my favorite family board games, my boys like it, so I play.

RISK

I actually had my daughter’s RISK board from the 90’s and played this with my kids when they were 7 and 8 years old, but only because we had it and I thought they were ready.

They were ready; however, we played for short time periods.

Also, I had to very much talk with them about how the game can get heated/stressful when you are losing and how it’s all just for fun.

So, I’ve moved this into the 9 – 11 year old category but my kids and I really enjoyed playing it for years before.

Unless you have hours to play, you will most likely need a place to leave it out so you can come back to it because it’s a long game.

Sometimes, we’ve slid it on a big piece from a cardboard box and put it out of the way until we had time to play again — oftentimes over several days. It is long!

However, it’s fairly simple to learn with not tons of rules like other advanced games.

It’s also ensured my kids know their continents and where each of them are in the world. (Our game board from the 1990’s has North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.)

It’s also fostered subjects such as how countries have been renamed through the ages.

This is a game even teens and adults enjoy.

Stratego

This is two-player game.

If your kids enjoy battles, this is a great game.

It helps teach numbers (lower numbers beat higher numbers), strategy (where will you hide your flag and what strategy will you use to find your opponent’s flag first) and logic.

This is a game your family will enjoy as your kids become tweens and teens.

Suspend

My boys would have enjoyed this when they were younger but received it as a gift when they were 9 and 10.

You learn about balance along with other physics concepts. It’s a fast game.

Board games for tweens and teens

Kids of all ages will learn something from playing games.

In this list of best games for teens and tweens, you will see a lot of games that you can start much younger. However, these are fun games that will interest teenagers.

What makes these board games classics is you and your kids will continue to improve your skills. They are open-ended games that will continue to challenge you and your family. This keeps them interesting and fun to play.

Like all of the games listed, these are all great games for girls and boys.

When your kids are tweens and teens, it’s common to spend less hands-on time with them. Between school, homework, and all their activities, when there is downtime, they are likely to be on their electronic devices.

What tween and teen doesn’t resort to going on the iPad, texting a friend from their phone, or playing a game on Xbox? And frankly, parents are usually grateful for the much-needed break.

However, we all know this is a critical time in our kids’ lives. Playing family board games with teens and tweens will help them in so many ways.

It’s an easy way to spend time with your kids, even if you don’t always get them talking. Just having being together, having fun is important.

Even if they are reluctant at first, find some games that capitalize on their strengths.

Are they into strategy and math? Do they excel in reading or spelling? Just have fun with them.

Don’t criticize their moves or over-explain. Let them figure some things out.

Make it stress-free and fun to be with you.

Start off with a quick game and end on a high note so they will look forward to playing the next time.

Many of these games I have listed above with more descriptions.

Apples to Apples

This is fun when your kids have friends over and you want to get them off electronics. You need at least three people to play.

You can play individually or on teams.

Backgammon

This is a two-player game.

Bananagrams

You or your tween can even play this on your own. As I mentioned above, we modify the rules according to how much time we have and what we’re in the mood for.

You can play for however long you like. No matter your kid’s age, he or she can even use these tiles or Scrabble tiles to spell out their spelling words.

Boggle

It will fun when your kids are really old enough to win against you. In the meantime, depending on their skill level, let them use two letter words.

Or make it so you have to form words that are at least four letters to count. As with all games, remember they are still kids — even though they are older.

No one wants to lose all the time.

CATAN

My sons and I love CATAN. As I mentioned above, what’s great CATAN is no matter who rolls, you can win cards.

This keeps everyone interested at all times.

Even though the original version is fantastic, as your family plays more, the Expansion additions — Seafarers; Cities & Knights; Traders & Barbarians — make it even more interesting.

Catch Phrase

Be sure to pick out a version that’s appropriate for kids. There are some adult versions.

This has been a fun party game for kids and adults. The more people you have, the more fun it is.

You should have a minimum of three to play but can have fun playing with two.

Chess

This is a two-player game. When there are three or four of us, we make a mini chess tournament.

LIFE

Read my review above. It’s a fun game for tweens.

Monopoly

Remember, the different versions of this board game keep it a classic and interesting.

We recently bought Monopoly National Parks Edition. We are all learning things from it.

Monopoly teaches essential skills about not just living to spend money and pay other people. Make sure your kids play this several times when they are teens so they can really see how in order to win, they need to have income-generating properties.

Like in real life, they can’t just spend, spend, spend and expect to win.

Poker

Get some poker chips and a deck of cards, and you are ready to play. I’m stunned my tweens find playing poker so fun.

On a recent vacation meeting up with friends, every time we made the tweens and teens get off electronics, they joyfully returned to playing poker together. You can have a larger set of poker chips or a smaller set.

When we play with the smaller set of about 100 chips, we can easily play for even just 20 minutes until someone runs out of chips.

RISK

You will love playing RISK with your teen or tween because while it’s easy to set up, it takes a long time to play.

This will be a game you can enjoy together for many hours, but you can play in whatever time you have available. This game is best played with at least three people. When you have four or more, someone will most likely be eliminated fairly early on.

You want to make sure that person isn’t the teen you are trying to spend time with! If you don’t have hours to play in one sitting, you will just need a means to set the game board aside and leave the pieces intact.

You won’t want to have to recreate the board once you’ve started. This might mean you move it to the side of the table.

Or, if you don’t have room to leave it out, or have little ones or pets that might ruin the board, you may want to slide it onto a sturdy piece of cardboard and put it under the bed or dresser. (It’s worth the trouble because it’s so fun!)

There are many versions of RISK, including Game of Thrones, Star Wars, The Walking Dead, and more. We’ve always enjoyed the original.

We don’t own any other editions except for RISK Europe, which we love.

RISK Europe

When you think of buying Monopoly in a different version, the game has the same premise, just the characters, cards and board are different.

But you play the same way. With this version of RISK, that’s not the case.

This is a different game than the original. The idea is simple: Take over the world, or in this case, Europe.

However, it definitely has more rules and is more involved. When we bought RISK Europe, my kids were old enough (9 and 11) and interested enough to watch Youtube videos and read the directions themselves, and they taught me to play. Win!

If your tweens or teens love strategy and are learning history in school, this is a great game.

SET

See above for more about SET game. It’s a fast-paced, educational game that adults love too.

Stratego

Kids and adults love this game.

It’s for two players.

We actually play on my parent’s Stratego game. Be sure if you are purchasing this family game online that you read the reviews and know what you are buying.

You will want to be sure you and your kids can distinguish each piece from the other. In this age of battle games online, this is a great way to capture that spirit in a board game.

Players hide their flag and try to capture their opponent’s flag first.

Yahtzee

If you haven’t read above for my description of Yahtzee. Please do so.

You will be amazed at how much your kids’ game-play will evolve playing this game as they get older.

Together, you will be able to talk about probability and the odds of trying for certain dice combinations over others. These games for teens are timeless. It’s likely you and your kids won’t outgrow them.

Play family games with your kids

If you have an extra table or room for one, this is ideal for any game-playing family.

A folding card table is ideal for this. You can start a game and then leave it out.

In some of our houses, this has meant sliding the game board on a big cardboard box cutout and moving it to another part of our house.

Fast games 20 minutes or less

The website, 10minutesofqualityfamilytime.com, discusses the benefits of playing board games, even if you have just 10 minutes.

You can play most of these games for as long as you want, however, they can all take 10 – 20 minutes.

This is great for when you have some time — like right after dinner or before bedtime — but can’t commit to playing for a long time.

Most all games in which there are “rounds,” instead of competing to get to the end of the board, are faster to play because you can end them at any time.

  • Bananagrams: You can even sit with your kids and have them spell out their spelling words instead of playing a game.
  • Boggle
  • Candy Land
  • Cards
  • Catch Phrase
  • Chinese Checkers
  • Chute and Ladders
  • Connect 4
  • Don’t Break the Ice
  • Don’t Spill the Beans
  • Hi Ho Cherry-O
  • Hungry Hungry Hippos
  • Jenga
  • LCR – Left Center Right
  • Lucky Ducks
  • Memory Match
  • Operation
  • Perfection
  • Poker
  • SET game
  • Suspend
  • Tenzi
  • Whack a Mole
  • Yahtzee: if playing with two players

If you are playing with older kids, there are other games you can play that will likely be shorter than 20 minutes as well.

Reasons to play family games

1. Playing family games is a great way to spend time with your kids.

Everyone can put away the electronics and other distractions and enjoy time with each other.

2. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time.

Even if you have 15 minutes, you can start or play a game, especially card games and games with rounds.

These are much shorter because you can agree to stop at any time.

On school nights, this is ideal.

During the weekends or schools breaks, you can play longer games, like Monopoly, Scrabble, or RISK.

3. Playing games teach valuable skills

Some games are more educational than others.

However, with family game, you child will be learning something or build on existing skills.

Your kids will learn so much from playing games.

  • Taking turns
  • Following rules
  • Being a good sport
  • Counting and adding
  • Spelling, forming words and letters
  • Strategy
  • Logic
  • Matching
  • Colors, Shapes
  • Odds and probability
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Math
  • Spelling (Bananagrams, Boggle, Scrabble)
  • Geography (RISK)
  • Generating income
  • Paying bills

4. Your kids will learn strategy.

Even as an adult, I’ve learned some more involved strategy after playing these games so many times.

5. It’s something you can always do together.

No matter how old your children get, you can always enjoy playing games with each other.

6. It doesn’t cost money after you have the game.

So many ways we spend dedicated time with our kids involve spending money.

Playing board games together is a great way to have quality time with our children, at home, without spending money each time.

Different versions of games

Sure, it’s marketing.

These big game makers want us to keep buying their games.

But it’s been fun to see the different Monopoly game versions.

My one son loves them so much, he’s started collecting them.

Even though it’s usually the same game, it’s  been fun to see the different Monopoly game versions and other versions Parker Bros (owned by Hasbro), Late for the Sky, and Hasbro make.

Sometimes they are the same game with a theme.

Other times, as in RISK Europe, there are different rules.

Either way, having different themed games changes up your game play and makes for a great gift.

Game sets

When a friend bought my son a game set that included checkers, chess, backgammon for his birthday, we started playing backgammon.

Some include a deck of cards, Mancala, and/or Chinese Checkers.

Popular board games are fun but be sure to remember the classics.

Family board games gifts

Some of our favorite games have been gifts.

Especially when kids have so much access to technology, an age-appropriate board game can be a welcome change.

As you play more games with your children, you will want to find different games to expand upon their skills and everyone’s enjoyment.

We’ve heard great things about Ticket to Ride.

I have that on my list for my son’s birthday.

Games as gifts

My son was invited to a birthday party.

We are good family friends with the parents.

I texted them to ask for gift suggestions.

The dad responded with, “board games” along with some other suggestions.

The mother wrote back to say to “forget the board games” because they “had too many.”

I’ll admit to being shocked.

We love games and are always looking for fun family games.

My daughter and sons have always enjoyed getting games and board games as gifts.

One of the best gifts ever was when a relative gave my sons CATAN for Christmas.

We’d never heard of it.

We’ve played 30+ times and will play for years to come.

Best board games

The best family games are educational, fun, stress-free, and ones you don’t tire of.

You want to find fun games to play, and you know your kids best.

Choose games that will interest them and play to their strengths.

Consider how many people will be playing and if there will be older or younger siblings playing.

You want to be sure everyone has a good time.

Board games for kids

Playing board games help kids to learn about saving and spending money, costs, having enough money, and running out of money.

They learn logic, strategy and figuring out ways to win. Through all of this, they are learning about taking turns, good sportsmanship, and finishing the game, win or lose.

All the while, you get to spend invaluable time with your children, no matter what their ages.

Bring a deck of cards or some dice, and your kids will always have something to do. It’s a great way to spend time together that doesn’t involve an outing.

And unlike watching a movie together, playing family games together gives you a way to really connect with each other.

I grew up playing board games and card games with my sister and parents. This is still something we sometimes do when we get together.

It’s a great way to spend time with each other without electronic distractions. When you do this often enough, it’s not so much an occasion as it is just something you do.

While the idea and branding behind Hasbro’s Family Game Night is great, it doesn’t have to be a dedicated event. There are great reasons to play games with your kids.

You will never run out of fun family board games. There are popular games and classics. My kids and I have played all of the games I’ve reviewed above.

If there was something we don’t like about the game, I’ve included that information.

We will continue to update this with other games. We just bought Blokus for Christmas and love it. It’s great for 9 years and up.

There are many we play that I didn’t include that I’m remembering now, including Othello, Scattergories, Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble (how could I forget Scrabble?!) and Taboo.

These are especially fun for older kids.

We also play a fair amount of card games, including Monopoly Deal, Quiddler (made by the same company as SET game) and Uno.

With electronics being so prevalent, now more than ever, it’s important to pick up some family board games, and play with your kids.

KiwiCo Review ~ Crates for Older Kids

LEGO Launches Women of NASA Lego Sets
Best Engineering Toys for Kids- Best Engineering and STEM Toys
9 Special Needs Toys That Will Challenge and Amuse
Best Science Toys That Will Inspire a Generation
Best Educational Toys for STEM Learning
Do Construction Toys Increase an Interest in STEM?
9 Incredible Things You Can Do With Magnetic Toys
Best Fidget Tools To Keep Your Child (and Maybe Yourself)
9 Developmental Toys That Will Boost Your Child’s Education
Trading Cards for Kids ~ How to Get Started in Trading Cards
How Space Warp Game Helps Develop Skill Sets
SpaceRail Toys Fun and Educational For Everyone
Educational Games To Help With The CogAT Assessment
Best Family Board Games to Play with Your Kids
Space Rail Roller Coasters are Educational

Montreal Cognitive Assessment Diagnose Cognitive Impairment

Updated:

The Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) was designed by Dr. Ziad Nasreddine in Montreal, Canada in the year 1996. This assessment method was authenticated and legalized to diagnose slight cognitive impairment in people.

Since then, the (MoCA) has been widely regarded. Professionals administer this test around the world. They consider it a very effective method to assess mild cognitive impairment.

The MoCA consists of a 30-point test. It is usually spread around 10 minutes.

If you are a clinician, you can get access to the instructions associated with the MoCA on the internet.

Though the original test is in English, it can be adjusted for people who speak other languages.

STEM Educational Toys to Improve Your Child’s CogAT score

What Happens in a MoCA?

The Montreal Cognitive Assessment diagnoses a number of different areas associated with cognitive impairment.

It assesses the person’s quick memory function which involves the patient learning five nouns in separate intervals and then the patient is asked to recall what he has learned (5 points for this).

It assesses a patient’s Visuospatial abilities and involves clock drawing and a cube which is in 3D.

3 points for drawing a clock correctly and 1 point for drawing the cube.

The MoCA also analyses a patient’s executive function which directly relates to our working memory.

If someone has trouble connecting his experiences from the past to the present and has trouble making decisions, planning, paying attention, managing time and or organizing his life then he is suffering from a loss in executive function which is a part of cognitive impairment.

The MoCA provides (TMT-B) tasks, Trail Making Tasks-B, (worth 1 point), Verbal fluency tasks (1 point) and a Verbal communication intelligence task with two items (2 points).

The patient’s motor skills, working memory, concentration and his attention to instructions given are also evaluated by using different attention tasks.

Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) include:

  • Detecting things using tapping (1 point)
  • Subtracting: For example, being asked to subtract 7 from 40 (3 points)
  • Asking the test taker to place digits either forward or backward (1 point for each)

The Montreal Cognitive Assessment also evaluates a patient’s language fluency.

Various tests like three item confrontation in which you have to name three unfamiliar animals for example a rhinoceros, camel and a bison  (3 points).

Another test engages the test taker in speaking complexly arranged sentences (2 points are given for this).

Lastly, it assesses the patient’s ability to successfully determine the time and date she/he is in.

Montreal Cognitive Assessment
Montreal Cognitive Assessment

Montreal Cognitive Assessment Scores

If you are interested in MoCA results and scoring, there is a scale between 0 and 30.

People who score 26 or higher are generally considered to be functioning normally.

Research done be clinicians using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment have concluded that people who succeeded in the assessment usually scored over 27 in comparison to those who score 22.1 .

Which means they may be suffering from a milder form of cognitive imbalance.

Those who scored 16.2 may be likely to have Alzheimer’s.

Is the MoCA convenient?

The Montreal Cognitive Assessment is a relatively convenient procedure which allows medical professionals to accurately and quickly determine whether or not someone is suffering from a considerable imbalance of cognitive function.

The MoCA determines whether or not a person requires extensive treatment in case of Alzheimer’s disease.

Also, the MoCA determines certain symptoms and allows doctors to keep such a situation from worsening.

Doctors who use the MoCA to assess patients are allowed to evaluate whether a person has dementia as a result of mild cognitive impairment.

And the sole reason they can do this is because the MoCA involves evaluating a person’s executive function (as explained above).

Overview of the Pros and Cons of MoCA

Advantages of the MoCA

Some of the major advantages of the Montreal cognitive assessment include simplicity, easy for the patient, reliable outcome and the screening process involved to determine whether or not a person has Alzheimer’s disease.

Furthermore, the MoCA also measures the various hints of dementia present in a person. The Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) does not measure the components of dementia.

The MoCA also works well to determine symptoms for Parkinson’s disease. Unlike the MMSE test, the MoCA is free to use, involving no payments.

Disadvantages of the MoCA

There is one potential drawback. It’s important for clinicians to administer the Montreal cognitive assessment in memory clinic settings. In this way, they can ensure accurate results.

According to Assistant clinical professor at UCSD and the author of a study on the application of MoCA, in comparison to MMSE, Dr. Stephanie Lessig the MoCA is newer to the scene and originally just looked at patients with milder forms of Alzheimer’s.

The MoCA has since gone on to become useful for assessing additional diseases.

It seems to be a little better at looking in depth at some of the deficits that the MMSE might not pick up.

Heavy language component

For instance, the MMSE has a heavy language component, but that’s not an area that tends to be as much a deficit in the early stages of conditions like Parkinson’s or other forms of dementia, so that’s where the MoCA comes in at being a little more sensitive.

According to a study made by Stephanie Lessig, the MoCA successfully manages to point out subtle insufficiency in cognitive behavior with the patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

This is not the case with the MMSE. However, many prefer to use the MMSE.

Professionals regard MoCA as a very useful tool in recognizing certain abnormalities in cognitive behavior under normal circumstances. However, with patients who have severe dementia or cognitive impairment, studies have proven it doesn’t work as effectively.

The idea of being examined through the Montreal cognitive assessment — or any other assessment for that matter — can be stressful and may discourage slightly older people.

There are risks of test takers to panic and become confused before an assessment. These factors can skew results.

This anxiety may lead to poor performance on the MoCA. Therefore, it is important to take this test confidently in order to get accurate results.

This is no upside to not taking the test.

President Trump takes Montreal Cognitive Assessment

The MoCA is getting particular attention because President Donald Trump took the Montreal Cognitive Assessment.

Check Out our Blog
How Space Warp Game Helps Develop Skill Sets
SpaceRail Toys Fun and Educational For Everyone
Educational Games To Help With The CogAT Assessment
Best Family Board Games to Play with Your Kids
Space Rail Roller Coasters are Educational

LEGO Launches Women of NASA Lego Sets

Women of NASA Lego Sets

Updated:

Women of NASA lego is the new LEGO Ideas Women of NASA set is available!

When you’re shopping for toys, finding educational toys that cater to both genders can be frustrating.

There’s certainly no shortage of science and construction toys.

However, oftentimes toys are marketed toward girls in stereotypical ways.

LEGO is looking to change that.

This fantastic new NASA Lego set was just released November 1st.

This is a 231-piece set which pays tribute to some of the incredible NASA women scientists.

These women made history in math, science, engineering and space travel.

What’s fantastic is that Lego put all of them in one set, so kids can enjoy learning about all of these incredible NASA professionals and don’t have to buy them each separately.

LEGO Ideas Women of NASA

There are four minifigures in this set.

The featured NASA women are:

  • Sally Ride
  • Nancy Grace Roman
  • Mae Jemison
  • Margaret Hamilton

Characters in the Women of NASA Lego Sets

Characters in the Women of NASA Lego Sets
Characters in the Women of NASA Lego Sets

Sally Ride Lego

Sally Ride was the first American woman in space, but this isn’t the only way she was revolutionary.

At just 32 years of age, she was also the youngest American astronaut to travel in space, a record that still stands today.

Her gender made her a controversial pick for NASA’s Challenger task force.

As a result, she dealt with countless absurd questions and comments that no doubt prompted some eye rolls.

These included suggestions that the flight would affect her reproductive organs and that she would cry if things went wrong.

Her response?

She pointed out that the other astronauts weren’t asked these questions.

Clearly, not ever.

According to Sally’s mother, there were a lot of people waiting for her to fail.

However, Sally rose to every challenge.

After working with NASA, she went on to become a physics professor.

Later, she founded her own non-profit organization to promote science, engineering, math and STEM education to young people in the USA.

It’s called the Sally Ride Science organization.

Nancy Grace Roman Lego

LEGO made another great pick with Nancy Grace Roman.

She was NASA’s very first Chief of Astronomy, and the first woman to hold an executive position at NASA.

Her role involved overseeing the planning and development of the Hubble Space Telescope.

For that, people think of her as the ‘Mother of Hubble.’

Various organizations have recognized Nancy’s work.

In 1962, she won a Federal Women’s Award.

Life magazine named her one of the most important young people.

In 1969, NASA awarded her the Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal.

There’s even an asteroid in her honor, so it’s fitting that there’s now a LEGO character, too.

Mae Jemison Lego

Dr. Mae Jemison was the first African American woman in space, and is a hugely inspirational figure.

Her character in the LEGO set has the same famous orange space suit she wore.

In 1992, she boarded the Endeavor Space Shuttle and made history.

She became an icon for young African American girls everywhere.

She’s so much more than an astronaut, though.

She completed a degree in chemical engineering and a doctorate in medicine.

Plus, she racked up countless awards throughout her career.

This includes a seat in the International Space Hall of Fame.

She started out in the Peace Corps.

After her success with NASA, she resigned to pursue her interests in technology and social science.

Then, she founded her own company, the Jemison Group. Jemison has worked tirelessly to inspire young people to take up science and technology, with a particular focus on minorities.

Outside of that, she was an actress, dancer and choreographer. In the 1990’s, she appeared in episodes of Star Trek.

Is there anything she can’t do? This LEGO set will help to continue to inspire a new generation.

Margaret Hamilton Lego

Margaret Hamilton was the lead software designer for Apollo 11.

It was partly due to her work to develop and test the Apollo software that the mission was successful.

If it hadn’t been for her work, the moon landing would have aborted.

Just three minutes before the Lunar Lander reached the moon, the computer overloaded.

It triggered several alarms.

The software she helped to develop was able to recognize the problem and go into recovery mode.

The moon landing was successful.

Hamilton earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

NASA also gave her a special award, including the largest financial award they’d ever given to an individual.

Margaret was a coding pioneer and the first person to coin the term ‘software.’

The most astonishing photo taken of her shows her next to books full of pages of code that she’d written, stacked up as tall as her.

LEGO’s Margaret Hamilton character bears the same long hair and glasses you can see in that photo.

Here’s one of their retired sets that was a big leap in the right direction.

Not in the LEGO set: Katherine Johnson

Surprisingly, Katherine Johnson is not part of this LEGO set.

Katherine Johnson’s incredible mind was integral to some of NASA’s biggest missions.

A genius mathematician, she was able to calculate trajectories and launch windows for space shuttles.

Can you imagine if the Apollo 11 flight to the moon had never taken place?

Without her, it might not have.

Katherine has received a long list of awards and honors for her astonishing work.

However, by far the most prestigious award she received is the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which Barack Obama gave to her in 2015.

In 2016, she was featured in Hidden Figures.

This film told the previously little-known story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians.

The film’s release was a great step in putting NASA’s previously unsung heroines into the spotlight.

LEGO NASA sets

Women of NASA Lego Sets
Women of NASA Lego Sets

This set is a welcome extension to some previous LEGO sets, which included female scientist figures.

Those sets featured female LEGO characters in a STEM career, instead of the usual shopping, hair salon, or pet store scene.

These LEGO female mini-figures included a chemist, an astronomer, an inventor and a paleontologist.

What great role models!

They were wonderful sets.

However, LEGO made them limited edition sets.

Unfortunately, they sold out quickly.

Here comes LEGO again, with an effort to represent female NASA role models.

These Lego sets will feature revolutionary women leaders from NASA.

These will give kids a chance to enjoy engineering toys in a new way.

LEGO has many sets that focus on space, some include female minifigures as well.

This new set will solely feature the  NASA hero.

Women of NASA LEGO set

LEGO creates great developmental toys, helping to boost fine motor skills, imagination and creativity.

Now they will be help children to learn about STEM careers too.

As well as LEGO sets, there are plenty of other great educational toys for your child to play and learn from.

If you’re into space-themed toys, be sure to check out the Space Rail marble roller coasters.

These are great STEM toys that focus on fine motor skills and attention to detail.

What’s great is that as kids advance their skills, you can buy more difficult sets, much like more advanced LEGO sets with thousands of pieces.

We are excited to try this new Women of NASA LEGO Ideas set.

We love that LEGO chose to feature women NASA heroes.

Again, it’s awesome that kids will enjoy playing with all four mini-figures in one set with 231 pieces.

It seems fun and educational.

We want to teach our children — girls and boys — that they can accomplish anything.

9 Special Needs Toys That Will Challenge and Amuse
Best Science Toys That Will Inspire a Generation
9 Incredible Things You Can Do With Magnetic Toys
Best Fidget Tools To Keep Your Child (and Maybe Yourself)
Trading Cards for Kids ~ How to Get Started in Trading Cards

Best Engineering Toys for Kids- Best Engineering and STEM Toys

Best STEM toys for Christmas, engineering toys Osmo Genius Kit

Updated:

Best Engineering Toys for STEM – Today’s world runs on technology, and it’s easy to project that the future world will only be more technology dependent.

In order for those innovations to happen, we need more scientists, researchers, engineers, and developers. However, recent education trends show that fewer kids are choosing to focus on the academic subjects that are most likely to lead to technological innovation.

For this reason, engineering toys and games that are directed toward STEM subjects are essential.

No matter the reason or season — holidays, summer break, weekend fun — this is the perfect time to select STEM toys or engineering toys for your child or grandchild.

Something we look forward to every month is our kids’ Kiwi Crate.  Each month, they receive a STEM-inspired box. The fun is in putting the kits together. They also enjoy playing with their creations. Children will have fun creating and discovering. There are different STEM kits depending on the age.

These gift ideas are all fun, thought-provoking and beneficial to their future.

Best engineering toys for kids

Gaming: Osmo – Genius Kit

Programming: Dash Robot

Coding: Ozobot Evo Starter Pack

Construction: Jimu Robot (BuzzBot / MuttBot Kit)

Circuit building: Snap Circuits was my kids’ go-to summer toy! circuit toy

Engineering: Spacerails 6,500mm Level 1 Game

Getting Started Early with STEM

You don’t have to wait to get kids interested in a STEM-based subject. The earlier these disciplines are introduced, the more likely kids are to develop a sustained interest.

These subjects are even more interesting to kids when the learning feels more like play.

That’s the beauty of these holiday STEM and engineering toys.

Each one provides kids with fun and exciting challenges to discover, allowing them to learn useful skills without realizing that what they are doing is educational.

Just as vitally, many of these toys can be upgraded with modular parts so that they develop with your child’s skill level.

Best engineering toys

Best STEM toys for Christmas

If you want to give a gift that is bound to delight your child or grandchild this Christmas, you can’t go wrong with one of these STEM toys.

Each toy offers a world of challenges to accept and problems to solve.

Kids think they’re just having fun, but they are actually building the skills that will serve them for a lifetime.

Any of these highly rated STEM toys will provide hours of fun and learning.

Another option is KiwiCo crates. Read our KiwiCo review.

Best STEM toys for Christmas, engineering toys Osmo Genius Kit
Best STEM toys for Christmas, Osmo Genius Kit

Game up with Osmo – Genius Kit

The Osmo Genius Kit lets kids turn an iPad into a multi-dimensional learning device.

This STEM gift is particularly useful because it can be scaled for children 5 – 12 years old.

As the years go by, the child can work to solve more challenging puzzles.

What will they do with Osmo?

The Numbers and Words games make math and spelling a fun adventure.

Tangram develops visual thinking.

Newton opens up a world of problem-solving abilities.

Masterpiece fosters creative drawing.

The kit includes a base for the iPad and playing pieces.

Other Osmo games — like Hot Wheels, Monsters, and Pizza — are compatible with this system.

If there is a drawback with this toy, it’s that it is only compatible with Apple devices.

Perhaps one day, the developers at Osmo will come up with games that are compatible with other platforms.

If your child already has access to an iPad, this engineering toy will be a hit.

Program with Dash Robot

Program with Dash Robot
Program with Dash Robot

When kids play with this innovative little robot, the learning and the fun never stop. Dash Robot comes charged and ready to play right out of the box.

Kids will enjoy Dash’s ability to respond to voice commands.

Fun programs like dancing and singing make him an instant hit.

However, Dash is capable of much more.

Various apps like Blockly, Wonder, Path and Go give kids the opportunity to teach Dash new behaviors through programming.

Your kids will begin learning programming and then advance their skills as they become more experienced.

In addition to the various apps, several snap-on accessories are available to add to the fun and creative challenges.

Dash is designed for kids who are six years old and up. Reading isn’t required to enjoy this engineering toy.

While many accessories are available for Dash, we recommend this, the launcher.

This add-on turns Dash “into a projectile firing machine.”

Your kids are guaranteed to have hours of fun.

LEGO fans won’t be able to resist the opportunity to modify their bot with Dash’s building brick connectors.

Learn to code with Ozobot Evo Starter Pack

Learn to code with Ozobot Evo Starter Pack
Learn to code with Ozobot Evo Starter Pack

If you want to introduce kids to coding the fun and easy way, then you will want to get the Ozobot Evo Starter Pack.

This tiny bot packs in tons of effective learning.

Children will enjoy making different routes for Evo, not even realizing they are learning coding skills.

Kids learn elementary coding with paper, markers and a color language.

Evo is the size of a ping pong ball and packed with power.

On the box it says it’s for ages 8+ but younger kids can enjoy it.

After a lesson on handling it safely, kindergartners at my kids’ school spend time playing with Ozobot Evo.

Even the fifth and sixth graders enjoy it. (Older kids will too!)

OzoBlockly, a graphical drag and drop language, allows kids to drag and drop code to teach their bot even more tricks.

The bot also enables kids to use Ozojis, which are emoticons that the bot acts out.

Kids are free to develop their own Ozojis so that they can express themselves like never before.

Remote control mode puts Evo’s personality fully on display.

Once the child has mastered Evo’s basic functions, they are free to participate in a range of activities and functions, which means the learning continues as they advance their skills.

Create a custom-built Jimu Robot (BuzzBot / MuttBot Kit)

Create a custom-built Jimu Robot (BuzzBot / MuttBot Kit)
Create a custom-built Jimu Robot (BuzzBot / MuttBot Kit)

Kids won’t be able to resist the personality and interactions that come with the BuzzBot / MuttBot Kit.

This robotics kit teaches children how to build codes that make their robot friends seem to come to life.

It’s the perfect engineering toy for kids who love to build.

It comes with six servos and 271 pieces.

Building BuzzBot and his trusty friend MuttBot is a cinch with the instructions, but kids also have the option of building their own custom creation.

Then, they can take it apart and start all over again. The possibilities are endless.

This particular kit is designed to entice kids with little or no building and coding experience.

There are additional kits for builders with advanced skills.

You can find additional BuzzBot friends to add to their collection.

Draw energy with Circuit Scribe

Draw energy with Circuit Scribe
Draw energy with Circuit Scribe

Do you have a child interested in electronics?

If so, then one of these fun-filled kits may be for them. The Circuit Scribe Basic Kit includes everything needed to introduce beginning concepts and allow kids to make their own hands-on projects.

In the kit, you’ll find the proprietary Circuit Scribe pen, which is able to operate on any paper or surface that an ordinary ballpoint pen works on.

This pen is filled with a non-toxic, conductive silver ink that turns an ordinary piece of paper into a circuit board.

With various modules and accessories, it’s surprisingly easy for kids to learn about the basic concepts of electronics.

You and your kids will be amazed by what they can create as they learn about resistance, transistors and elements in parallel and series.

Other, more robust, Circuit Scribe kits also are available to expand the knowledge and the fun.

Learn programming with Sphero SPRK+

Learn programming with Sphero SPRK+
Learn programming with Sphero SPRK+

This quirky little bot comes with an app that makes programming concepts surprisingly accessible.

The block-based programming is approachable to even the littlest programmers.

With SPRK+, kids can tell the bot to navigate a maze or play entertaining games.

Because it’s waterproof and shockproof, SPRK+ can go anywhere and do virtually anything without sustaining damage.

The gyroscope, accelerometer and LED lights make every activity interesting.

Kids can connect with other users via the app to create shared projects or find extra inspiration.

Learn engineering with SpaceRail

The absolute best thing about SpaceRail is that there are different levels. Start at Level 1 for a younger child and progress up to SpaceRail Level 9 for your tween and teen.

This is definitely a toy for older children, though younger ones can do it with adult help.

This is a marble roller coaster game that children — sometimes with adult help — put together. They will learn engineering, physics and even patience as they work their way through the instructions.

The reward will come at the end when they can put the marbles on the run — that they built themselves — to test it out. This is an engaging toy and one that doesn’t offer immediate gratification, unlike everything today in our world of “I want it now.”

The child will have to build the toy himself/herself, most likely with some adult guidance.

It’s a great toy to bring the family together.

Even the Level 1 box says it’s for ages 15+ so it’s definitely a challenging toy.

What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

These four disciplines are frequently interrelated.

Education in STEM is the key to producing creative, critical thinkers who have the technical skills and knowledge required to keep making strides in these key industries.

Kids who participate in a STEM program are preparing themselves for a future which may include advances in medicine, infrastructure, building more efficient communities and more.

Why is STEM important?

In earlier decades, the U.S. was a world leader when it came to technological innovation.

Now, the U.S. Department of Education estimates that only 16% of American students profess to be interested in a career in a STEM field.

This means that we have a shortage of graduates with the technical qualifications needed to succeed in these industries.

Students who graduate with STEM-based degrees will find employment in computing, engineering, the physical sciences, life sciences or mathematics, but only if we start them off on the right foot.

Kids need to learn to become critical thinkers.

Choosing the best STEM developmental toys is a great start.

STEM toys help with overall academic success

Even if your child eventually decides not to enter a STEM-based career, they will still feel the benefit of playing with these innovative and thought-provoking toys.

Playing with any of these holiday engineering and STEM toys may spark a wealth of creative talents and foster a love of learning that lasts a lifetime.

That’s the kind of holiday gift that we should all love to give and receive. See the KiwiCo sales for a great STEM gift.

If you want to buy holiday gifts that the whole family will enjoy, these are all great engineering toys as well as programming and coding toys. In addition, these are perfect to supplement summer learning.

These fun, innovative and smart toys are designed to prepare kids for future challenges in ways that are always fun and accessible.

You’ll love what your children create, and their sense of accomplishment will drive them to even bigger accomplishments.

9 Special Needs Toys That Will Challenge and Amuse
Best Science Toys That Will Inspire a Generation
9 Incredible Things You Can Do With Magnetic Toys
Best Fidget Tools To Keep Your Child (and Maybe Yourself)
Trading Cards for Kids ~ How to Get Started in Trading Cards

9 Special Needs Toys That Will Challenge and Amuse

special needs toys

Updated:

Special needs toys – Caring for children with special needs is a challenging but rewarding task. It requires long hours of sacrifice, unconditional love, and plenty of patience.

Of course, you want only the best for your child — and that includes play time.

Educational toys are a great tool to use in nurturing the development of your special needs child.

Toys that provide more than just simple entertainment value are ideal. Not only do they give your child the pleasure of a good time, but they also aid in the development of your child’s brain.

On the hunt for special needs toys that will both challenge and amuse? Look no further.

We’ve put together the best options out there that will both inspire and delight your child.

Recommended Special Needs Toys

Read on for a glimpse of the best special needs toys on the market today.

special needs toys
Having fun with toys

Monster Toss

This Monster Toss game is a great toy for children with Down syndrome. Since this condition often leads to difficulty with motor skills, this makes it easy and enjoyable for special needs children to play.

The best part is that special needs toys like this can be customized and adjusted.

This way, they adapt to whatever level of difficulty is appropriate for your child.

You can move the “monster” holes closer or farther away depending on how advanced your child is.

Puzzles

Puzzles are fun at any age. Children with autism are especially likely to enjoy working with puzzles.

Children on the autistic spectrum tend to enjoy working with patterns and systems.

Being able to assemble a puzzle and organize it into the logical sequence it belongs in can be a very pleasant experience for children on the autistic spectrum.

Choosing puzzles based on a theme that your special needs child is interested in will help to hold their interest.

Puzzles that picture geometric shapes or blocks can also be of special interest to autistic children.

Choose pieces with less pieces — the pieces will be larger — for kids who are working to develop their fine motor skills.

Aquadoodle Classic Mat

The Aquadoodle mats are an excellent choice.

Not only are they fun, but they also provide a mess-free place to get creative. They are one of the best special needs toys because they provide your child a place to create, draw, and “paint.”

They do this without requiring anything more than a pen filled with water and a mat.

The Aquadoodle mat will help your child practice drawing.

It also allows them to use their imagination in a particularly enjoyable way.

This is a very easy toy to take with you.

Ball Pits

Small at-home ball pits are one of the best special needs toys.

They give the child a place to crawl around and feel safe and secure.

These types of activities also provide endless hours of entertainment, thanks to the many colorful balls to play with inside.

Ball pits give children with special needs, especially ones in infancy or toddlers, a sensory place. These pits allow them to crawl around and experience the unique sensation of rolling around in the plastic balls.

They can practice grasping the balls to help boost motor skills. They can also notice the different variations of colors around them.

Lego Bricks

Legos are one of the most developmentally appropriate toys out there.

They are great because kids (and adults!) can follow the directions for a set or they can experience free play as they please.

Children with developed fine motor skills can also benefit from organizing Lego into colors and sizes.

They can build and create while using their imagination.

Larger-sized Lego bricks, called Duplos, can be great for children with special needs.

This is because they are over-sized, and do not have small parts to lose or get hurt with. Building and construction toys are also excellent for building STEM skills.

The Infinite Loop

This toy is a great toy for children with special needs.

This is because it works with the limited movements of children who are affected by muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or any other conditions that relate to motor systems.

The Infinite Loop is also great for children who use a wheelchair. Kids can hold it in their laps.

It helps to improve dexterity of their arms and torso.

Plus, it also aids in concentration as your child works to keep the ball on the track.

Leapfrog Hug & Learn Baby Tad Plush

This Leapfrog toy is an adorable and interactive toy that helps to teach shapes, colors, and more.

It also can play music, including classical music at bedtime.

Though this educational little frog may not be categorized under special needs toys, it is certainly a fun option that many special needs children could enjoy.

Interacting with the toy may bring your child quite a bit of delight.

Fidget Tools

Fidget tools and toys are now mainstream but were intended for individuals with trouble focusing. Fidget toys, including spinners, cubes and puzzles and more, work to stimulate fine motor skills while keeping kids engaged.

Trading Cards

There’s a reason that trading cards have stuck around for so long!

Even with the influx of technology and screens galore, kids are still getting a kick out of good old-fashioned trading cards.

It’s simple, really: playing with trading cards is more than just fun. It also assists in essential areas of development.

These include patience and dedication, organizational abilities, and even social development. On the bright side for you as a parent, trading cards are rather inexpensive.

At just a few dollars for a starter pack and no additional parts or tools needed, trading cards provide a low barrier to entry.

This will help to give you peace of mind as you figure out how much of an interest your child has in this type of toy.

Spacerails and Marble Runs

Similar to a marble run in concept, Spacerails takes it to a new level.

Spacerails is both educational and fun. It is a game that builds creativity, skill, persistence, and more.

Playing with Spacerails consists of building a track that can be utilized to work as a marble roller coaster.

This set will be good for those kids who have good attention to detail.

Most children need help setting this up. After you build it, children with special needs, including autism, may enjoy rolling the marble down the track.

Spacerails can be played on many different levels, from beginner to advanced. This gives your children the opportunity to advance at their own pace.

Plus, they can teach themselves new strategies and problem-solving methods.

Becoming better and better at Spacerails is something that your child can take great pride in. Plus, it’s something that you will enjoy both participating in and watching as you go.

Toys for children with special needs

Does your child with special needs have a favorite toy? Tell us about it below.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the toys we’ve mentioned here and any other special needs toys your family has grown to love.

LEGO Launches Women of NASA Lego Sets
Best Engineering Toys for Kids- Best Engineering and STEM Toys
Best Science Toys That Will Inspire a Generation
9 Incredible Things You Can Do With Magnetic Toys

Best Educational Toys for STEM Learning

Best Science Toys That Will Inspire a Generation

Ozobot fun

Updated:

Best science toys – Remember how fun it was to play with toys as a child?

You may not have realized then it was also helping your brain development in a huge way.

In fact, scientists have found that the more stimulation a child’s brain receives at a young age, the more developed their brain will be in the coming years.

Playing with STEM toys is a fun and educational way for kids to receive this kind of helpful stimulation.

A great gift idea, no matter your child’s age, is a subscription to KiwiCo. Read our KiwiCo review.

Best science toys

We all want the best for our child’s development.

It’s great to know we can give children the gift of education through play.

STEM and science toys make it easy.

Kids are innately curious, and science toys make it fun.

These toys will inspire kids to think critically and to develop a growth mindset.

STEM toys for older kids

Ozobot

This toy combines critical thinking, coding, and drawing together in one.

It develops fine motor skills as well.

It comes with markers for kids to draw paths in blue, red, black, and green.

The little robot, Ozobot, will follow the route, enjoying the twists and turns.

Ozobot will also light up with that color when he is on it… when he rolls over a green line, he turns green.

best science toys Ozobot
Ozobot on the puzzle track or kids can draw their own and learn coding.

The Ozobot Starter Pack includes a two-sided puzzle track which is fun to use.

Kids will have a great time making their own routes as well.

The orb, which is about the size of a ping pong ball, contains sensors.

These sensors are programmed to complete different actions depending on which color is beneath them.

Kids can draw paths for him to follow, and change the color line order for him to do different commands.

My 11 year old had the chance to play with these in science class at school and used his money to buy one that weekend.

He still loves it.

He bought the Starter Pack.

It is enough on its own without buying all the add-on characters, etc., at least to start.

Ozobot fun
Have fun drawing your own track for Ozobot.

This is a great toy because you don’t need a separate device to enjoy playing with it.

It’s also portable but you need a flat surface and to bring paper and markers.

So it’s good for a restaurant but not at the ballpark.

As long as your child will be careful with it, young children will enjoy Ozobot as well.

Little Bits

Oh how we love Little Bits in our house.

These small sets are sort of like Lego in that the more pieces you have, the more fun it is.

We started getting our kids the smaller set with 10 pieces, called the Electronics Base Kit.

They were able to make a lot of contraptions.

best science toys Little Bits
Little Bits pieces combine for endless fun

Over the years, Little Bits has done more marketing to encourage kids to incorporate Little Bits with objects around the house, to make different “machines.”

My kids haven’t ever done this.

They enjoy playing with them on their own, by mixing up the colorful pieces from their different sets.

The pieces are magnetic and easily stick together.

We now own four sets total, and they enjoy mixing the pieces to design different sounds, lights, etc.

We plan to get Little Bits’ latest set, the Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit, for Christmas. It looks like a blast!)

One of the sets we own is the Korg Synth Kit.

It says on the box it’s for ages 14+ but we bought this for our kids when my youngest was 8, and he was able to do it.

Though he had experience with the other Little Bits sets.

We like Little Bits for their portability too.

Kids can play with some of the Little Bits sets on their lap in the car.

They don’t require a separate device in order for them to work.

Most pieces are 1 – 3 inches long.

Little Bits uses a 9V battery.

Boolean Box

Kids love screens and electronics. With this toy, your kids can build their own.

They’ll develop some serious skills while doing it.

Technology is a great addition to the educational toys of today.

And finding a way to incorporate it, rather than making it the central focus of the game, is best.

This kit comes with everything your kiddo needs in order to build their own Raspberry Pi computer.

It also comes loaded with software that will promote your child’s understanding of coding.

It’s so great, it made this list: Time Magazines Eight Toys That Can Make Your Kids Smarter for 2017.

The only thing we didn’t like about this is that it’s marketed toward girls.

We wish the color was more gender-neutral.

Still, boys and girls will both enjoy building their very own Raspberry Pi.

We don’t own this toy (because we bought them Kano, but they’ve used the Boolean Box at a friend’s house).

Kano

A runner up and similar to the Boolean Box, if you like this idea for a toy is Kano.

Our children continue to learn a lot from it and have fun.

Our school offers an online subscription over the summer for kids to learn and keep up with coding skills.

My kids have never been interested in doing it but they will pull out their Kano and code.

I like that it’s more of a tangible coding toy — more of a manipulative — than just logging mindlessly onto a computer and go to a website to learn coding.

best science toys kano
Coding with Kano

They use Kano for coding to make up their own games.

It’s (a more neutral) orange than the pink Boolean.

We bought our kids these for Christmas when our kids were 8 and 10 years old.

That was two years ago, and they still enjoy taking their Kanos out of the box to code.

Jimu Robot Kit

With two hundred parts that snap together, six motors for joints, and everything you need to build Jimu yourself, this robot is a blast.

Jimu is challenging to build, and that’s what makes it great.

This is the perfect opportunity to join your child in creating something and learning together.

Once built, kids can control Jimu from a smart device, learning coding basics as they go.

As they get more skilled in coding, they can do more complex maneuvers.

Kids can also build the robot using their own ideas and construct their own character.

My kids used these in a science camp over the summer.

If you have more than one child, definitely start with getting one to share. Jimu is fun to build together.

If they play with it often and you have more than one electronic device for them to operate it, you can always get the other models so they won’t be the same.

STEM toys for younger kids

Dot and Dash Robots

This is a great toy for starting around 5 – 6 years old.

Dot and Dash come already assembled and ready for learning and play.

This makes them great for little ones who are just starting out with STEM toys.

They provide another opportunity for early education about coding.

Your child can create code that will have Dot and Dash dancing and singing all over your home.

Dash has wheels and comes with the capability for impressive maneuvers.

Dot is a bit more basic.

It can be programmed to play different games with your child.

My kids, who are older than this age-range, played with these at their cousin’s house.

I wouldn’t recommend them for children over 8 years old as they will lose interest in time.

However, older siblings will enjoy playing with them from time to time.

My kids did have fun with them.

Cubelets

These are small cubes. They’re geared toward younger children (ages 4+) but older children will definitely find them fun, especially if they use them in combination with other toys they may have.

There are different sets, some with more cubes than others. We recommend starting with a smaller, less expensive set.

If you children enjoy them, you can buy the larger sets with more cubes.

More cubes makes it that more fun, as kids can do so much more with them.

We love that Cubelets are portable and don’t require any device to make them work.

Kids can play with them in the car or at a restaurant.

Something fantastic for my family is Cubelets are compatible with Lego, definitely extends the “playing life” of these toys.

Kids can use them combined with other toys too… that’s what makes them great.

Kids use their imagination.

Some blocks serve as motors, some as sensors, some as batteries.

As they try out different combinations, your kid will learn all about component placement.

Code-A-Pillar

This one from Fisher-Price is great for the littlest of curious minds.

Although this caterpillar-like toy doesn’t involve coding in the way many other STEM toys do, it does provide the knowledge base for children as young as three to get in the mindset of a programmer.

By changing around the parts of a Code-a-pillar’s thorax and abdomen, your child can change the toy’s path as it scoots around.

There are sound effects and music as well.

There’s an expansion pack sold separately which gives your child more options, but it isn’t necessary.

Your children will grow their skills with engineering toys.

LEGO Women of NASA sets

Soon LEGO will be releasing five sets featuring NASA scientists.

What an innovative way for girls and boys to become acquainted with NASA and STEM careers as they build and play make believe with the minifigures.

We can’t wait for LEGO to release these sets.

What is a STEM toy?

You may have heard about STEM toys.

But what are they, exactly?

STEM is an abbreviation for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

STEM toys aim to encourage children to foster skills within these areas.

You may have heard of a curriculum called STEAM. The “A” includes Art.

best science toys
STEM toys inspire kids

Although STEM toys do incorporate these subjects, they’re about so much more than that.

STEM education concentrates on how these areas of study link to each other, and how they can be used in the real world.

When kids are using problem-solving skills and having fun at the same time, they will not only enjoy themselves, but they’ll develop a lifelong love for learning.

Best science toys can keep them off screens

Although there are a lot of great games for kids on computers, we think it’s best for a child’s health and development to limit their screen time.

In fact, pediatricians are concerned about this  issue.

Studies show extended screen time can lead to myopia, or nearsightedness, in children.

For this reason, it’s best to monitor and limit how much time your child spends sitting at the computer.

Some screen time is fine, in moderation.

These toy suggestions for kids science toys that will get your child out of the computer chair and get their brain stimulated.

Great gift ideas for kids

STEM toys make some of the best gifts for kids to keep them engaged.

When we’re young, all we know is that we want to explore, play, and have fun.

Providing children with the opportunities to grow, develop real world skills, and stimulate their developing brain function is one of the greatest gifts that you can give them.

If you want to see success in their future, kids science toys are the perfect way to make that dream a reality.

These best science toys for kids inspire 21st century learning in a developmentally appropriate way.

No matter what your child’s age, you can find the perfect STEM toy.

9 Special Needs Toys That Will Challenge and Amuse
Best Science Toys That Will Inspire a Generation
Trading Cards for Kids ~ How to Get Started in Trading Cards

Best Educational Toys for STEM Learning

best educational toys

Updated:

Best educational toys – Giving children a strong STEM education at a young age is vital to their future success.

Even if they don’t grow up to become scientists or engineers, kids develop certain skill sets in childhood.

Our goal as parents and educators is to create a love of learning in children. Inspire them to have a growth mindset and for them to learn to be critical thinkers.

best educational toys
Best educational toys for STEM learning

Toys are fun.

If your kids play with the best educational toys, they will learn to think of STEM as a game or puzzle.

These positive experiences will translate to achievement in the classroom later on.

And that positive reinforcement will make your kids more successful adults.

Best educational toys

It all begins in early childhood, and toys are some of the best ways to start that process.

What seems like playtime to us is actually important learning for kids.

Remember playing family board games helps kids build numerous skills.

Learning Resources Science Lab

These activity kits from Learning Resources let your child experience a lab right at home.

They will love having tools of the trade, including test tubes, beakers and goggles.

This can be fun to set up in the kitchen, on a table or outside.

Let your kids mix, create and experiment.

This set recreates the thrill of laboratory experimentation for kids.

They will learn science is fun, and the lab is a great playground.

Skills they’ll learn

This toy teaches actual experimentation, instead of just providing a set of rules for your kids to follow.

While this obviously isn’t the same as giving your children free range over a chemistry lab, it is a great way to introduce these skills to your children from a young age.

In addition, the science lab kit teaches children valuable chemistry and lab safety skills.

This set will even teach your kids science terms.

Finally, this is one of the best educational toys for teaching chemistry.

Goldie Blox and the Builder’s Survival Kit

Combining a story, a toy, and a game, Goldie Blox is one of the most fun all-around toys you can find.

It comes with a story book, in which your kids will help a young woman named Goldie Blox solve various problems.

They’ll choose between difficulties and either build simple or complex inventions.

This is a toy that exercises both the intellect and imagination.

This is a great choice for anybody who has a child who’s been prone to get lost in their daydreams or a good book!

What kids will learn

The most obvious skill your kids will learn here is physics.

While this is a construction toy, your kids will be learning while creating and imagining.

This is also among the best educational toys out there for teaching problem-solving.

When your child plays with Goldie Blox, they use construction and engineering to help her with the trials and tribulations of her fictional life.

See also best science toys and best engineering toys for kids of all ages.

SpaceRail

SpaceRail is a roller coaster toy that features 9 increasingly difficult levels.

You should start by purchasing the Level 1, to introduce your kids to the toy and constructing it.

If your kid likes construction toys, marble runs, or roller coasters, they’ll love this one.

It works by allowing players to build a track and then roll a steel ball down the track — success requires a firm knowledge of STEM skills.

One of the other benefits of SpaceRail is that there’s are increasingly difficult sets.

After you’ve accomplished setting up level one, there are eight more levels for you and your child to learn with.

As children get older, it’s more difficult to find toys that will engage them. SpaceRail is a toy that even older teens will find challenging.

It’s also a great way for parents and children to spend time together.

Skills they’ll learn

This is one of the best educational toys for teaching construction and engineering skills at a young age.

On top of that, the SpaceRail is a physics toy.

Getting an early start on physics can be good news for ensuring success in high school and college.

In both cases, you’ll help your children develop an interest in practical sciences from a young age.

They will learn to follow directions and organize pieces.

They’ll have fun setting it up and then testing it when they’ve finished.

KiwiCo Review for Older Kids

Trading Cards

From baseball cards to Magic: The Gathering, trading cards are some of the best toys for teaching STEM skills to children.

You should choose trading cards based on your child’s interests.

If your son or daughter likes Pokemon, get them Pokemon cards.

Maybe they’re interested in sports, then get them baseball or football cards.

If you get your kids trading cards they’re genuinely interested, you’ll be using the one of the best educational toys out there.

One of the primary advantages of trading cards is that while kids may not think of learning as fun, they’ll be learning through play with these innovative cards.

What kids will learn

Perhaps the most important skills kids can gain from these cards is the ability to learn a set of rules.

Even relatively simple games like Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh have intricate rule sets, and learning those as a child will translate to stronger analytical and rule-following skills later in life.

Beyond that, these games are highly effective at teaching math skills.

Most of the games use statistics in the form of attack and defense points.

This is a great way to make math and statistics fun from a young age!

Learn about the best educational toys

The best educational toys help us parents to help our children succeed.

There are so many incredible resources available.

Choosing STEM-based toys are a great start.

Developmental toys, even magnetic toys and other science sets, all work to increase your child’s awareness of STEM principles.

If you want to test the cognitive abilities of your children, check out our sections on the CogAT test.

If you want to learn more about toys, we have a section on that.

And if you want to stay up to date on preparing your children for a STEM-based world, read our blog.

Hands-on education with manipulatives is critical.

Give your kids a head start.

9 Special Needs Toys That Will Challenge and Amuse
Best Educational Toys for STEM Learning
Best Fidget Tools To Keep Your Child (and Maybe Yourself)