October 2, 2016

5 Educational (but FUN!) Gift Ideas for Under $20 {2016 Gift Guide Series}

This is the time of year when most of you are starting to think really hard about gifts. Perhaps it's for the upcoming holy day or holiday season, or for all those end of the year birthdays that roll around. Maybe you just want to start stashing some goodies for next year! If you are like me, you like gifts that aren't just frivolous, but actually have a benefit to the child's brain. Another plus might be a game where ALL the family can enjoy playing, even the kiddos under age 10. Instead of just reaching for the always a winner choice of books or LEGOS, why don't you give these Top 5 Educational (but FUN!) Gift Ideas for Under $20 a look over, and see if one might be just right for you!
Educational Gift Ideas for Under $20

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Let me begin by saying that all of these items are things that are what my own family uses and loves, I don't just recommend things that haven't been tried and loved yet! :)

Price: Under $20
Ages: 5+

I honestly think I could just tell you to get anything from ThinkFun and call it good. LOL. We have used their products over the last two years and just love everything we have tried. One of their latest items is this Visual Math + Balance Board called Balance Beans. It was recently named a winner in American Specialty Toy Retailing Association's 2016 Best Toys for Kids list. It's geared for ages 5+, making it a major winner for all ages. It's a logic game and math game all in one! You simply pick a challenge card (4 different levels of difficulty), and carefully place the blue, yellow, or orange Beans on the Seesaw to keep it from teetering. Simple right? Yet, the challenge is to figure out HOW the beans go on (using only the ones shown on your card) to make it balance. This has become a new favorite game for my boys in their morning basket--and since it is a single player game, they don't need to fight over whose turn it is. Did I mention it comes in a nice nifty drawstring bag? You can find it at Target, but also on Amazon and neighborhood toy stores.

Price: Under $20
Ages: 8+

Didn't I tell you I loved ThinkFun? This is another great game for single player. It promotes strategic thinking as you "Help Tippy the dog return to his dog house". You will use deductive reasoning to place Tippy's chew bones, tennis balls, and food bowls into the correct order to send Tippy home. This game is an all-in-one gameboard/storage with a spiral bound magnetic game board with heavy duty magnetic pieces, making it a fabulous gift for road trips. The game provides you with a series of clues hinting at the position of each of the 9 pieces on the game board, using process of elimination, your child will determine where each piece will fit according to the clues. Each "game" grows progressively harder as the clues become more vague and require more logic reasoning. This is a game even adults will enjoy putting their mind to. I know I sure like it! I'm almost through all of the levels! Even though the age is for 8+, my 6 year old has been able to work his way through the first 5 levels with minimal help--so it is a good game to have on hand even for the elementary students. This game is available EXCLUSIVELY at Target and target.com.

Price: Under $25
Ages: 8+
I would be remiss, if I didn't include yet another family favorite--the John Deere version of Monopoly. My boys could play this every night and would if I let them! I don't mind playing this game, because it encourages math skills, like basic counting, addition, and money skills. The boys are learning how to count back change, how to determine whether or not they have enough money to purchase items, and to estimate their current asset value. The more we play, the better they get at these skills. I don't care what version of Monopoly you play, this is a game that has definite educational value! Even my 6 year old can count out his rent payments now!

Price: Under $10
Ages: 8+

If you want to speed up your child's basic math skills, add in Yatzee to your evenings. I grew up playing this game, and looking back I realize that my parents were encouraging me to get faster in basic math, while having fun at the same time! Now it's my turn to do the same with my own boys! They love the shaking of the dice, and the excitement of trying to get that elusive Yatzee! Playing games like this, is the the best way to make learning fun, because they won't even realize what they are doing! I STILL love playing this game and it's so easy to include the whole family. Even the littlest can sit in and give the dice a shake!

Price: Under $20
Ages: 7+

Sticking with the idea of dice games, I highly recommend the crazy fun game Tenzi! It's fairly new to the market, but oh is it a keeper! You can get the Tenzi dice by themselves with basic instructions, but I recommend you get the whole set that includes the 77 variations on the game. Your family will go wild with this game and its variations, and your kids will learn basic math skills while they are doing it! Even the youngest child can play and find the matching dice. Guaranteed laughter...Trust me! It's becoming a game night favorite for our family.

I hope this gives you a starting point for collecting games that will bring joy and laughter--while firing up your child's brain! Make sure you check back on Tuesday when I share some of my favorite gift ideas for the art lover in your family!
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